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Wester Hailes Canal Connections Trail

Photo: Julie Howden

Wester Hailes Canal Connections Trail (May 20, 2022) was a taster of what's to come this edition of Edinburgh Art Festival's commissions programme, inviting artists and audiences to explore and respond to sites and situations beyond the city centre, unfolding westward along the Union Canal, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. 

The trail was devised with a steering group of residents and Tiki Muir, WHALE Arts Community Development Coordinator to reflect local people's passion for the canal in Wester Hailes, as part of the Union Canal Flotilla 200th anniversary celebration. Visitors were invited to explore the canal trail which stretched from Hailes Quarry Park to Bridge 8 Hub and Paddle Cafe, through a Canal Bingo treasure hunt, dried flower badge making, raft building with artists Ruby Pester (Pester and Rossi) and Sarah Kenchington, facepainting, a community information station, barge cupcakes (thanks Susan!) and flag-making with the Panacea canal boat taking a collaborative flag onwards to the Linlithgow celebrations. 

Photos by Julie Howden

Photo: Julie Howden

In the afternoon Bridge 8 Hub also served as a meeting point for the second Setting Sail song-making session, led by Rhubaba choir and artists Pester & Rossi. Participants are working towards creating a song to perform at the launch of the Art Festival, so the canal connections event offered them a chance to spend time by the water considering what it meant to them and sourcing sounds for inspiration. If you would like to come along to the next practice, you can find information about meetings here.

Photo: Julie Howden

200 years to celebrate
in many different ways
Including a Flotilla
On the Twentieth of May

From Fountainbridge to Ratho
With a spectacle of sails
Be sure you’re there to see them
When they’re passing Wester Hailes

Come gather at the Totem Pole
QR Codes in the sky
To find out what is going on
And watch the boats float by

Look out for the Gazebo there
With stalls in operation
And get your questions answered at
Your Information Station

Please also check the Wester Hailes
Canal Connections Trail
Then have a rest and try some food
At Bridge 8 or at WHALE

You start off at Hailes Quarry Park
And head towards the Calders
With lots to see along the way
From recent times and older

Please mark the date and keep it free
You’ll love it if you do
It’s Friday, May the Twentieth
And take some friends with you!

Poem by Eoghan Howard from Wester Hailes Canal Connections Trail Steering Group

"It was great to work collaboratively with local residents and Edinburgh Art Festival to organise and host the WH Canal Connections Trail. I spent the day at the information station and heritage point and really enjoyed chatting to passers-by about the history of the canal in Wester Hailes, as well as sharing the many incredible projects and organisations that Wester Hailes boasts currently. We were joined on the day by Prospect Housing, Wester Hailes Library, Wester Hailes Community Trust, and the Local Place Plan team. Thank you to everyone who came along for a great day in the sunshine (and wind!)"


Tiki Muir – Community Development Project Lead, WHALE Arts

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