‘Everyone should be able to enjoy treasured waterway’

The new wheelyboat made its first voyage last Friday
The new wheelyboat made its first voyage last Friday

Linlithgow Loch has welcomed a new addition to its armada that will help give more people access to the beauty spot.

Forth Area Federation of Anglers (FAFA), which operates fishing facilities at the loch, launched its latest wheelyboat for disabled and mobility impaired anglers following a successful fundraising campaign to upgrade the previous wheelyboat, which has been in service since 1995.

Three members of the band Kent Pickles, Johnny Haddow and Jim Bruce

Three members of the band Kent Pickles, Johnny Haddow and Jim Bruce

The boat is a Coulam 16, powered by a Suzuki engine, and is a substantial improvement on the original Mk 1 model the loch had while also being dual purpose so anyone can use it.

The need for accessible fishing boats has increased in recent years due to the popularity of the leisure activity and inaccessible nature of lochs, reservoirs, ponds and rivers to people who rely on wheelchairs or have mobility problems.

Wheelyboats overcome all difficulties on waterways, making them accessible and make boarding easy which gives disabled users dignity in their own independence and the chance to enjoy the same opportunities open to able-bodied users.

Socially, fishing has many charms and where suitable facilities are provided, such as at Linlithgow Loch, it is an activity that most disabled people can participate in very effectively.

It was designed by the Wheelyboat Trust, which supported FAFA’s campaign, and JM Coulam Boatbuilders.

Wheelyboat Trust director Andy Beadsley said: “Congratulations to FAFA for the culmination of their fundraising campaign and launch of their new Wheelyboat.

“Like the Mk I it replaces, I am sure it will provide disabled anglers with many years of excellent service and many enjoyable days out trout fishing on the loch.”

FAFA is a group of volunteers who have been running the fishing on the loch since 1962.

The national attraction is a trout fishery dominated by Linlithgow Palace on its shore with close links to the M9 which make it a popular destination for visitors and anglers, especially with summer on the horizon. The loch’s fishing lodge is also fully accessible.

The wheelyboat project cost £11,166 and was funded by Avondale Environmental Ltd, LandTrust, Scottish Landfill Communities Fund, West Lothian Council and the Souter Charitable Trust.

FAFA’s George Mackintosh said: “Our old Mk 1 model was showing signs of wear and tear so we definitely needed a new one and we are very pleased our campaign has delivered.

“Linlithgow Loch, like all waterways in this area, are to be treasured and should be open to everyone to enjoy so having mobility problems or being disabled shouldn’t get in the way of that, and that’s what this boat will do. It’s a real beauty.”

For more information on FAFA and the Wheelyboat Turst visit www.fafa-linlithgowloch.org.uk and www.wheelyboats.org.