Scottish Canal Art Experience Sept 2021

Gongoozler – Drawing & painting holiday at the Union Canal, Linlithgow

Dates: 23-29 September 2021
Location: Linlithgow, by Edinburgh
Activity: Drawing & Painting (acrylics and mixed media); includes a herbalist workshop and botanical painting session
Tutor: Lesley Banks
Cost: from £1690 per person
Suitable for any skills level

About this art holiday

According to Wikipedia, a gongoozler is “a person who enjoys watching activity on the canals of the United Kingdom” and “the creation of canal related artwork is a common pastime amongst gongoozlers”. We invite you to become a gongoozler on one of the most beautiful waterways right in the heart of Scotland, the Union Canal. Your tutor will be no other than Scottish artist Lesley Banks, who as artist-in-residence at Scottish Canals spent a year walking and painting along the entire 137 miles of the canal network.

The Basin in Autumn by Lesley Banks
The Basin in Autumn by Lesley Banks

With Lesley’s guidance we will explore the canal and its surroundings on and off the boat with our paints and pencils. Our partners Linlithgow Union Canal Society (LUCS) will take us to the plein air painting locations by boat and the journeys will be used for quick sketching. Back at the canal centre we have our indoor studio space for some more in-depth work. Each workshop day will have a specific artistic theme.

As a special treat, herbalist Anna Canning will take us on a herbal walk along the canal banks and teach us how to use what grows there to make our own natural balms and lotions. The base location is the beautiful historic town of Linlithgow, where Mary Queen of Scots was born at Linlithgow Palace in 1542.

Canal painting workshop with Lesley Banks
Canal painting workshop with Lesley Banks

Your tutor: Lesley Banks

Lesley had always been fascinated by canals. As Scottish Canal’s first ever artist-in-residence she then turned her year of walking and painting of the network of waterways into the Gongoozler project which resulted in a series of paintings and an exhibition with the same title.

Read more about Lesley and see examples of her work on her profile page.

With its unhurried pace of life, forever set by the past, the canal offers an opportunity for slow looking.
{Lesley Banks}

The location: Linlithgow & the Union Canal

Our base location, the ancient burgh of Linlithgow boasts strong connections to the Stuart Kings of Scotland and Linlithgow Palace was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. Over recent years the town has been featured in lots of movies and TV series including the Outlander series.

The Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal was opened in 1822 and ran for 31½ miles from Edinburgh to Falkirk. It was joined by a series of eleven locks to the Forth and Clyde Canal. The canal was divided into four stages and had milestones every half mile, some of which still remain. Today, the Canal Basin is home to the Linlithgow Union Canal Society (LUCS). Here you can experience a bye-gone age of transport where LUCS operates boat trips, Scotland’s only Canal Museum, a tea room and the Mel Gray Centre, which will serve as our indoor studio space.

LUCS is 100% volunteer run and its friendly  volunteers handle everything from driving and maintaining the boats to engaging in canal clean-ups and conservation.Painting group at Union Canal Basin


Here is an outline itinerary to give you an idea what the week will look like. Nearer the time, once we know what local events and exhibitions will be on, we will build in further interesting things, like a private reception at a local gallery or a folk music session.

Day 1 – Arrival in Linlithgow (by Edinburgh)
Arrival at hotel in Linlithgow.
Welcome reception, introduction to the art holiday
Welcome dinner

Day 2 – Workshop day
Introduction to the Union Canal and its history
Introduction to the art workshop
Boat trip westwards to Avon Aqueduct and a nearby marina
Plein air art session (with lunch break)
Free time in town before returning to the hotel

Day 3 – Workshop day
Introduction to the workshop day
Boat trip eastwards
Plein air art session (with lunch break)
Free time in town before returning to the hotel (possibly gallery visit)

Day 4 – Workshop day
Herbal walk along the canal with Anna Canning from Floramedica
Herbalist session at the studio
Lunch at a local cafe
Drawing and painting plants collected during the herbal walk
Free time in town

Day 5 – Free day
There is so much to do and see in the area that we’ve built in a free day to allow you to explore. You may want to visit Edinburgh, Stirling or Glasgow – we’ll have lots of suggestions for you.

Day 6 – Workshop day
Drawing and painting at Linlithgow Palace and/ or Linlithgow Loch
Lunch at a local cafe
Afternoon art session in the studio
Review of guests’ work
Farewell dinner

Day 7 – Departure
After breakfast we way goodbye – and no doubt you’ll want to come back 😉

The workshop runs from 10am to 4pm and we will build in lunch stops at a local cafe or have a picnic (weather allowing).

Your accommodation: the charming Champany Inn

Our accommodation Champany Inn is a small family-run hotel with an award winning restaurant.

The cosy bedrooms at Champany are based on the French concept of a restaurant-with-rooms. Decorated in deep homely colours and hung with hunting tartan curtains they offer space to relax and unwind. Ample space, a super comfortable bed, and a large bay window overlooking the garden that offers the perfect seat for a drink to relax before dinner. The spacious bathrooms offer a large bath and separate rain shower. The cooked-to-order Scottish breakfast offers bacon smoked in the Champany smokehouse, fresh farm eggs, homemade Boerewors Lorne sausage, Brechin black pudding and plenty of toast and locally made jams and marmalades. For those looking for a lighter option cereals, Scottish yoghurts and fresh fruits are also available.

The Canal tells you stories
The Canal sings you songs
They hang in the space
Between memory and water.
{From Canal Life by Ian McMillan}

This art holiday includes:

–  3.5 days of drawing and painting workshops with Lesley Banks – plein air and in the studio
– Half day herbalist workshop with herbal walk and session on making your own natural skincare
– 6 nights hotel accommodation at Champany Inn
– 6 full Scottish breakfasts
– Welcome reception with Prosecco
– 3-course welcome dinner with wine and tea/coffee on arrival night
– 3-course farewell dinner with wine on the last night
– Boat hire for trips during workshops
– Workshop studio hire
– Workshop materials
– Sturdy Wild at Art canvas bag for carrying materials
– Minibus transport between the hotel and workshop location/ town centre
– Entry fee to Linlithgow Palace
– And a member of the Wild at Art team will be with the group every day to ensure guests are well looked after.

The cost of this trip is £1690 per person on the basis of two guests sharing a room. The additional cost for single occupancy is £280. A non-refundable deposit of £400 is required at the time of booking, the rest is due 8 weeks before the start date. Bookings where the deposit is received by 30 November 2020 qualify for a £100 Early Bird Discount (quote CANAL2021 in the booking form).

Flights and travel to/from Linlithgow are not included, as are meals other than those listed above. Personal travel insurance is required.

Book your place now! 

This art holiday starts and finishes in Linlithgow (15 mins from Edinburgh Airport). Airport transfers can be arranged at an additional cost (approx. £50-60 return from Edinburgh Airport, contact us for quote from Glasgow). If you’d like to arrive a bit earlier or stay some extra nights after the Wild at Art vacation we can assist you with arranging accommodation.