Edinburgh to Falkirk to Along The Union Canal

Edinburgh to Falkirk along the Union Canal

Click to enlarge

A 29 mile cycle route which takes you from Edinburgh along The Union Canal all the way
to Falkirk. Along the way you pass under numerous bridges and over several Aqueducts, one of which is the second longest in Britain. The cycle route is flat and along a typical canal towpath, so we recommend either hybrid or mtb, not your ‘prized road bike’. On many of Britain’s canals you may require a British Waterways permit to cycle along the canal towpath. Yu can download your ‘FREE’ permit from our homepage by clicking on the link to waterscape.com. You can if you wish hire a cycle in Edinburgh from Leith Cycles, 276, Leith Road, Edinburgh. On this ride there is a long tunnel on the canal so you will need your’ lights’. But don’t worry you can take the alternative route over the tunnel if you wish. There is a direct train service which runs from Falkirk to Edinburgh should you wish to catch the train back but remember to check the service before setting off.

The Union Canal runs from Edinburgh to Falkirkand has many aqueducts, including the Slateford Aqueduct that takes the canal over the Water of Leith in Edinburgh, the Almond Aqueduct near Ratho and the 810-foot-long Avon Aqueduct near Linlithgow, the second longest in the United Kingdom. Many of the stone bridges along the canal have keystones on which is engraved the number of the bridge. However, the keystones of Viewforth bridge, the second bridge from the start of the canal at Edinburgh Quay, is emblazoned with the coats of arms of Glasgow and Edinburgh, facing west and east respectively. It was originally known as the Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal, to celebrate the uniting of the two cities by the new canal network, but this name is rarely used today. The canal was designed by Hugh Baird, who oversaw the engineering work while it was being built between 1818 and 1822.

Starting from Gilmore Park which is situated just off Fountainbridge Road, just off the A700 behind the castle. At Gilmore Park join the Union Canal at The Leamington Lift Bridge and cycle to your right along the canal towpath with the canal on your right hand side as you cycle along the towpath. After about three quarters of a mile you pass over Slateford Aqueduct, the first of the aqueducts you will cycle over along this route.

As you continue along the canal towpath you cycle past the suburbs of Craiglochhart, Kingsknowe and West Hailes and then over the Edinburgh By-pass by now you find yourself cycling along the canal through the Scottish countryside. After about a mile and a half from the by-pass you reach the village of Ratho where you will find a canal centre and The Bridge Inn pub should you wish to stop for some refreshments. Just after Ratho you will pass The Edinburgh Climbing Centre on your right.
As you continue along the canal you pass over Almond Aqueduct which is 420 feet long and 76 feet high crossing The River Almond below. About 3 miles from Ratho the canal takes you through Broxburn and shortly after Winchburgh. From Winchburgh the canal twists and turns through the remote countryside and about 4 miles after Winchburgh you reach Linithgow. The main attraction of Linithgow is Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of James V and Mary, Queen of Scots, and probably Scotland’s finest surviving late medieval secular building. The towpath now takes you through the suburbs of Linithgow and about a mile after you leave the town you come to The Avon Aqueduct which is the longest aqueduct in Scotland at 810 feet long and 86 feet high.

Continue along the canal and about two and a half miles past the Avon Aqueduct you come to Polmont. Continue past Polmont and after about two and a half miles you come to Glen Village where you also come to along tunnel on the canal. This is where you will need your lights. You can if you wish go above ground by leaving the canal by the tunnel , just after the high arched bridge and follow the path to the top and then GO RIGHT AND THEN LEFT uphill along the B8028. After 500 yards TURN LEFT on to Slamannan Road and then after a few hundred yards follow the signs which take you back down to the canal towpath.

At the end of the tunnel you come out near the centre of Falkirk and you can make you way to the town centre via one of the small roads that meet with canal on your right. We Turned up South Bantaskine Drive which is about 300 yards after the tunnel and at the end of the road bear left along Major’s Loan which takes you up towards the town centre. The end of the cycle ride.

Falkirk is the principal retail centre of the area. Attractions in and around Falkirk include the Falkirk Wheel, and remnants of the Antonine wall and Callendar House.

Comments are closed.