I had another trip through the Central Belt planned, a stay in Falkirk for a few days.
The run through was dependent on the weather which looked a bit hit and miss but after having a run down to Elderslie, up high over into Paisley but avoiding Gleniffer Braes although I’d a look and thought ‘No’, I travelled down into the centre of Paisley, past St Mirren Park, through Ferguslie and my regular escape route along Candren Road to Linwood and a food break. The home run was via NCN 75.
Falkirk I intended the next day BUT after checking the latest forecast which said rain AM, I decided to just head through.
I got ready to leave, checking the bike over before heading down the hill and my route through Langbank, Bishopton out to the Erskine Bridge. Up over and down Lusset Glen and I joined the Forth & Clyde Canal and headed east. A busy track before I dropped down to join the opposite track and the canal path towards Falkirk, I’d a slight breeze occasionally at my back but with the added weight I still made a good time and arrived at the entrance to Falkirk Wheel Basin. I carried on up at the start of the Union Canal, I resisted the Dark Tunnel this time so up to a short rise and I’d reached my destination.
A 75-mile day and I felt fresh.
The following day? it rained heavily most of the day, handy for watching the Le Tour and baseball, I looked at the tablet OS maps and thought tomorrow, aye, that’ll do me.
Union Canal to Edinburgh
The intended route loaded into the Polar, if, I headed off track.
Scran, water loaded and on my way, I was soon skirting up over Glen Village and the drop down to the canal towpath, the canal builders denied to use their original route so they tunnelled 620-metre through solid rock (see the earlier post), I joined not long after the east entrance to the tunnel. I rode along a leafy path but not too far from a built up area. I soon passed the high walls of HM Polmont and before long, I was into open countryside. I wondered as I rode east how many bridges I would pass under as it seemed one after another, over 60 apparently so with the return a reverse, well over 120, a few, eh? I soon found out, that you had to warn those coming in the opposite direction of your approach as there is not much room under the bridge (see image).
I slowly cycled over the odd overflow uneven cobbled sections, innovative in their day, I can’t remember seeing anything like this on the Forth & Clyde.
Next was the impressive Avon Aqueduct crossing high over the River Avon with its rough cobbled towpath so I took the decision to walk the 250 metres across, just in case.. The aqueduct stands over 90 feet above the river, a fine piece of architecture, more HERE.
Next landmark was the ‘stables’ at Woodcockdale, now sectioned off with wire barriers and not long after I was passing through Linlithgow Basin which was a hive of activity with boats heading mostly west. I stopped as I spotted an OS NBM Bolt, took a photo, position logging.
St Michael’s Church with its ‘metal’ sculptured tower was prominent along the skyline, interesting as it is timber coated with aluminium, erected in the 1960s., more info HERE. Not long before more open countryside and still a fair bit to Edinburgh.
I was making a good time even with all these bridges, old and numbered, I met the occasional cyclist, all coming towards me, I assume a regular out for Edinburgh folk. I glimpsed my first view of the new Forth Road Bridge just before Philpstoun, all three occasionally came into view at varying points as I headed East.
Near Winchburgh, I could see Niddry Castle, info HERE. with its backdrop of a now ubiquitous shale bing. A cooling breeze was welcome as the middle of the day neared. The canal at this points snakes through Broxburn, Ratho before entering the urban sprawl of Edinburgh’s suburbs, the track was clean and free from the usual debris you meet in some built areas, one overfilled litter bin but at this point the track was quiet as I headed towards the eastern terminus of the canal at Fountainbridge, the canal originally carried on towards Port Hopetown. The canal has a variable history, read the timeline HERE with a more potted history HERE
The last couple of miles were busy with people out enjoying what I assumed was a lunch break, a wide track at this point. The basins were busy with boats either starting their journey west or on a few, sun worshippers. I’d travelled 31 miles along the canal back, the canal is 32 miles in length and I had enjoyed the run east.
I sat and enjoyed a scran break, plenty of options for food though in the area. I decided and not let the old bones stiffen I’d head back.
The return journey I interspersed with breaks every so often to enjoy the solitude, I spoke with a couple of anglers but nothing was happening for them. I headed up the approach over to Falkirk but took a diversion to explore more of the area.
60 odd miles which were most enjoyable, I’ll do it again.
The next afternoon saw me being lazy and watching Le Tour, it had to have inspired me as I decided a run late afternoon, I headed south passing through Slamannan, Limeriggs, Avonbridge and a visit to California, no sun, no sand just a rural village. I decided to head back via Shieldhill and a welcome descent toward Glen Village where I traced my steps over into Falkirk.
I treated myself to a takeout meal, I’d deserved it.
Over 20 mile of an up and down, a circular route but an excellent leg stretch.
The next day was run back home…
A 200-mile plus week.
I could get used to this.