The Falkirk Wheel and the Union Canal.

Start. Falkirk Wheel.

Route. Falkirk Wheel - Roughcastle Tunnel - Union Canal - Falkirk Tunnel - Greenbank Road - Glenfuir Road - Forth and Clyde Canal - Falkirk Wheel.

Notes. What better way to spend a wet day than a wander along a canal tow path, exciting or what, draw up your own conclusions. The Union Canal known as Scotlands only contour canal, or by it's local name “the mathematical river”, follows the 240ft contour 31 miles, opened in 1822 as a mineral canal, transporting mainly coal from the rich coal fields around Falkirk to the countries capital Edinburgh. Our route intended to take in the longest canal tunnel in Scotland, a slice of the Forth and Clyde Canal and a well impressive tourist attraction, the Falkirk Wheel.

Grey skies clashed with the metal grey of the Falkirk Wheel, wet weather did little to detract from this marvel of engineering. The Millennium Link, an ambitious project to restore navigation between the Forth and Clyde and the Union Canals. An impressive start to what turned out to be a bit of a damp squid of a walk. Our route followed the foot-path to the left of the Visitors Centre, we climbed the hill to reach the Roughcastle Tunnel, a brief respite from the weather. On we walked the tow path under foot, now and again misty views over Falkirk and the sound of steel wheels singing on metal rails relieved the boredom, two miles of tedious trudge before we reached the Falkirk Tunnel, at 2070ft long the longest canal tunnel in Scotland, lights and a walkway had been added as part of the Millennium Link, not part of the link the barriers baring our way, there'd be no tunnel to explore today.

Disappointed we re-traced our steps to a finger-post announcing 24 hour access was needed to the Forth and Clyde Canal, we followed the track onto Greenbank Road, passed under the railway bridge before wandering along Glenfuir Road, the Union Inn marked the point where we joined the Forth and Clyde Canal for the short walk back. A break in the weather encouraged us to climb back to the Roughcastle Tunnel, the cloud had lifted, there was some good views to be had to the Ochil Hills. From here we joined a way-marked path that guided us through scrub to a Rough Castle, a fortification on the Antonine Wall, built on the orders of Emperor Antonine Pius in a bid to pinch more of Great Britain for the Roman cause, it failed abandoned after only 20 years, we abandoned it after half a hour returning through Roughcastle Woodland.

view route map.


Our first view of the falkirk Wheel..... 84 million pound project to restore navigation between the Forth and Clyde Canal and Union Canal.


Views taken from above the wheel, looking to the hoops that guide canal boats into the gondolas, there should be some good views from up here but there aint.

Roughcastle Tunnel.

The Union Canal looking east.

Plodding along, not a boat or other person in sight, maybe the locals have more sense than we have, I thought we'd at least see the odd dog walker.

Sue gets excited, there's a narrower bit.

The view west from the narrower bit, it's actually the aquaduct over Greenbank Road, we'll be returning here shortly.

Views over Falkirk, with the mighty River Forth just visible to the right, I guess on a decent day this view will be quite extensive.

End of the road, towpath. This is the entrance to the longest canal tunnel in Scotland, cut deep under Prospect Hill to appease the owners of Caledonian House, who didn't want the canal running through there land.

En route to Greenbank Road we passed these old lock gates.

The Forth and Clyde Canal at Camelon, Falkirk.

View taken towards the Rosebank Distillery.

The Union Inn, our route passed through the park land between the tenement of the Glenfuir Estate and the inn.

The Forth and Clyde Canal. opened in 1790, a route for sea going vessels between the Forth of Firth and Firth of Clyde, some 35miles, a great success until sea going vessels were built too large to navigate it..

A splash of colour on a rather grey day.

En route to Rough Castle looking to the Ochil Hills.

Stunning views over the flatlands of Clackmannanshire.

Exploring Rough Castle, built by Roman soldiers on the orders of Emperor Antonine Pius in the 140s AD.....

I'm not sure what I'm looking at here but presume it is the Antonine Wall ditch which formed the northern defense of the fort.

According to the interpretation board this was a small fort at just over an acre, it looks fairly large to me.

On our way back we were pleased to see a couple of boats using the wheel.

An impressive view of the Falkirk Wheel.

This is the view that welcomed us at the beginning of the day, it says adieu with clearer weather and we make a promise to visit again, perhaps canal trudging isn't as bad as I made it out to be.

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