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 Walking the Forth and Clyde and Union Canal. 

March 1st 2017

It looks like we are in for a spell of good weather. We have contemplated, discussed the pro's and con's of walking the Scottish canals since our last visit to Scotland in 2006  and now we are making the time to do it. There is a Euro 10 flight to Glasgow from Dublin on offer so the signs are appearing. 

We downloaded the six stages of  the walk and booked accommodation as close to the canal as possible. Prices are favourable at this time of the year, Euro40 was the maximum we paid for a double ensuite room. A friend gave us a lift to the Airport, it was a 35min. flight to Glasgow. Shor' we were there before we knew it.

The Erskine Bridge was visable from the plane as we came in to land, that was our destination for the night. We walked the 7km from the Airport just to get us into the walking mode for the next day. It took us along the roadside, then down a woodland pathway at the back of a housing estate and out to the River Clyde. It is as a beautiful evening sunny with a cool river breeze, families were out walking along the riverbank. The Hotel room was small but warm and the bed was comfortable, perfect home for the night. 

Next morning we set off for Bowling Basin where the Canal begins at the mouth of the River Clyde. It was a beautiful sunny morning as we set off along the river across the Erskine Bridge, over the railway track and down onto the Canal. For us to begin the walk at Bowling Basin it was necessary to walk a couple of km's and back again to this point. At Bowling there was a DUG Cafe, dog friendly and people friendly. We had hot chocolate and a chat, then were off.IMG 20170302 102536

Our destination was Glasgow on the first night. We met a lot of cyclists, people out walking enjoying the good weather, and two back packers, who said that we were the only other back packers that they had met. 

The size of the police stations seem small or is it the Tardis  BUT who are the cyclists perhaps Fionn Mac Cumhaill. 

As it was our first visit to Glasgow we took a good look around. It is a small managable City with lots of tourists. Our home for the night was a really old Hotel very cheap Alexander Thompson Hotel near the railway station and included an amazing breakfast. It is about 5km back to the Canal. Most days our accommodation was about 5/6km from the end of each stage. Each day's walk was different. We walked around a nature reserve on our way to Kilsyth where  we spent the night. The wet gear was taken out as watched the rain beat down from our bedroom. A jogger passed as we came out the door and seemed to have a knowing look about the weather,  ten minutes later the rain passed and the sun shone We brought binoculars with us to enhance the adventure. The Goosander made a great impression on us as this was our first time to see them, and we saw lots, male and female as it's approaching nesting time. 

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A cyclist who had passed us previously stopped to spend a while chatting. We talked about birds of prey that we had just watched overhead. Then he headed off 20km for a cappuccino with a friend. 

The Falkirk Wheel made a big impression on us. It has taken the place of eight locks and joins the Forth and Clyde and the Union Canal. The information center was not so impressive with no information leaflets about the Wheel. From here we walked on to see the Kelpies, wow, this was a breath taker. We were expecting to see them around every bend as we knew they were 90ft tall but we were not prepared for our first reaction. These are a massive spectacle worth seeing, they represent the Canal Barge Horse and are well worth a visit, in our opinion.

We stayed in Falkirk overnight and walked back to the Wheel to rejoin the Union Canal for the next stage. Again the information center was less than impressive as the staff member inside turned me away from using the toilet as she was not ready to open up. A bad impression lingers. 

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The Union Canal is noticeably cleaner along it's banks than the Forth and Clyde. In places it seemed to us that people were using the canal banks like a skip. What a pity. It's a wonderful amenity for all, not just wildlife and tourists.  

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 Each day the weather favoured us, there seems to be more people out as the weekend approaches. Linlithgow is a busy small town and is birthplace to Mary Queen of Scots, we met two people on a canoe enjoying the sunshine. On our approach to Edinburgh there were a lot of cyclists traversing in both directions. Such a great way to travel to work, no hills no traffic, no stress. We spent a few hours just strolling around Edinburgh. We have been there before so it was good to relax and enjoy the Royal Mile. We spent our final night in Corstorphine near the Zoo. A wonderful guest house run by an Indian family, they gave us the biggest room in the house as they were not busy. Luxury for backpackers. Because we're worth it. 

We got a flight back from Edinburgh to Dublin for 17euro. 

This was a great walk to undertake and we would recommend it.  The stage maps were very thorough and informative, the stage distance was just about right although we did have to walk a distance each evening and morning to and from our accommodation.  Be prepared to walk 30km. each day unless you're camping. 

Scotland without the midges......... mighty. Go for it ?

 Where to nextIMG 20170307 111132