Forth and Clyde Walkway
West Dunbartonshire to Edinburgh, Scotland
Start: Bowling Basin
End: Edinburgh Quay
Distance: 35 miles (56 km)
Time: 5 days
Surface: Surfaced Towpath
Designed by civil engineer John Smeaton and completed in 1790, the Forth and Clyde Canal was the largest single engineering project undertaken in Scotland, and by the mid-1800s it was transporting more than three million tons of produce and ferrying in excess of 200,000 passengers annually through the scenic Clyde Valley and passing by the spectacular Falls of Clyde. Built to provide a link between the east and west coasts of Scotland, the canal and its forty locks remained in continuous use until 1963 when it was closed to through traffic to avoid the necessity of building a traffic bridge over it.
The Forth and Clyde Walkway begins at its westernmost point of Bowling Basin where the canal enters the Firth of Clyde, and continues eastward through Glasgow, Clydebank, Bishopbriggs, Kilsyth, and Falkirk, before ending at Edinburgh’s Lochrin Basin. It can be completed in three roughly equal sections: from Bowling Basin to Auchinstarry Basin at Kilsyth; from Auchinstarry Basin to Linlithgow Canal Centre, and from Linlithgow to Lochrin Basin at Edinburgh Quay. Despite its occasional proximity to large towns, it still manages to achieve a distinctly rural feel with the help of urban backwaters such as the Possil Marsh Nature Reserve, a loch in the midst of Glasgow. Once the Forth and Clyde Walkway reaches the countryside, most walking is along remodeled and very green embankments.
The canal has now been reopened and restored, thanks to the £78-million Millennium Link Project. The world’s largest equine sculptures-two 100-foot-high (30.4 m) horse heads from Celtic mythology by artist Andy Scott-were unveiled inNovember 2013 near Falkirk, a gleaming addition to a reborn pathway.