Revitalising Scotland's Historic Paths for the Future
Contact Details
Home
Project
The Paths
Campsie Fells
Learning Resources
Support Us
Contact
Links

A person walking over a Wade bridge on the Corrieyairack Pass.  Taken by Peter Sanders. Heritage Paths Project
ScotWays
Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society
24 Annandale Street
Edinburgh
EH7 4AN
T: 0131 558 7123
F: 0131 558 1222

email
facebook
twitter
flickr
Join Us
Donate

 

Keyword Search
 


SEARCH BY MAP

Go

ADVANCED SEARCH

Go

 

Path of the Month
Minchmoor Track
Minchmoor Track

Site Design & Hosting by
Digital Routes

© Heritage Paths

 

 

 

Forth and Clyde Canal Towpath

Start location: Bowling basin, River Clyde (NS 451 735)
End location: River Carron, Grangemouth (NS 905 822)
Geographical area: Campsie Fells, Strathclyde and Lanarkshire, Stirling, Clackmannan and Falkirk
Path Type: Industrial Path
Path distance: 56km
Accessibility info: Suitable for Motorised wheelchairs, Suitable for pedestrians, Suitable for Bikes

Back to Search

Route Description

Newsflash! The Heritage Paths (Campsie Fells) Project is very pleased to announce that we have a lovely Campsies map leaflet showing this old route and other paths in the area. To get your hands on one, simply write to us c/o ScotWays (see address top-right) enclosing an SAE and we'll post one out to you.

We have no survey covering the whole length of the towpath, but would be very grateful for one. We have been told that it is mostly accessible to wheelchairs but that there are gates in places that wheelchairs would not get through. This means that, for the time being, wheelchair users are unable to travel the whole length of the towpath in one go.

If so desired, this route can be extended all the way to Edinburgh from the Falkirk Wheel by following the Union Canal towpath.

OS Landranger 64 (Glasgow)

Heritage Information

The Forth and Clyde Canal was built between 1768 and 1790 and was designed by engineer John Smeaton. It runs for 35 miles from Bowling basin to Grangemouth and as its name suggests, it linked the Forth and the Clyde in order to provide for sea-going vessels an alternative to the long and dangerous journey around the north of Scotland. Bear in mind that, another valuable shortcut, the Caledonian Canal didn't open until 1822. Even so, although an east-west cross-country canal had been long mooted, work stalled for a number of years due to a lack of funds. Construction restarted when money was made available from forfeited Jacobite estates and this enabled completion of the canal to Bowling.

To cater for the size of the traffic it was intended to carry, the canal's 39 locks are 60ft long and 20ft wide. The highest section of the canal lies between Maryhill and the Wyndford locks at Banknock and is 156ft above sea level. To serve Glasgow, a branch ran to Port Dundas.

This canal was a vital arterial route and not just for the purposes of trade. Passenger boats could travel the 24 miles between Glasgow and Camelon in five-and-a-half hours, and an intercity link to Edinburgh was later created by the opening of the Union Canal in 1822.

The canal is fed along its length by various reservoirs. East of Kilsyth, Banton Loch collects water from the surrounding hills and keeps the canal topped up. A visit to the loch makes for an interesting diversion from the canal; to reach it follow the Avenue.

Before the advent of steam power, the traffic along the canal was powered by sail or horse. As such, at intervals along the canal there were stables - these two-story buildings can still be seen along the route in varying states of repair. In Autumn 2014, Friends of Kelvin Valley reported that the sadly neglected Craigmarloch Stables will be receiving attention from the Scottish Waterways Trust's Canal College in conjunction with Archaeology Scotland - we look forward to hearing more news.

The importance of the canal to industry can be seen by the number of light railways terminating at the canalside marked on old maps. However, the decline of the Forth and Clyde Canal largely came about through later competition with the railways. The canal was actually bought by the Caledonian Railway and after a long period of decline finally closed in 1963. 

Now owned by the British Waterways Board operating as Scottish Canals, this historic route was rejuvenated by the Millenium Project and it is navigable once more from end to end. The towpath is also used in part by the John Muir Way which as of 2014 runs from Helensburgh to Dunbar. Weaving its way through lowland Scotland, this 215km trail also takes in parts of the Stoneymollan Road, the Gowk Stane Road, the Strathkelvin Railway Path, the Antonine Wall and the Union Canal. Additionally, the towpath forms part of the Thomas Muir Heritage Trail which runs from Clachan of Campsie to Bishopbriggs.

 

 



Copyright: Richard West

Copyright: Elliot Simpson

Copyright: wfmillar

Copyright: Thomas Nugent

Copyright: Thomas Nugent

 

 

Click here to view this path on a map

 

Image Gallery

Copyright: Gordon Brown Copyright: Raymond Okonski

 

[print]

Scotways logo

Scottish Natural Heritage

Heritage Lottery Fund

ScotGov logo

Leader logo

Europe logo