Adventures on the Forth and Clyde Canal

Cycling along Edinburgh’s canal: Lochrin Basin to Almond Acqueduct

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Adventures on the Forth and Clyde Canal
A house boat near Leamington bridge in Edinburgh

This is one of my favourite scenic routes through the leafy, pastoral and mountainous outer suburbs of Edinburgh and East Lothian heading out into the countryside. This epic shared pedestrian and cycling path goes all the way from Edinburgh to Glasgow (56km one way) alongside the Forth and Clyde Canal.

With pastoral views onto large paddocks with highland cows (coos) and lambs in them, fields of flowers, old pubs, golf courses, old kirks, forests and roads that snake away over the top of the canal.

Type of bike you will need

I recommend getting a decent commuter bike with balloon wheels and plenty of gears if you want to tackle the entire 56km otherwise for shorter parts of the route, any old bike will do.

Route difficulty

Easy to moderate. It’s almost completely flat and so you can cherry pick and tackle parts of the route. If you do tackle the entire thing 56km from Edinburgh- Glasgow or Glasgow-Edinburgh then it’s harder work obviously. But you could catch the train back if you’re too tired, which costs about £15 one way.

Optimal weather

Keep an eye out for one of those five perfect days per year when it’s sunny in Edinburgh, otherwise expect wind, hail, storms, snow, sun and heat all to happen in one day – good luck.

What to take with you

Take some water with you, your wallet, sunnies, and bring warm clothes as it will inevitably get cold, no matter what time of year it is.

Great for

Commuters, weekend visitors, people training for big cycling events. It’s a longer route and so it can be used for training.

Adventures on the Forth and Clyde Canal
The canal near to Polwarth and Merchiston

Route Description

 

The pathway is relatively narrow in some parts, especially once you get outside of Edinburgh, with some bridges having blind spots on the other side. So watch for women walking their wee’uns in buggies or old people walking on the path. You will come to a set of public gym equipment in Westerhailes (an outer suburb of Edinburgh) where you can do press ups and chin ups to your hearts content.

Once you are outside of Edinburgh’s suburbs then you generally won’t see many people on the path except for the occasional fellow cyclist. The pavement is broken and not maintained well alongside the canalway outside of Edinburgh. Brambleberry bushes and ivy tend to almost cover the cycling path in some places – this lends itself to the feeling of exploration and adventure, I recommend embracing it J, just don’t literally embrace the ivy unless you want to have a life of pain for the following week.

I used this route to commute to outer Edinburgh for work each day, and it was great for fitness.

Canoeing on the Forth and Clyde Canal

I also did a lot of canoeing with friends along the canal and you can see some of the pics I took here.

Adventures on the Forth and Clyde Canal
A springtime forest alongside the canal
Adventures on the Forth and Clyde Canal
No better place to be – on a canoe heading down the canal at dusk on a summers eve

Distance

The Forth and Clyde Canal runs around 56km one way from Edinburgh to Glasgow with many interesting scenic stops along the way.   I can’t speak for the whole route personally as I was relatively unfit at the time of living there and so never tackled the entire thing. (A diet of haggis pizza, oatcakes and whisky will do that to you).

What I can tell you though is that the route from Lochrin Basin (the start in Fountainbridge) to Almond Acqueduct its mostly flat and incredibly scenic.

Adventures on the Forth and Clyde Canal
Public exercise equipment in Westerhailes along the canal

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