EDINBURGH AND RETURN FROM FALKIRK
You can do this route from :
Edinburgh has a host of fabulous attractions, from iconic Edinburgh Castle with the Crown jewels displayed to the National Museum of Scotland & great theatres offering excellent shows .
For 3 night trips cruise to Linlithgow and take a short train ride to Edinburgh, cruise is only 9 hours in total
The marina is adjacent to the magnificent Falkirk Wheel visitor centre.
The Falkirk Wheel is one of Scotland's top tourist destinations and attracts visitors from all across the World, one of the most stunning backdrops anywhere on the canals, . The Falkirk Wheel is 115 feet high – the equivalent height of eight double decker buses and offers visitors a real treat. It is 115 feet wide and 100 feet long. The wheel will lift loads of 600 tonnes (300 at each end) and stands in a 330 feet wide circular basin with moorings for over 20 boats. Before re-development, the site was a deep open cast pit left behind by mining which ended in the early 1980s. The total project cost was approximately £17 million and work took 22 months. The wheel is designed to last for at least the next 120 years. It is the world’s first rotating boat lift and the first boat lift to be built in Britain since the Anderton Boat Lift in Cheshire, which dates from 1875.
Linlithgow is a town with an ancient and distinguished history. Linlithgow Palace was a favourite home of the Stewart kings and queens and was the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Linlithgow itself was an administrative centre for many centuries.
Read our cruising notes to help you plan your canal boat holidayRead our cruising notes.
The Forth & Clyde Canal is much wider than the average English canal. The Union Canal is a contour canal and has no locks at all nor bridges that have to be opened. British Waterways staff currently operate all of the locks and bridges and boaters are not allowed to operate the locks themselves, although help is happily accepted. Between Falkirk and Glasgow there are 4 locks and 3 road bridges, with a further 18 locks and a number of pedestrian bridges between Glasgow and the Clyde at Bowling.
Both the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals were closed in the early 1960’s and it was not until lottery funding was obtained in 1999 that restoration works rejoined the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh by canal. At a quarter of the cost of the overall £84.5 million project, the Falkirk Wheel is the most significant structure by far, but only one link in the scheme involving rebuilding bridges, clearing blockages and cutting new stretches of canal.
From 2018 a Rover Ticket will be charged by Scottish Canals for use of the canals. This will be a flat charge of £25 for any holiday over three nights. Use up to three days will be charged at £15. This Ticket will be administered by Scottish Canals through their website and office. Payment will be taken on the first day of the holiday at the office in Falkirk.
It is imperative you bring a mobile phone and a 3-pin plug charger. If you do not have a phone, you can rent one from the Falkirk Base at a nominal charge. You will need to contact the Falkirk Wheel staff to arrange return passage through the wheel and to contact other Scottish Canals Boat Movements staff if and when required.
Some useful info for cruising time:
It’s 3½ hours cruising from Falkirk to Kelpies-1 hour to transit Wheel and Top Locks-1¾ hrs to Tesco from Top Locks or 4 hours from Top Locks to Linlithgow-4 hrs from Linlithgow to Ratho and finally another 4 hours from Ratho to Edinburgh Quay
Cruising East to Edinburgh:
All boats departing from Falkirk are given the Skippers Guide map and whoever does your handover will very kindly write on it where certain points are and times between certain points too .
You do not need to book your outgoing passage through the Falkirk Wheel as your passage will be booked by the Falkirk marina staff as part of your handover. As soon as you are ready to leave, they will guide you to the first lock which is just around the corner.
Once through the lock you are in the Wheel basin and the lock gates will be opened for you to crusie straight into the bottom Gondola of the wheel.
The wheel closes at 6.00pm in June, July and August. From March to May and September, October the wheel continues to close at 6.00pm on Fri/Sat/Sun but 5.00pm Mon – Thu. However all boats must be in the system by 5pm and 4pm respectively.
Enter the gondola and someone at both the bow and stern should go onto the walkway and tie off the boat. Everyone should get back onto the boat whilst The Wheel turns. British Waterways staff will tell you when to leave the gondola.
What better way to start a canal cruise than by ascending twenty-two metres up on the iconic and unique Falkirk Wheel? For many waterways the rest of the journey would be an anti-climax but as the canal was built to follow a seventy-three metre contour along its thirty-two mile length the requirement for aqueducts produced three, and to top it all the canal winds through beautiful lowlands scenery and leads directly into the heart of the incomparable city of Edinburgh.
If you are lucky enough to have clear and sunny conditions the views over the lowlands from the slowly rotating Falkirk Wheel are astonishing, being Scotland though, the chances are the weather is not so good so cross your fingers well in advance. The canal leaves the wheel on a modern aqueduct elevated above parkland looking out over gorse bush thickets and woods, the newly built Roughcastle Tunnel looms, takes the canal under woodland for a short way before coming out to a severe right-angled left turn and going immediately into an equally new two lock flight which are the only locks found on the Union Canal (these are manned).
There are spots to moor after the locks with open ground to the right to explore and take in the views, there is a small aqueduct named Greenbank just a little further on with some more spots to moor up giving convenient access to Summerford Park on the north bank and Tamfourhill and Canada Woods to the south, but the railway line that runs directly parallel to the canal may dissuade you from spending the night. The canal veers to the right at a wide spot and plunges in to the Falkirk Tunnel, make sure you don your waterproofs and sound your horn before entering, but the tunnel is quite refreshingly after the somewhat sterile looking locks, aqueducts and tunnel so far. This is an original feature of the canal full of character being part brickwork and part natural rock, the end result is getting dripped on down its 640 metre length.
A good stopping place for the night is by Bridge 55 Blairlodge Bridge as there is a Tescos east of the bridge for those forgotten essentials, and a canalside pub/resturant called the Canalside Pub & Grill, its about 90 minutes from Falkirk Tunnel. From here its about 8 hours to Edinburgh.
There is an equal mix of wooded, industrial, agricultural, urban and heathland scenery as the canal heads eastwards away from Falkirk past Brightons and Polmont. After the crossing of the A801 the canal and railway line part ways and the canal winds in a more south easterly bearing through a very open rural area towards the twenty-six metre tall twelve arched Avon Aqueduct, at nearly 250 metres long it is the second longest in Britain. On the approach to the aqueduct the trees flanking either side of the canal block much of the view of the wooded rolling hillsides beyond the aqueduct, more of the view is unveiled the closer the canal gets until the threshold of the aqueduct when the whole vista is unfolded. Good news for sufferers of vertigo, unlike the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal that only has railings on one side and a heart-stopping drop on the other, there are railings and brickwork towpaths on both sides of this towering structure as it carries you high over the valley floor below.
There is a short journey towards Linlithgow from here, the winding high street is full of character and plenty of choice for restocking provisions but by far and away the highlight of this pleasant little town is the staggering loch side fortified palace and adjoining church of St Michael. Whichever angle you view the palace ruins from it is astoundingly beautiful, the mind boggles at the sheer opulence of the castle and the surroundings and views offered up.
Linlithgow is a town with an ancient and distinguished history. Linlithgow Palace was a favourite home of the Stewart kings and queens and was the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Linlithgow itself was an administrative centre for many centuries. Surrounding the Palace is a large and pleasant green area knownas The Peel and beyond that is the Loch where you can fish for Rainbow Trout, or try windsurfing, kayaking and canoeing and even a spot of sailing.
Today the town is bypassed to the north by the M9 but remains an exceptionally busy place: and it retains enough of the character and charm of its past to place it high on any list of "must visits" in central Scotland.
There are many bars and restaurants in Linlithgow including: The Star & Garter Hotel, The Four Mary's, Park Farm and Park Bistro.
The canal is bordered by trees at almost all times but beyond Philipstoun it traverses through some really dense woodland reaching over the waterway in places and is full of wildlife. It is regrettable that the railway that latched on to the canal at Linlithgow is not shaken again until near Broxburn, other than that the M9 gets a little close for a while, but with a thick belt of trees following the course of the canal almost constantly between Philipstoun and Winchburgh the canal is cossetted away from a lot of the noise and disturbance beyond.
There are not much in the way of amenities in Winchburgh but just to the south of the village is a golf course which is easy to spot as right in the middle sits the shell of Niddry Castle, another fortified grand house, nowhere near the scale of the palace in Linlithgow but is very striking and worth the small walk to explore.
The canal meanders somewhat in the area as it heads southwards away from the motorway, it is after all a contour canal and such twists and turns are to be expected. The fishing between Philipstoun and Broxburn is very good as it is along the whole canal, it is quite common to catch perch and roach throughout the Union. There is an opportunity to shop for provisions at Broxburn, there is a large industrial park to the east of the town that the canal winds directly past, the way out of the town is more scenic than the way in, winding through arable farmland.
A mile or so out of Broxburn the canal passes under the M8 motorway and moves away a little towards the wooded valley spanned by the Almond Aqueduct, although smaller than the Avon Aqueduct it is still an impressive 128 metres long and twenty-eight metres high with a five arched construction, but what is no less impressive is the terrific views over the wooded valley and river far below and far reaching views to the south. Much the same as the Avon Aqueduct there is a brickwork towpath to each side as well as very welcome railings .
Regrettably the canal traverses alongside the M8 for some time, the bank of trees thickens somewhat on the way into Ratho bringing some relief from the incessantly noisy road. Ratho offers some amenities including a post office, a couple of convenience stores and a pub all within a very short distance of the canal. The Pub is actually almost Canalside, called the Bridge Inn. It has good reviews.
It is 4 hours from Briudge 55 to here, so a good place to stop for lunch.
There is a golf course alongside the canal as it plunges back into a thicket of trees around the northern flank of the golf course and back into arable land beyond as the canal approaches the very modern Scott Russell Aqueduct crossing the busy A720 dual carriageway, after which the canal follows the road for a short time before turning away into the outlying residential suburbs of Edinburgh.
At Harrison Park you can fill up with water and its a good icdea to phone Edinburgh Quay now to let them know you are half an hour away and will need the Leamington Lift Bridge raising to get into the Quay. You can moor there wherever you see a spot.
The canal winds through open parkland, a golf course, housing estates and some very modern high rise apartment blocks through to the older areas of the city to reach the terminus of Lochrin Basin in the heart of historic Edinburgh. The basin gives easy access to the sights of Edinburgh, Princes Street, Edinburgh Castle and the wonderful views from its grounds, The Royal Mile and more pubs and restaurants than could be frequented in a month. A few days can be filled easily here before heading back westwards and experiencing the relaxing delights of the Union Canal once more.
There are many attractions in Edinburghagood idea to get a feel of the city is to jump on one of the tour buses. Some include entrance tickets to the Castle, and the Palace of Holyrood and the Royal yacht Britannia .
Subsequent movements through the Falkirk Wheel:
On your return journey it is important to remember you need telephone the Wheel 24 hours before you are due to be there and then again after you emerge from the Falkirk Tunnel on 01324 676912 to arrange your travel back through the wheel (approx. +2 hrs cruising time from Falkirk)
In order to arrive back in good time you will have to be back at base the evening before you disembark. This means being at the top locks at 4pm ready to transit back down the Falkirk Wheel that evening. This is due to the Falkirk Wheel not operating before 10.00am, as daily safety checks are carried out before hand.
NB: This route has been provided as a guide only. Information may become inaccurate or out of date. You should always check with the marina that the route is possible within your time frame, current weather conditions and canal stoppages etc.
Maps and Guides
Pubs available on this canal route:-
|Pub Name||Pub Address||Distance from Falkirk||More Info|
|The Wheelhouse||Millennium Wheel Drive, Falkirk FK1 4AD||0.57 Miles||Full Details|
|Goose||25 Upper Newmarket, Falkirk FK1 1JH||1.91 Miles||Full Details|
|Carron Works||Bank Street, Falkirk FK1 1NB||1.98 Miles||Full Details|
|Castlecary House Hotel||Castlecary Road, Cumbernauld G68 0HD||4.57 Miles||Full Details|
|The Black Bull||Main Street, Polmont FK2 0PX||4.94 Miles||Full Details|
|The Boathouse||Auchinstarry Marina G65 9SG||8.72 Miles||Full Details|
|The Four Marys||65 High Street, Linlithgow EH49 7ED||9.25 Miles||Full Details|
|The Kirky Puffer||1 Townhead, Kirkintilloch G66 1NG||13.11 Miles||Full Details|
|The Volunteer Arms||103 East Main Strret, Uphall, Broxburn EH52 5JA||13.78 Miles||Full Details|
|The Duddingston Arms||13 Main Street, Broxburn EH52 6QE||14.70 Miles||Full Details|
|The Stables||Glasgow Bridge, Kirkintilloch G66 1RH||14.50 Miles||Full Details|
|The Bridge Inn||27 Baird Road, Ratho EH28 8RA||18.49 Miles||Full Details|
|The Counting House||2 St Vincent Place, Glasgow G1 2DH||18.83 Miles||Full Details|
|The Curlers Rest||256 Byres Road, Glasgow G12 8SH||19.76 Miles||Full Details|
|Lock 27||1100 Crow Road, Glasgow G13 1JT||20.18 Miles||Full Details|
|The Glen Lusset||67 Dumbarton Road, Old Kilpatrick G60 5DA||24.71 Miles||Full Details|
NB: Distances are as the crow flies and will vary for actual canal boating travel distance.