Union Canal (Edinburgh to Falkirk)

This lovely route takes you from the centre of historic Edinburgh to Falkirk. As you cycle alongside the Union Canal you’ll pass fascinating feats of waterway engineering including bridges, aqueducts and the Falkirk wheel, which lifts boats into the Forth & Clyde Canal.

This fantastic route stretches from the centre of historic Edinburgh all the way to Falkirk, where you can experience the impressive Falkirk Wheel in action.

The Union Canal was opened in 1822 and was initially successful. However, the construction of railways meant it fell into slow commercial decline and became disused in the 1930s. It’s now been reopened as a fantastic cycling and walking facility, travelling around 32 miles from Edinburgh Quay in the heart of the capital to the Falkirk Wheel. This feat of engineering is designed to lift boats into the Forth & Clyde Canal.

Starting in Edinburgh city centre, you quickly reach its leafy western suburbs, where you can enjoy lovely countryside views. After eight miles of easy riding, you'll arrive in Ratho. The canal between Ratho and Linlithgow is tucked away between other busier transport links and offers a lovely escape from busy city life.

Numerous bridges, impressive aqueducts and the pretty Linlithgow canal basin are highlights of this 13-mile section of the route. At Linthingow you can visit Linlithgow Palace, which is owned by Historic Scotland

From here you cycle 11 miles to the Falkirk wheel, following a route through a mixture of open countryside and settlements, over aqueducts and under tunnels.

The full route is 32 miles long but you can also cycle shorter sections is you prefer, such as Linlithgow to the Falkirk Wheel or Linlithgow to Ratho.

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Please note

We have taken all responsible steps to ensure that these routes are safe and achievable by people with a reasonable level of fitness. However, all outdoor activities involve a degree of risk. To the extent permitted by law, Sustrans accepts no responsibility for any accidents or injury resulting from following these routes. Walking and cycling routes change over time. Weather conditions may also affect path surfaces. Please use your own judgement when using the routes based upon the weather and the ability, experience and confidence levels of those in your group.

To make sure everyone gets the most out of their time by the water, please ensure you follow the Towpath Code.

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