Union Canal (Edinburgh to Falkirk)

Route Details

  • To/From: Edinburgh to Falkirk
  • Distance: 30 miles
  • Terrain: Traffic free.  A mix of tarmac, gritted tarmac, cobblestones and rougher trail.
  • Access: Haymarket, Uphall and Linlithgow Train Stations
  • National Cycle Network: National Route 754

Route Description

The canal was opened in 1822 and was initially successful, but 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 30 miles from Edinburgh Quay in the heart of the capital to the Falkirk Wheel, where a massive piece of modern engineering will lift your boat into the Forth & Clyde Canal.

Starting in Edinburgh city centre, you quickly reach its leafy western suburbs with lovely countryside views along the way. You arrive in Ratho after 8 miles of easy riding and the Bridge Inn is perfect for a coffee stop or bar meal. The Canal between Ratho and Linlithgow is tucked away between other busier transport links and offers a get-away-from-it-all feel. Numerous bridges, impressive aqueducts and the pretty Linlithgow canal basin are highlights of this 13 mile section of the route.  At Linthingow you’ll find a great museum and tearoom at the canal basin. You can also access to Linlithgow Palace, owned by Historic Scotland

From here its 11 miles onto Falkirk wheel, following a route through a mixture of open countryside and settlements, over aqueducts and under tunnels.

If the full route is too long, try one of these shorter sections:

Things to see and do

  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Linlithgow Museum
  • Linlithgow Palace
  • Falkirk Wheel
  • Callendar House, near Falkirk
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Map shows the National Cycle Network and local routes in this area.


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. 

30 miles