Read other users walk reports for the long distance trails - and add your own.

NB. This board is for reports on multi-day long distance routes - reports on simply long walks should be added to the standard boards.
Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.

John Muir Way: Falkirk to Croy

John Muir Way: Falkirk to Croy

Postby Ettrick Shepherd » Sun Jan 09, 2022 12:01 pm

Route description: John Muir Way

Date walked: 07/01/2022

Time taken: 1 day

Distance: 20 km

2 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Stage 4: Falkirk to Croy
Walking time: 6 hours
Friday 7 January 2022

I took a couple of birthday annual leave days, hoping to get back out on the JMW. Unfortunately my only pair of walking trousers were as thick as tracing paper. A quick trip to the sales, a base layer and a more suitable pair of trousers later, I felt more equipped for the freezing temperatures. As my first proper Winter walk, I wasn’t sure how many layers I would actually need but what I wore worked out in the end. Just as well, as when I turned up in Falkirk, ice and snow were everywhere. My biggest problem was finding my starting point. After a couple of circles of the train station I eventually found it, hidden at the far end of the car park. The whiteout signs weren’t helping! Finally on my way, I noticed the Union Canal was partially frozen.

Falkirk Start.jpeg
Partially frozen Union Canal (Falkirk)

Once I began, I was also unable to spot the well-trodden paths since they were all snow-covered, I found myself circling again during the first section but it didn’t detract from the glorious blue sky and icy air.

This way...right? Right..?!

By now the sun was getting higher and the snow was melting from the trees like rain. It was beautiful.

Sun rising

Fishing pond.jpeg
Winter postcard

The JMW continued through woodland before heading through a small housing estate, through another wood and then up towards the Falkirk Wheel. I had never been up close and personal with the Wheel, but it’s fair to say that none of the photos ever give it justice. Standing beside it really is impressive. The gears are huge!

Falkirk Wheel from above

Falkirk Wheel from below

Richard Gear

The next section was fairly heavy underfoot with a combination of snow-covered mud, localised flooding or just ankle deep sodden mud paths. If I had been able to keep my gaze up, I would have enjoyed it more. When I did I spotted some geese…

Geese arriving on their holidays

Pretty soon I was at the site of a Roman Fort. Although everything was still white, the signage, the undulations and the winter sun brought ancient history into pretty stunning perspective. Enough to almost give me 2001 Space Odyssey obelisk goosebumps.

Roman Fort

The JMW then took me through another place I’ve always wanted to visit - Bonnybridge. I kept an eye to the skies but witnessed nothing untoward. I still want to believe…Once through the Scottish equivalent of Area 51, I was back onto canal territory…

Forth and Clyde Canal

… with all its wildlife. Wait, what’s that perching? Quick…call the twitchers!

Wait...is that a Red-Headed Woodpecker?

A Swan Paddle-by

By now I was chasing the sun, trying to finish the walk before daylight disappeared. The orb burned brilliantly though and at one point I wasn’t sure if my Bonnybridge wishful thinking was about to come true, probably not helped by the distant trains droning past like Tie Fighters.

Close Encounter of the Third Kind

Walking along the canal from Bonnybridge felt like being trapped in a Hanna-Barbera cartoon where the scenery repeats and repeats and repeats. It wasn’t as monotonous as the Linlithgow - Falkirk stretch though and the water opened up massively with the extra width making me feel much less claustrophobic, anticipating the final Croy adventure to come.

Canal close.jpeg
Wider vista

When Croy Hill appears towards the end of the canal stretch it promises much. Until now, and despite countless Edinburgh to Queen Street train journeys, I hadn’t made the obvious Roman connection. I mean, could the name be more Roman..?! Walking up the hill I was greeted by a replica Roman distance stone and this magnificent Roman head (Silvanus), a recent public art sculpture to raise awareness of the Antonine Wall and the hill’s Roman history. It is pretty spectacular.


The sun was fading fast now. The short winter day something I hadn’t yet encountered on a walk. The hill was inches deep in snow, wind was biting, the light dying, but (for me) this was the best part of this JMW stage. Partly historical heritage but also because having walked at low level for so long, the sudden elevation really stood out.

Chasing the sun

Nearly there (honest!)

Final incline.jpeg
Last incline

There were a few folk on the hill. A mixture of couples, winter walkers and school kids out sledging. Once down the hill I headed to the train station I have passed through so often, but for the first time, finally managed to explore in more detail. It was worth it. Walking time just under 6 hours including food breaks.

Final Steps.jpeg
Final steps
User avatar
Ettrick Shepherd
Posts: 9
Joined: Sep 11, 2019

Re: John Muir Way: Falkirk to Croy

Postby JimGibson » Sun Feb 06, 2022 4:02 pm

Just completed this section yesterday but in reverse! Some beautiful sections on Croy Hill but the sleet and snow made the underfoot conditions tricky. A fallen tree blocking the canal path outside Bonnybridge meant a detour via Allanbridge. Just added to the variety. The lovely sections of Antonine's Wall before Falkirk were terrific. 20 gegrees warmer and we would really have enjoyed the day.
User avatar
Posts: 2
Munros:30   Corbetts:4
Sub 2000:3   Hewitts:7
Joined: Sep 13, 2008
Location: Elgin

Re: John Muir Way: Falkirk to Croy

Postby Ettrick Shepherd » Fri Feb 11, 2022 8:24 pm

I would definitely do this stretch again in better weather. All that history buried under too much snow!
User avatar
Ettrick Shepherd
Posts: 9
Joined: Sep 11, 2019

2 people think this report is great.
Register or Login
free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).

Can you help support Walkhighlands?

Our forum is free from adverts - your generosity keeps it running.
Can you help support Walkhighlands and this community by donating by direct debit?

Return to Walk reports - Long Distance routes

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests