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From Ratho to Edinburgh a canal perspective

From Ratho to Edinburgh a canal perspective

Postby desmondo1 » Sun Feb 26, 2017 3:51 pm

Route description: Union Canal: Ratho to Lochrin Basin

Date walked: 21/10/2016

Time taken: 3.26 hours

Distance: 14.89 km

Ascent: 50m

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After my hill efforts yesterday I decided on a low level walk today. My walking plans for next year included walking the full length of the Forth & Clyde canal which runs from Bowling near Dumbarton across the central belt to Edinburgh. However, as I was staying close to Ratho I took this opportunity to walk the 1st stage, albeit in reverse, from the walks normal Edinburgh start to Ratho. It is much easier to get transport connections from the city centre rather than Ratho, hence my choice of direction.

Fixed housing and flexible boat housing
I have not been in Ratho for years so was surprised by the new housing as well as the canal boats. A pleasant and popular pub/restaurant located here.

You are straight onto the canal path and this stretch for about 3 and a half miles is through pleasant countryside particularly so as the trees were entering their Autumn colours phase. However, it is also a fairly noisy stretch as you are close to the main Glasgow motorway and Edinburgh airport, so just try and block the constant drone out.

The canal is popular with holiday barges but I thought that the season would be past but I did see 4 on the move today. Friendly waves from 3 of them but one grumpy bearded guy stared straight ahead, probably an English tourist.
Bird spotting included kingfishers, moorhens, buzzards and umpteen small tit/finch flocks.

First boat cruises towards me
Be aware the canal is very popular with cyclists and there were plenty around today and some of them obviously do not like walkers.

The canal crosses over the Edinburgh road bypass and now you enter a more industrial and and somewhat grimmer area including the housing schemes of Wester Hailes.

Wester Hailes housing block
However there was much more people activity on this stretch. More people using the canal path, walkers and locals, some with early morning beer cans in hand. A group were getting some canoe coaching. A bird spotter tells me what he has seen today. Another group of young kids getting kitted out. Rowing boats were many: singles, doubles and even a four man crew. They presumably must up oars if another boat comes the opposite direction as the canal is rather narrow and extremely murky should anyone fall in.

Looking down to Water of Leith and railway
When the canal goes over the Water of Leith the environment changes again, parks and more affluent suburbs along with Boroughmuir rugby ground and sport complex.

Another rowing club hut, at least the 3rd, sits on the far bank with this poster of dedication to the Olympian, David Florence (3 Olympic Silver medals), one of its members.
As more people are around I reflect that I have heard more Polish voices today than English speakers, interesting sign of the times.

Then I come to today's walk conclusion. More modern housing built around the canal. Boats moored and this impressive lift bridge.
It is strange to then walk through a passageway to now be at Fountainbridge in the heart of the city of Edinburgh. A 5 minute stroll to Princes Street. Just brilliant and I know where I am going for a pint of Edinburgh brewings award winning Paolozzi before I get the bus home.
A really enjoyable and varied low level walk of 8.1 miles with enough diversity to keep your interest for the full walk.

Not sure what this carving depicts, miners, canal labourers?
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