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Forth and Clyde canal - Banknock to Stockingfield Junction

Forth and Clyde canal - Banknock to Stockingfield Junction


Postby nigheandonn » Fri May 08, 2020 9:07 pm

Route description: Forth & Clyde and Union canal towpath

Date walked: 16/12/2018

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Part 1: Forth and Clyde canal - the Kelpies to Banknock

I had to take a different route back to where I had left the canal, as the buses through Banknock didn't run on a Sunday - instead I took a bus from Stirling to Castlecary and made a longer approach from the south by a road which turned out to be closed to traffic, although there was nothing to stop me getting through.

Although it was mid-December there had been nothing like snow on the ground when I left Edinburgh, and I wasn't expecting it, but here away from the coast there was at least a kind of slush.

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Back to Wyndford lock

From Wyndford Lock I only had to start heading west again, a long fairly straight stretch to the bridge at Craigmarloch. The day had been a bit overcast at first, but within half an hour the skies had cleared, and it was a perfect winter's day.

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Blue skies

This was once the destination for canal trips from Glasgow, with a tearoom and a shop and a playpark, and walks up Croy Hill (which the John Muir Way wanders off to climb).

One thing still remaining nearby, though, is the building which was the stables at Croy hill, the first of a set built for the horses used along the canal - originally built on the bank of the canal, they eventually had to be set well back on firmer ground, as the foundations kept sinking.

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Croy hill stables

Beyond the bridge I was in the shade of the hill, a narrow curving stretch with a definite covering of snow underfoot.

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Snow underfoot

I was getting closer to the marina at Auchinstarrry, however, and before long I was back in the sunshine, and meeting the first moored boats.

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A line of boats

This was once the port for Kilsyth, nearby to the north, but seems to have reinvented itself quite successfully for pleasure, with a pub on the opposite banks as well as the moorings.

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Auchinstarry marina

This stretch keeps tucked in right under the slope of the hill, making some surprisingly sharp bends - possibly to find firmer ground - and although there was less snow on the path there was ice on the water.

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Ice on the water

The canal is still running over flat ground - the only lock I passed on this stretch was the one at the beginning - but the northern edge of the valley is now lined with hills#, rising quite suddenly, and just dusted with snow.

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Passing the hills

The stables at Croy Hill seemed to be more or less whole, although roofless, but the next set at Shirva were more of a ruin, and fenced off from the path.

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Shirva stables

Hillhead basin, on the east side of Kirkintilloch, was the first terminus of the canal for a few years, connecting the town and the countryside around to the sea while the stretch towards Glasgow was still being built, but now it's little more than a slightly wider stretch of canal.

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Coming to Kirkintilloch

The 'unique bridge' at the Luggie Water carried the canal over a railway on a bridge over a river, but even before the railway came along the aqueduct seems to have been considered an impressive engineering feat.

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The Unique bridge

Where the road crosses the canal in Kirkintilloch there are two panels giving local history - the building which was once a canal inn hiring out horses is still there although now an Italian restaurant, but the boatbuilding yard is gone.

On the far side of the town some newer buildings have been built right beside the water - the reflections are good, but it makes the canal feel quite hemmed in.

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Reflected buildings

The modern marina at Kirkintilloch is beyond that again - #not busy in the sense activity at this time of year, but full with moored boats, and with buildings containing a very welcome toilet.

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Kirkintilloch basin

Beyond the town is a much emptier stretch, trees and afternoon light and the first time in a while that towns have really been left behind.

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Winter light

Beside what is marked on the map as Glasgow bridge - presumably meaning on the road to Glasgow - is one of very few buildings around - originally another of the canal stables, and now the Stables pub.

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?Stables pub

Sunlight and open water and trees made this a very good stretch for reflections.

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Reflections

The hills have really withdrawn a bit from the canal by now, but with the sun out again there was a lovely view to the north.

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A country view

The canal meets buildings again at Cadder - on the map the very tip of the sprawling outskirts of Glasgow, but on this side of the canal only an impressive old church and a couple of houses.

Mist was lying across the canal here in distinct streaks, a slightly eerie sight.

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Cadder mist

I was on the final stretch into Glasgow, but the light was fading as I headed along towards Possil Loch. I had a deadline to be back in Edinburgh, too - my original plan had been to walk to where the canal meets the Port Dundas branch, but I had figured out that I could cut off a bit earlier and head straight for Gilshochil station

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Sunset on the canal

Just past the loch the canal threw up another stunning but very different reflection - I especially like the way the moon and one of the small trees are so much more distinct in the water than above it.

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Possil reflection

By the fourth stables, at Lambhill, I left the hill and hurried off along the road to a station which showed no particular sign of being there - a very local kind of road. I went slightly round the wrong way, but I would just have missed the train anyway, so had to make my way out to Maryhill Road - past the canal junction, so I could just as well have followed it down - to catch a slow bus into town, and get home cold and too late.
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nigheandonn
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