17 August 2015

Run for the Hills

I live near the Leeds Liverpool canal in Saltaire. So near that I can watch the boats go by from my office window and wave to the dog walkers on the towpath. It forms part of my own dog walk most days and a vibrant, lively place it is too. There are boats and bicycles, parents with toddlers and serious walkers. There's a floating cafe and a swing bridge and locks. There's football in winter and cricket in summer on the adjacent playing fields and all year round the stunning architecture of Titus Salt's Victorian mill village. 
Canals rock. So it was with no hesitation that I agreed to walk the Union and Foth and Clyde canals between Edinburgh and Glasgow. There was a logic behind this abandonment of my beloved hills to follow the same contour for over 50 miles. In the last year we'd walked the Pennine Way from Edale to Kirk Yetholm (for our Heart of the Pennine Way book), the West Highland Way from Milngavie to Fort William (for fun) and a combination of St Cuthbert's Way and the Southern Upland Way from Kirk Yetholm to Edinburgh - Are you keeping up? Maybe a map will help.

Our walks

Anyway we had a gap and although I can happily live with gaps in my life Tony likes to finish the job (it's a man thing) so, clutching Cameron McNeish's Scotland End to End guide, we set off to join the dots.

It was flat and long and pretty enough but although we made good speed it was surprisingly difficult to keep motivated.  We rarely met another soul. There were cyclists and local dog walkers around the towns and villages, there were the occasional walkers on the John Muir Trail and once in a flood a boat went past. For a major navigable waterway across the centre of Scotland it was seriously short of boats. The Leeds Liverpool it was not.

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The highlights were all off route. The pretty little canal basin at Linlithgow, the fabulous, amazing Falkirk Wheel and the climb (hurrah) up Bar Hill to the Roman fort on the Antonine Way. 

Falkirk Wheel

Bar Hill
The accomodation was great, we ate and drank well and everyone we met was welcoming and friendly. I enjoyed the psychological achievement of crossing the country and the little break from daily life but as we headed west into Milngavie and the Campsie Fells came into view my heart began to lift and my tired legs revived. 

Am I glad I did it? Yes, I think so. Would I do it again? No, I wouldn't. 

Am I looking forward to some fell walking? YES, YES,YES.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is serious illness once you start joining all your walks up!
Been doing it since I was 13 - you can come see my wall map sometime.