Traffic-free and almost level from Edinburgh to Glasgow, this route follows the Union and Forth & Clyde towpaths.
The Union Canal has no locks, therefore no climbing; its sturdy aqueducts help it keep a level all the way from Edinburgh to Falkirk. The F&C has a few locks, but nothing to trouble the legs apart from the steep Maryhill Flight in Glasgow.
The two canals are joined by the spectacular Falkirk Wheel boat lift. Do make time to marvel at this whisper-quiet feat of modern engineering that uses no more electricity than a kettle. The newer ‘kelpies’ are a few miles downstream at Grangemouth’s waterway junction, not directly on the route but an equally worthwhile visit. A rather more prosaic sight is Scotland’s only floating fish and chip shop, on the canal in Glasgow.
You won’t see many boats on the move; the towpaths are busy in urban areas, but there are long rural or semi-rural stretches which are surprisingly quiet.
The towpath surface has been gradually upgraded since the canals reopened in 2001 and it’s now paved throughout.