Union Canal Traffic-free Cycle Route

Union Canal Cycle Route Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

The Union Canal, starts by the Falkirk Wheel and ends Edinburgh, 34 miles away. It is a contour canal, therefore has no climbing. There are three aqueducts and two tunnels and the path along each of those is narrow and cobbled, so it’s suggested that you walk your bike along it. Overall, the towpath is quite narrow , but a tarmac route.

The last two miles to the route shown here is on-road, in Edinburgh, to get you to the train station. That will allow you to combine this with the Forth and Clyde Canal, plus a train journey, to form a loop. Be sure to read my Bikes On Trains guide first though.

Photos are by Julie Caldwell and others. Various people helped with the route description.


Almost the entire canal towpath is tarred, and a good surface to ride on, though quite narrow. The surface through the Falkirk Tunnel, and over the Avon Aqueduct is cobbled and very narrow.


Any normal bike should be OK, though road bikes may find it bumpy. Unfortunately, trikes, most cargo bikes and trailers will severely struggle with this route, as it’s so narrow.


There are toilets available at the Falkirk Wheel, at Linlithgow station (off-canal), The Bridge Inn (25 miles), Kingsknowe station (off-canal, 30 miles), and in Edinburgh.

Points of Interest

The Falkirk Wheel is right by the start, and the Kelpies is a relatively short distance away, down the Forth and Clyde Canal.

Routes in Eastern Scotland

See also  Middlewood Way Traffic-Free Cycle Route


There are some chicane barriers along the canal. While trikes might be able to get through, because the towpath is so narrow in many places, this route is unfortunately unsuitable for trikes, and most cargo bikes.


Safety: ⭐⭐
Hilliness: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Refreshment stops: ⭐⭐
Barriers: ⭐⭐
Surface: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Overall: ⭐⭐⭐

The grading system I use is explained here.

Forecast for the Union Canal

What the Union Canal looks like

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DayCycle routes are routes can can easily be cycled by most people in a day, or part of a day. Do have a look at all the other DayCycle routes available on WillCycle. Many contain detailed route guides, as well as embedded maps (like the one below) from which you can download the GPX file for the route.

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