The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Saturday 14 June 2008

Day 61 - Linlithgow to Kilsyth

14 June
Distance: about a million miles
Actual distance: 22 miles

Well, I'm glad those two days are over. I've had enough of flat ground, big miles and hard surfaces!

Today was not without merit. In fact it had a couple or three notable points.

My starting point for planning a route along the length of the country was that I wanted to go via the Falkirk Wheel. As it turned out, when planning the route in detail, via the Falkirk Wheel was the obvious route in any case, and today was the day for this highlight.

In fact, it was the highlight that kept me going along the almost lifeless (there were big shoals of fish basking in the clear water in places) canal all morning - that and the views of the hills over to our right.

Before the wheel was another feature that I'd not expected: a 620 metre long tunnel, complete with significant water seepage through the roof at times, just to give those walking through the darkness an occasional shower.

A while was spent at the wheel, sitting in the sunshine and watching it working. I like things mechanical and the Falkirk wheel is an impressive structure. I would quote some facts and figures about it, except that the Visitor Centre seemed strangely devoid of any information. Either it was well hidden or you have to take the audio tour - and given the length of our day I didn't want to spend the time on an audio tour. Nevertheless, I went away happy to have seen three rotations of the wheel.

Dragging ourselves away after about an hour, we were onto the Forth and Clyde canal, which at least has the feature of a few locks (the Union Canal wiggles around a bit to keep to the same contour rather than having locks).

Here hoards of people were out enjoying the sunshine, walking or cycling along the towpath (at least until the rain hit, then everyone mysteriously disappeared), but again there was scant life on the water. A few ducks, a canoe and a (smelly) motor-craft.

By a mile from our destination we were suffering from last half mile syndrome, added to which Mick found that he had incurred his first blister of the trip. 880 miles and he goes and gets a blister!

Our B&B for tonight is up the hill on the north side of Kilsyth. That was a shock to the legs after the flatness of the canals. In the world of Anquet mapping (and probably other mapping software too) today's ascent was 1500 feet. Phil over at Doodlecat wrote a post a few months ago about the over-estimation of ascent by mapping software (worth reading, but I can't post a link just now) and if memory serves he reckoned the software to be out by around 20%. Well, some days I reckon that Anquet is about right, others it's clearly way off the mark. Today it was way off.

By my calculation today (a bit difficult to be accurate; I think the ink was all but out when I printed today's map) we crossed no more than 20 contour lines, at least five of them downhill. An alleged 1500 feet of ascent versus a reality of about 500. That's quite an overstatement isn't it?

Post Script: interesting food experience tonight. I'm not sure that including swede and baby new potatoes in the filling of fajitas is entirely authentic...

1 comment:

  1. The Falkirk Wheel is indeed fantastic (including the 620m tunnel). We took the return boat trip from the basin by the Visitor Centre, up in the wheel through the tunnel and back again. It was slightly hazy so the views were impaired. I remember various models in the Visitor Centre, and the boast that it takes only about 20kW to turn the Wheel, such are the fine balance and smooth bearings.