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]

Thursday 29 April 2010

Day 38 - Beecraigs Country Park to Kilsyth

Thursday 29 April
Distance: 23 miles (Tot: 649.25 miles)
Number of canal-going craft we passed/passed us in 19 miles of canal walking: 0

Ever since our first week, back down in Kent, we have been seeing trees bursting from bud to leaf, but the majority of trees have been more brown and twiggy than green thus far.

This morning, walking along the canal, the trend was most definitely green. Spring is here!

As further evidence of this fact, last night was by far the warmest yet.

With today being the longest of the trip (per the plan, anyway), an early start was called for, so it was just before 7am when we strode out of the campsite.

Looking at the map, you would believe that to walk north from the campsite to join the Union canal involves road walking all the way, but thanks to some woodland trails and then a trail running adjacent to the road, it's possible to get most of the way there without the peril of cars.

The Union Canal is a lovely waterway along much of the length that we walked today, but with a complete lack of any life on it, it's not the most interesting walk that can be had.

It sped us on in the right direction, so much so that we didn't just achieve our target of 11 miles by 11am (a target just for today's big distance, I should say, it's not something we usually try to do), but we smashed it. By my reckoning, the Falkirk Wheel was reached after 12.5 miles of walking, and that's where we arrived at just gone 11am.

An hour was spent there, refuelling in the cafe whilst watching a couple of rotations of the wheel. My opinion formed on our LEJOG that it is a fascinating and fantastic bit of engineering is unchanged.

My opinion formed on our LEJOG that this is was the most incredibly dull day of walking of the entire trip is also unchanged (which does beg the question as to why we repeated the same route). The only redeeming features were the Falkirk Tunnel (worth walking through just to marvel at the work that must have been involved in carving it out, but expect a few showers from the leaky ceiling!), and the Falkirk Wheel.

With only 3 locks worth of ascent the whole way from joining the Union Canal at Linlithgow until leaving it some 19 miles or so later at Kilsyth, and with a made path the whole way, my feet were screaming at me from the constant pounding of landing the same way on every step (rough ground and hills have their benefits). The intense boredom probably doubled the pain, as I did notice that once we started walking uphill in Kilsyth to get to Allenfauld Farm (where we're staying tonight - it's off route but very nice indeed, not to mention the only option) the pain disappeared almost completely.

We're now unexpectedly ensconsed in a log cabin. It's new at the B&B since we last stayed here in 2008, and due to a changed booking in the house we have not just a room tonight but a well-equipped mini-house.

Waiting for us in the cabin was the next re-supply parcel, including a change of footwear. Tomorrow I change from the slippers in which I have been walking thus far (Inov8 Terrocs for the last 300 miles) to my boots. Gulp!

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  1. You're in my part of the world...only a couple of miles away...wish you'd given me a shout. Agree that this is possibly the most incredibly dull part of the country (lol).

  2. Weird! I really enjoyed the canal stretches between Edinburgh & Glasgow! I also got a good soaking in the Falkirk Tunnel.

  3. I remember doing that stretch last year. The Falkinrk wheel is amazing - but unfortunately I had to eat my lunch sitting on a bench outside the fenced perimeter as I couldn't go in with Patch!