Forth and Clyde Canal at Kilsyth


The canal towpath makes an ideal short walk. Left - Auchinstarry Basin - right - towpath  Photos: RK

Parallel to the Antonine Wall, and extending for 56 km (35 miles) from the village of Bowling on the River Clyde in the west of Scotland to the large town of Grangemouth on the River Forth, the Forth and Clyde Canal was built during the later part of the 18th century (begun on 10th June, 1768) and operated until 1st January, 1963. Navigation along its entire route is now possible through the Millennium Link project and Falkirk Wheel

As the shortest (and easiest!) route across Scotland, the canal towpath provides an ideal weekend walking tour or cycling excursion, with a good choice of overnight accommodation at the midway point in Kilsyth for the traveller and many other local attractions to make a longer stay a worthwhile experience. It's easy to reach by public transport or car from anywhere in Scotland.

Kilsyth-Auchinstarry Basin (B802)

Forth & Clyde Canal Society's Gypsy Princess 36 seater trip boat
Private Charters from 20
Public Sailings: Sunday 2pm and 3pm-May to September

Contact: Paul Carter
High Banton
TEL: 0236 822437 (Evenings)

The Forth and Clyde was the first canal built in Scotland, linking its two major waterways for trade and transport and providing an additional three-mile branch to Glasgow from Port Dundas. Created to accommodate sea-going boats, its 39 locks are over 18m (60 feet) long and nearly 6m (20 feet) wide; its highest point of 48m (156 feet) is between Banknock (Wyndford Lock) and Glasgow (Maryhill). The engineers who built the canal included John Smeaton (1768-73), Robert MacKell (1773-79) and Robert Whiteworth (1785-90), with no work carried out in the period 1777-85 during much of the American Revolution. The first steamboat, the Charlotte Dundas, carried out trials in 1802 on the canal, and the Forth and Clyde was also one of the first canals to carry vehicles such as carts and railway wagons. In 1868 it was bought by Caledonian Railway and its present owner is British Waterways.

The Forth and Clyde Canal links Grangemouth, Falkirk, Bonnybridge, Castlecary, Twechar, Kirkintilloch, Lenzie, Maryhill (Glasgow), Clydebank, Erskine and Bowling.


Auchinstarry basin is the natural overnight point for a canal cruise, cycle tour or walk, and a short walk (half-mile) from Kilsyth town centre for essential supplies and refreshment. The basin is a 15 minute stroll from Croy railway station with direct trains every 30 minutes to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Falkirk High and regular half-hourly local bus services from Croy Station and Kilsyth. Photos RK

Falkirk Wheel in Motion

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The world's only rotating boat lift connects the Forth and Clyde and Union Canals, replacing a series of 11 locks. The spectacular official opening ceremony was performed before Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on May 24th.

The 115ft high structure at Camelon near Falkirk is able to lift eight boats at a time. It has taken two years to build and is part of a 78 million Millennium Link Scheme which allows boats to pass along the 68 miles of canals between Glasgow and Edinburgh and between the rivers Clyde in the west and Forth in the east.

Events & News

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Who to contact?   Alan Muir 01505 320194


Local Canal history and facts: 

Wetlands and wildlife along the canal:

Fishing information:


The canal is a place of great calm and natural beauty with magnificent views and wildlife. The Antonine Wall crosses Croy hill in the background. Photos RK