Walk Day 54 – Uphall to Kilsyth

Day 54 – June 2 Uphall to Kilsyth
 Weather: Sun, Cloud, Wind  B&B: Coachman Hotel (£55)
 Departed: 7:35 Arrived: 17:40  Walked: 8h 42m Rested: 1 hr 0m
 Distance Today: 29.0 mi / 46.67 km  Total Distance: 853.2 mi / 1373.09 km
 % Complete: ~ 73.93%  Pint of the Day: John Smith’s
 GPS Track for: Day 54

One good thing about the Oatridge Hotel is that they serve breakfast from 7am. One bad thing about the Oatridge Hotel is that some moron turned the water off to the top floor sometime during the night. Running water was eventually restored and I was under way by 7:35am, my earliest start to date.

Today’s first objective was to get myself to Linlithgow and my early start meant I would be doing so at the height of rush hour. The roads were stuffed with commuters heading to Edinburgh and so the walking got tricky once the sidewalks disappeared a mile out of Uphall. The situation improved when I headed west on a local road but before I made the turn I enjoyed a great view of the Forth Bridge silhouetted on the horizon.

The local road was surprisingly busy considering there were very few homes in the area. About half way to Linlithgow I passed a large farm named Riccarton. I recognized this from my family history research and it turns out to be the residence of one of my ancestors in the mid to late 19th century. I can’t be sure if they lived in the farmhouse or possibly a cottage that no longer exists. I spoke to the farmer as I walked by and he said it has been in his family since 1926 when it was purchased from the Bailey family. I took a few photos just in case.

I arrived in Linlithgow, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, around 9:30am and immediately began walking west along the Union Canal. The town looks like it would be worth a visit and in retrospect I should have pushed on yesterday afternoon and stayed here instead of Uphall (future LEJOGers take note).

The towpath along the Union Canal is dead flat and makes for easy walking. There was very little boat traffic about, in fact I only saw a single boat, a Waterways Trust Cruise boat with a handful of passengers. I saw a lot of this boat because it also travels at about 3.5 mph.

The first landmark on the canal was the Avon Aqueduct which I crossed on foot. Not as long as some aqueducts I’ve seen but impressive nonetheless. A few miles on I entered Polmont, a sprawling town with a large amount of industry on its doorstep. I left the towpath to pick up some snacks at an old fashioned general grocers a short distance from the towpath. It was a warm day and I needed something to drink in addition to water. There wasn’t much to see in Polmont although Her Majesty’s Young Offenders Institution did leave an impression. From the looks of this prison these laddies aren’t in there for shop-lifting. A 20-foot concrete wall, razor wire and dozens of cctv cameras are testament to that.

The next landmark was the 620-meter Falkirk Tunnel. They say the lord works in mysterious ways and because I missed my shower this morning I was entitled to one this afternoon. Walking through a dark tunnel that doubles as a power shower is an interesting experience and one that I quite enjoyed. Once my eyes adjusted to the darkness I was just about able to make out the big puddles and big drips. The Falkirk Tunnel was good fun.

The third landmark of the day was the famous Falkirk Wheel which I shared with a small circle of friends, numbering in the hundreds. It really is an amazing piece of engineering and if I wasn’t so frickin’ tired I’d tell you more about it. Instead you’ll have to google it and/or check out my photos. I did have a rest here and I got to see the wheel go round. Now having seen this wonderful piece of kit I wonder how many Scotsman question the cost of building it based on what appears to be a complete lack of boats on either the Union or Forth & Clyde canals. The saving grace I’m sure are the tourist boats that visitors can pay to board and ride the wheel round and around.

I had already clocked 18 miles and I was nowhere near Kilsyth, but I was at least on the Forth & Clyde canal. The F&C is a much wider canal and had there been any boats I’m sure they could have sailed three abreast.

The last 8 miles looked pretty daunting and my energy levels were sinking … this was a job for Irn-Bru! I’d never tried an Irn-Bru before but I had passed hundreds of discarded bottles since entering Scotland and figured it must have some special medicinal powers. Alas, it turns out to be nothing more than rusty colored cream soda and although tasty its not something I plan to add to my daily routine. Fortunately my iPod provided some inspiration and in the next hour I covered nearly 4 miles. Eventually the effects of the music wore off and I settled into a Zombie-like shuffle for the remaining miles to Kilsyth. Unfortunately my digs for the night were on an A-road located ¾ of a mile from the canal and so when I finally reached the reception desk my GPS read a record 29.0 miles. A record, I hasten to add, that I have no intention of breaking ever again. I stopped walking 4 hours ago and my feet are still throbbing.

Tomorrow I head to Drymen (rhymes with ‘women’) and have already found a short-cut that should bring the daily mileage in under 20. I’ll also pick up the West Highland Way just outside Strathblane, the trail I will follow all the way to Fort William.

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11 thoughts on “Walk Day 54 – Uphall to Kilsyth

  1. Hi Steve,
    I haven’t written for a while, since I have been busy supporting the CVSA system ( I hate you now, but when you get back, all is forgiven 🙂
    I’m filling for David G. who was tracking your adventure with a map and various picture on the dividers outside our cubicle – pretty the whole wall will be plastered with pictures from the LeJog!

    Glad to see that you are still alive and enjoying yourself, just watch out for the sheep in Scotland – I hear they like canadians!

    Keep hoisting those Ales each day, you can dry out when you get back.

    all the best
    Brent

    • Hi Brent,
      It’s nice to hear from you and to know that you’re enjoying the adventure that is CVSA. I just wish we had a budget to pay you! I look forward to seeing this map on my return … I’m envisioning something similar to Janice M’s adventure in South America. I’m afraid the beer situation in Scotland is grim compared to England. Did you still want me to bring you back that sheep or are you having second thoughts? I have been showing a few your photo and there does seem to be some interest. Cheers, Steve.

  2. I thought about leaving a comment, but I would just be repeating my comments from Day 12 if I did. You are obviously getting stronger, but not necessarily brighter. 🙂

    Good going.

    Ken

    • Yes, I do remember thinking yesterday “didn’t I promise myself I wouldn’t do 26 miles again?” Alas, it was my penance for not booking the WHW sooner. Cheers, Steve.

  3. Wow dude 29 miles – that’s quite the day. I am glad that you took the opporunity to fortify yourself with Scotland’s ‘other’ national drink – Irn-Bru. I kinda feel the same way about it as you do – but every Scot I talked to loved the stuff. Might explain the state of their teeth…lol. Now if there is a lack of local ales for you, I question why you’re not drinking the other national drink – whiskey!!

    Polmont and Falkirk are where one of my family branches is from – do some research for me while you’re there would ya? hehe

    Hope today was easier on you!

  4. I’ve been quiet here but have been following along…29 miles? Geeze. My feet ache at the thought. Keep at it though.

    • Hi Shelly, thanks for your comment. Fortunately the *really* long days are over but I still have a few 20+ mile days to complete, including one tomorrow. Thanks again, Steve.

  5. And here I was thinking you’d be around to help out at the June 13th antiques show at Pearkes! Just catching up on your journey………..I envy you the chance to try out all those ales…and decent pub grub. The rest of us are suffering away with poutaine and back bacon sandwiches, awaiting your return. Great photos by the way! >>> Mike

    • Hi Mike, yes I’m afraid I’m a bit busy on the 13th (Nessie spotting and all). I will hopefully be enjoying a pint in Drumnadrochit at about the time you’re unloading the van. 🙂 Glad you’re enjoying the blog and the photos and thanks for dropping me a note. Cheers, Steve.

  6. Hi Steve,
    That tunnel shower really was a memorable experience,
    glad it’s all going well for you, the west hightland way (i look forward to your opinion). aint we lucky.
    Cheers J.P.

    • Hi John … yes we are. I still have two days left on the WHW but so far so good. I just checked your blog and it looks like you are just about to turn the final corner for the “sprint” north. Keep on truckin’ !

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