Kirkintilloch to the Campsie Hills

The Forth and Clyde Canal follows roughly the same route as the Antonine Wall; the reason for this being simply that it is the shortest distance between the east and west coasts of Scotland. Before the Forth and Clyde Canal was built, ships wishing to get from the west coast to the east would have had to sail round the top of Scotland: a distance in excess of 482.8 km and a very arduous and dangerous journey especially in rough weather. The proposed line of the canal on the other hand was only 56.3 km long. Digging began at Grangemouth on the River Forth in 1768 and took 22 years to complete, finishing at Bowling on the River Clyde in 1790, where the company chairman poured a hog's head of Forth water into the Clyde. Commence along the tow path of the canal in a easterly direction. The canal goes on by way of Twechar, a small mining and quarrying village, and passes close to Barr Hill and Croy Hill, which have a Roman fort on each. This area possesses the best stretches of the Antonine Wall to be seen within a short distance from the canal. These Roman remains are easily accessible.

Leave the tow path and cross over the canal at the bridge which carries the road into the village of Twechar. Keep to the left side of the road for about 100 m then you will see a track going off to the left. Take this for 400 m up a long hill until a covered circular concrete reservoir is reached, then take the path to the left, through a gate and on another 50 m to Barr Hill Fort. From here there is a very good view of the canal and the surrounding countryside below. After returning to the tow path at Twechar, continue east, and very soon Auchinstarry is reached. The canal passes under the B802 (the Kilsyth to Cumbernauld Road) at Auchinstarry, and is spanned by a non-opening bascule bridge.

Some 300 m away in the direction of Kilsyth is a disused quarry which has been turned into a leisure area by Kilsyth and Cumbernauld District Council. The floor of the quarry is under water, forming a small loch surrounded by landscaped areas in the foreground with the backdrop of the 30.5 m high whinstone face exposed behind. This is also worth a visit, and, as there is a picnic area, it is an ideal spot for a welcome break. On for about another 2.5 km to Craigmarloch, where the canal crosses the road to Dullatur. This is where the main source of water enters the canal, the inlet being right beside the road and running in a lade from Banton Loch 1.5 km away to the north. The loch is reached from the canal and the route continues, firstly by turning north for about 800 m, to the A803, the Kilsyth to Falkirk Road.

On reaching the A803 turn left and follow this road for about 400 m, taking care here for it can be busy, then turn right into Colzium Country Park, the entrance of which is signposted. On entering the park carry on along the road for another 400 m to Colzium House. Banton Loch can be reached by turning right on to a track just before the park car park is reached.

Great Days Out in Kilsyth

While passing through Kilsyth, why not stop off and visit the World Heritage Site of the Antonine Wall, which is the actual remains of the original wall built to keep the Picts out of Roman territory.

The historic burgh of Kilsyth is also home to the picturesque Burngreen park, which has something for everyone. Burngreen Park has trampolines, tennis courts, a football pitch and putting for both children and adults. Dumbreck Marsh is also a short drive away, and features some fascinating wildlife.

Tel: 01236 616436

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