This is one of my favourite walks. As I live nearby I would say that but in the last year I have done it countless times with our dog (who is just over a year old) as the river is great for canine frolicks.
The walk takes you along the river, then back along the canal, passing two 19th century bridges still being used nearly 200 years after their construction.
Keep an eye out for flora and fauna including buzzards, kingfishers, goosanders and a variety of flowers.
It is a fairly level walk with the exception of one bank next to the river. It can be muddy in places so good footwear is needed.
DISTANCE: 3½ miles / 5.75km.
HEIGHT CLIMBED: Negligible except for a steep bank of
about 100ft / 30m.
TIME: 2 hours.
MAP: OS Landranger 65.
PARK: There is parking on Mill Road at Linlithgow Bridge, to the west of Linlithgow. Or, you can start the walk in the centre of Linlithgow, this adds a couple of miles to it.
THE ROUTE: From Mill Road (between the A803/Main Street and a railway bridge) walk down Burgh Mills Lane (signposted to the River Avon Heritage Trail).
Just before the bottom of the hill go left, through a wooden gate – again signed for the heritage trail.
You then pass under the Avon Viaduct. Built in 1840 by the North British Railway Company, it still carries trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The path then drops down to the side of the River Avon and over a small wooden footbridge. Follow the riverside trail upstream through a small wood.
After about two-thirds of a mile you cross a small wooden bridge and emerge into more open countryside. A little further on you pass some holly bushes and cross some duckboards before climbing a relatively steep bank – the only really strenuous part of the walk.
Shortly after this the path reaches some steps which lead you up to the Union Canal towpath. Take a detour right to walk over the Avon Aqueduct which was built in 1820 and is one of Scotland’s highest and longest.
After enjoying the views, including Linlithgow’s skyline in the distance, re-cross the aqueduct and continue along the towpath, looking left for another view of the railway viaduct and the Ochil Hills on the other side of the Firth of Forth.
The canal takes you into Linlithgow with the Palace and St Michael’s Church dominating. The unusual spire was added in the 1960s after the original stone structure became unsafe.
About a mile and a quarter after the aqueduct you will see Linlithgow’s leisure centre to the left. Follow a path down to it and out of the main entrance. Turn left and follow Mill Road, past a roundabout. Then follow the road round to the right to pass below a railway bridge and back to the start.