Rough Castle and the Falkirk Wheel are between Falkirk and Bonnybridge, in central Scotland.
An easy walk of maybe 40 minutes on footpaths through woodland, with the option to extend further. The Falkirk Wheel lifts canal boats from the Forth and Clyde canal up to the Union canal. There is a visitor centre and cafe here. Rough Castle is the remains of a fort on the Antonine Wall.
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The Falkirk Wheel is easy to find by following the brown and white tourist signs. The easiest way to get there, is from the M876 that links the M9 Edinburgh to Stirling motorway, and the M80 Glasgow to Stirling Motorway. Exit the M876 at Junction 1, then follow the signs for Falkirk along the A883 until you reach the Three Bridges roundabout. Here you take the second exit for the Falkirk Wheel. As you drive down Millenium Drive towards the wheel you will see a free car park on your left. You can continue right down the the Wheel and park there, but there is a £3 car parking charge.
You can see a map of the route here.
Assuming you parked in the free car park, head down towards the Forth and Clyde canal, turn left and follow the canal tow path along to a foot bridge. Cross over the canal and follow the footpaths behind the visitor centre and past the car parks, then take the footpath that runs beside the raised Union canal. This footpath forks, so take the left fork, the path that does not go under the canal. Follow this path up a slight incline until you join the Union canal towpath, then after about 100 yards, take a left turn that goes up and over the canal tunnel. It is worth taking a small diversion down the towpath first to see the tunnel. As you climb above the tunnel, take a left turn onto a cycleway, then trun right, over the tunnel and through the trees for about 300 yards until you reach a junction in the paths. Take the left hand path and follow that down to a signpost that shows you a right turn leading to Rough Castle.
It is worth spending a little time exploring what remains of the fort and the vallum ditch,.
You can, if you wish, extend the walk by continuing west to Bonnybridge, where you will find the Forth and Clyde canal. Here, turn left and follow the canal towpath back to the Wheel.
Otherwise, head back towards the wheel through the woods, either retracing you steps. or taking a different route slightly north of the way you came. When you reach the crossroads in the paths, take the right turn as this brings you back to the raised part of the Union canal, where you can walk underneath it, and so back to the Wheel visitor centre.
The Romans were active throughout southern and eastern Scotland at various times, and in 140 AD, the emperor Antoninus Pius decided to build a new wall between the Forth and the Clyde, so cutting off the northern tribes and establishing a new north-western frontier. The Antonine Wall was built from AD142 to 144 and ran for 37 miles from Bo'ness on the River Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the River Clyde. Rough Castle is one of the forts built to protect the wall. It is actually the second smallest on the wall, but it is the best-preserved, with parts of the Antonine Wall ditch, a portion of rampartand defensive lilia pits to the north of the wall.
The Falkirk Wheel is no quite so old as the Antonine wall, as it was opened in 2002. It is a rotating boat lift that connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. It is well worth a visit as part of this walk.
The Union canal is 35 meters higher than the Forth and Clyde canal. The two canals were joined by a series of locks in the early 20th century, and it took most of a day to negotiate them. Now, the wheel lifts boats by 24 metres, then a pair of locks raises the boats the remaining 11 meters up to the aquaduct. The Falkirk Wheel is unique, as the only rotating boat lift in the world. The aquaduct and tunnel were all constructed at the same time as the wheel, resulting in a marvel of British engineering.
The Tow path by the canal should be disabled friendly
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