Stand Up Paddling on the Forth and Clyde Canal – Stage 2

Location – Old Kilpatrick to Dalmuir via the Forth and Clyde Canal
SUP – SUP – Own Fatstick Inflatables, Pink Panther* and Blue Lagoon (*Pink Panther now has a new design – check it out here)
Cost – No hire, transport or parking costs
Conditions – Freshwater Canal
Other users – Potentially canal boats and kayaks on the water along with Cyclists, walkers and runners along the tow path.
Entry Point – Wooden floating pontoon.
Surrounding amenities/Bathrooms- The Glen Lusset pub would have amenities and refreshments for before or after the trip

Getting There –  The entry point was on the corner of Dumbarton Road (A814) and Erskine Ferry Road, approximately 15km West of Glasgow


Current Weather Conditions

A Wee Blether

This was a paddle we did a year or so ago and have only just gotten around to writing about it. It was a nice little paddle completing a wee bit more of the Forth and Clyde Canal.  We are doing the canal in small bite size chunks just as we feel like it but it would be great to get from one side of Scotland to the other.  We’ll see how we go.  The only problem, if you could call it that, is we will end up paddling it all twice because we park, paddle, turn around and paddle back to where we have parked, so while the distance travelled today was 6km we really only covered about 3km of the canal.   We have looked into trying to incorporate public transport for the return journey but once out the other side of Glasgow this looks a little problematic. There are parts of the canal around Falkirk and Linlithgow where the train passes through so we may try to utilise it for that segment of the canal – it will mean we can go a lot further in each trip! So far we have just done between locks as the first two parts are only separated by one lock so you can get a fair distance before having to get out and ‘portage’ around them.  

This part of the canal was a little busier than the part down to Bowling.  We set off from the pontoon along the Erskine Ferry Road where it passes over the canal. There was a spot for parking off to the left and the pontoon was on the right as you cross the bridge. We paddled down under the Erskine Bridge which is where we got to on our last paddle but had to turn back. We caught up with our old mate the grumpy swan, he was swanning about with his four signets that were significantly bigger than last time we saw them, also his Mrs was home from work so they were having a family day out.  Fortunately they didn’t seem to see us as much of a threat today and we paddled past.  Some interested cyclists stopped to take a photo though.  I’m not sure if they were hoping for some ‘Swan Attacks Aussie SUPers’ youtube footage or just thought the family looked cute paddling along in a row but they were interested in what we were doing out on the canal and how far we had come.  We had a few chats with people as we were going along, most of them somewhat bemused that some crazy Australians were paddling along their ‘dirty canal’ as one bloke called it only he had a Scottish word for it that I can’t remember and no amount of googling is proving helpful!  In fact he told us rather good naturally that he thought we were ‘Aff yer heids’

We paddled all the way up to where the canal passes under Dumbarton Road at Dalmuir. Getting out here and in on the other side of the road looked a little tricky and we noticed that there were quite a lot of lochs through the next section so we called it a day and retreated to regroup and plan how we might undertake the next part of the canal. We worked out that there are about 11 lochs in between Dalmuir and Maryhill as the topography of the land changes considerably. We may be able to catch the train to Dalmuir and paddle up to Westerton station which means that we will only have to portage the lochs in one direction, it’s still about 11 portages but easier than going in both directions. Looking at the map there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of lochs after Maryhill for quite a long distance and I think there are a couple of places that the ruins of the Antonian Wall intersects so I am really looking forward to paddling through there. Also the area around Linlithgow is really lovely especially the Avon Aqueduct which will be a SUP-it List item for me to cross off!!

I think the canals are an untapped resource for paddling. By nature they do have a lot of strange objects and litter in them compared to the natural waterways however we were quite surprised at just how clear the water was looking down through it we were able to see a lot of aquatic plants (and the occasional abandoned shopping trolley!). Check out our short video and see for yourself. One of the things I have always loved about stand up paddleboarding is the vantage point it gives you over the water. It’s amazing what the extra height of standing up gives you over sitting down as you do in kayaks and canoes and interestingly the canals have been no exception to this. paddling on the Forth and Clyde Canal has been a little like paddling in a giant aquarium. Interestingly I think people are starting to make the most of the canals as there have been a few more paddlers out using them recently, the COVID19 lock down changes have meant that while we are allowed back on the water, we are limited to the distance we can travel to get there. It would be great to see more people out on the water and enjoying this fantastic piece of history and unique resource.


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