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Forth&Clyde + Union ride querry

Posted: 7 May 2019, 1:49am
by Sid Aluminium
We came over in 2017 to visit the wife’s USAF offspring @ Mildenhall AFB. As a part of the holiday, we rode Sustrans 72/Hadrian’s Wall. Loved it, but the hills proved ‘challenging’ for my wife, an enthusiastic but not strong cycletourist.

She said she wants to ride again on our summer 2019 visit but on an easier route this time. I suggested riding between Edinburgh & Glasgow via Sustrans 754/the canal towpaths over a couple of days & incorporating some time in the terminal cities. She’s all in.

Like two years ago, this would be a part of a longer visit where we’ll be going to several places and doing a variety of things. In ’17 we contracted pretty much turnkey on the popular Hadrian’s Wall route with SaddleSkedaddle & they fixed us up with bikes, overnights and baggage drops. 754 seems to be an easy, low mileage ride, used mostly by locals (?), and here’s the thing: I can’t find a concessionaire who caters this ride. Perhaps just poor Google-fu? Anybody got a lead or a contact for this sort of thing on this route?

Thanks!
SA

PS - There are a lot of ways to skin this cat. We could bring our own bikes from Texas, but it’s kind of a lot to schlepp across the ocean and around on the rest of the trip. We could rent bikes in either city and take them back on the train, but that complicates visiting both cities and we’d have to figure out how to tote our dunnage.

PPS - Okay, the Union and Forth&Clyde canal paths aren’t Grenoble to Die over Alpine balcony roads, but it is a ride I can share with my wife. :) We aren’t absolutely averse to a suggestion of a different easy route that is plied by concessionaires, but we do sort of have a general northern itinerary for this trip including Edinburgh & Glasgow.

Re: Forth&Clyde + Union ride querry

Posted: 7 May 2019, 2:47am
by irc
I've cycled Glasgow to Edinburgh several times (I stay near Glasgow) including once with my non regular cycling wife. It is a nice easy two day ride.

For me the easiest way to do it would be to start in Edinburgh. Assuming you are in a city center hotel book three or more nights. This lets you leave all your non biking gear in your Edinburgh hotel room. Have bike hire booked

For example this hire place is close to Edinburgh Waverley train station.

https://cyclescotland.co.uk/bike-rental.html

Then leave Edinburgh in the morning on the 45 minute train service Edinburgh Waverley to Glasgow Queen Street. Trains run every 15 minutes. No need to book ahead. The trains take bikes without any need to book or take the bikes apart.

From Glasgow Queen Street the canal is less than a mile. Routefinding is pretty simple once you are on the canal. There is one point about 2 miles from the Glasgow end where the canal forks and you need to leave the towpath and go under a bridge to get onto the Falkirk towpath. It is well signed though.

Have your hotel halfway along booked. This one for example is right beside the canal in Falkirk around halfway 25 miles from Glasgow.

Premier Inn Falkirk Central, Main St, Camelon, Falkirk FK1 4DS•0871 527 8388

Second day follow the Union Canal back to Edinburgh and return the bikes. Around 30 miles along the Union Canal. At the Edinburgh end the canal finishes a within a mile of the city center.

I'd suggest riding the canal Glasgow to Edinburgh for two reasons. Prevailing winds tend to come from the west. Though much of the towpath is sheltered by trees there are a few sections where you notice a headwind. Secondly it's hard to beat ending in sight of Edinburgh Castle. The only reason to do it the other way round might be if you were here during the Edinburgh Festival in August when hotel prices in Edinburgh go through the roof.

The bike hire shop I mentioned above advertises it's bespoke tour service if you want to do less of the arrangements but aside from booking your hotels and bike hire the rest is pretty simple. No need to book trains ahead and google maps at either end should get you to and from the start/finish of the canal.

Re: Forth&Clyde + Union ride querry

Posted: 7 May 2019, 4:49am
by Cyril Haearn
Interesting language Sid, 'tote our dunnage' = 'carry our luggage' I think :wink: (approval)
I would rent a place in the middle for a week and hire cycles locally, you can speak the language and look after yourselves, no need to carry lots of luggage, use the trains

Re: Forth&Clyde + Union ride querry

Posted: 7 May 2019, 8:07am
by Norman H
It would also be worth considering the Coast and Castles route between Newcastle and Edinburgh.

http://www.coast-and-castles.co.uk/

https://cycle.travel/route/coast_and_castles

There are plenty of options for cycle hire and tour operators.

https://pedal-power.co.uk/

Re: Forth&Clyde + Union ride querry

Posted: 7 May 2019, 11:32pm
by Jamesh
"Non regular cycling wife" interesting terminology!
Where can I find one of those?!! :D :D :D

Cheers James

Re: Forth&Clyde + Union ride querry

Posted: 8 May 2019, 2:12pm
by Sid Aluminium
Not to cut off any further suggestions, but muchas gracias to everyone who replied and offered experience & expertise!

Re: Forth&Clyde + Union ride querry

Posted: 8 May 2019, 2:16pm
by Sid Aluminium
Cyril Haearn wrote:...you can speak the language...


After a fashion, but I was able to reduce more than one Briton to amused stupefaction with my 'Texan'.

Re: Forth&Clyde + Union ride querry

Posted: 8 May 2019, 5:39pm
by irc
Sid Aluminium wrote:
Cyril Haearn wrote:...you can speak the language...


After a fashion, but I was able to reduce more than one Briton to amused stupefaction with my 'Texan'.


My sympathies. I've toured in much of the USA (including crossing Texas) and been reduced to miming a book when I wanted directions to the library in rural small towns. Most Americans never hear a Glaswegian accent. I've had various guesses as to my nationality ranging from Irish, Dutch, German. In rural Kansas though I met one couple who immediately pinpointed me as Scottish. But she was a former long distance phone operator.

Re: Forth&Clyde + Union ride querry

Posted: 8 May 2019, 7:14pm
by Sid Aluminium
irc wrote:...Glaswegian...


That inspires me to ask: say a fellow was moseying around Glasgow or Edinburgh, visiting the castles, big old churches &etc. ya'll've got, would he be likely to find solid places to secure a bicycle (given a quality lock, well employed)? Or just best to leave the bike back at the bivouac and take Shanks' nag while in the city?

Re: Forth&Clyde + Union ride querry

Posted: 8 May 2019, 9:30pm
by RickH
Sid Aluminium wrote:
Cyril Haearn wrote:...you can speak the language...


After a fashion, but I was able to reduce more than one Briton to amused stupefaction with my 'Texan'.

An English friend of mine used to work for the USAF & I remember one of his tales of acting as "interpreter" between a Texan airman & the Essex girl he was trying to chat up in a bar! :lol:

Re: Forth&Clyde + Union ride querry

Posted: 9 May 2019, 11:14am
by LollyKat
Sid Aluminium wrote:That inspires me to ask: say a fellow was moseying around Glasgow or Edinburgh, visiting the castles, big old churches &etc. ya'll've got, would he be likely to find solid places to secure a bicycle (given a quality lock, well employed)? Or just best to leave the bike back at the bivouac and take Shanks' nag while in the city?

I live in Glasgow and sometimes also work in Edinburgh and have never had a problem leaving my bike around during the day and evening. Both cities now have a lot of Sheffield stands (though these are sometimes filled with hire bikes) and if you can lock your bikes together with decent locks onto a single stand you shouldn't have any problem. However another option is to take one of the hop-on-hop-off tour buses to see the sights and get an overall impression, then return another day to the ones of most interest.

Re: Forth&Clyde + Union ride querry

Posted: 9 May 2019, 11:56am
by irc
Sid Aluminium wrote:
irc wrote:...Glaswegian...


That inspires me to ask: say a fellow was moseying around Glasgow or Edinburgh, visiting the castles, big old churches &etc. ya'll've got, would he be likely to find solid places to secure a bicycle (given a quality lock, well employed)? Or just best to leave the bike back at the bivouac and take Shanks' nag while in the city?


Both Glasgow and Edinburgh city centers are compact enough that walking is easy. Glasgow city center is roughly 1 mile across. Going outside that to the west end for example the Exhibition center, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum there is a frequent train service and underground. Edinburgh has the tram and a good bus service. Personally if spending the day in either city I'd walk and avoid city center traffic, one way systems, and the bike security question.

That said use a good lock and park in busy areas during the day and the theft risk is low. I've parked my bike off and on in Glasgow for decades and never had it stolen. Most bike thefts in Glasgow (I used to deal with them) are unlocked bikes, or from garage or shed break ins, or overnight from semi public places like stairwells (or closes as we call them).

Depends on the bike as well. I'm comfortable parking my scruffy tourers or flat bar bikes during the day. A high end road bike or a quality MTB no as they are bigger targets.

Re: Forth&Clyde + Union ride querry

Posted: 9 May 2019, 12:51pm
by Navrig
irc wrote:
Sid Aluminium wrote:
Cyril Haearn wrote:...you can speak the language...


After a fashion, but I was able to reduce more than one Briton to amused stupefaction with my 'Texan'.


My sympathies. I've toured in much of the USA (including crossing Texas) and been reduced to miming a book when I wanted directions to the library in rural small towns. Most Americans never hear a Glaswegian accent. I've had various guesses as to my nationality ranging from Irish, Dutch, German. In rural Kansas though I met one couple who immediately pinpointed me as Scottish. But she was a former long distance phone operator.


Never mind rural small town USA, I live on the east coast of Scotland and, as a kid, needed a translator when speaking to my uncle from Easterhouse.


I'd walk around both cities. A bike will just make it awkward.

Re: Forth&Clyde + Union ride querry

Posted: 1 Jul 2019, 10:01pm
by Sid Aluminium
The trip draws closer. Excitement builds. Detail plans being made.

Hmm.

Falkirk to Edinburgh: National Cycle Network 76 along the Firth of Forth or the 754 along the Union Canal?

The 76 seems to have more points of interest and grander views, but a more convoluted route, some sections along A roads and (depending on how up-to-date Google Street View is) includes a few muddy tracks.

Thanks!

Re: Forth&Clyde + Union ride querry

Posted: 2 Jul 2019, 4:59am
by Cyril Haearn
Please to report on your experiences in a strange familiar land