I decided last year that it would be good to walk from Milngavie (start of the West Highland Way) and Kirk Yetholm (end of the Pennine Way). I walked my version of the West Highland Way (WHW) in 2003 and the Pennine Way in 1974. Somehow, at the end of the WHW in Fort William I agreed to carry on northwards to Cape Wrath over the following 2 Summers.
Joining the two treks seemed the obvious thing to do. Unfortunately the central belt between Glasgow and Edinburgh is pretty densely populated and I didn’t want to spend days walking through towns so I gave up on the idea for a few years. Then a couple of years ago some friends were talking about enjoying walking along the canals in that area so I had another look at finding a route. My Missing Link Trek was born.
The plan was to walk from Milngavie to the nearest canal and follow that as far as possible eastwards until I could then head south over the hills to Peebles and beyond.
During some web searches I read about the Roman Antonine Wall and saw a few photos. That sounded more interesting to me than sticking to canals the whole time. I also found the John Muir Way (father of National Parks) and Thomas Muir Way (father of Scottish democracy). There were a few others too but these were the useful ones for my route.
Saturday 22nd June 2019
Originally Jan and I were going to walk it together but we couldn’t find anyone to do the luggage transfer so Jan volunteered to be my support team and drop me off each morning and pick me up each afternoon. We decided it was also easier to stay in the same place for the 5 days to Peebles.
It was a bit of a late start considering that it was a 15 mile day, I left Milngavie town centre at 11am.
The start of the WHW looks very grand now with a big metal sign erected between Costa Coffee and Greggs announcing the start. In 2003 it was just a finger post partly hidden, I remember we had to ask someone where it started as it wasn’t obvious.
I headed north to Lennoxtown to pick up the Thomas Muir Way. This followed a small river south through woodland to Kirkintilloch where I followed the canal to Twechar. From here I headed uphill to the Barhill Roman Fort and the first section of the Antonine Wall on my route. It was also the place where I met Jan coming the other way to meet me. Jan had parked our car in Croy, about 3 miles away.
It was just under 15 miles, completed in a bit under 5 hours.
It was dry and warm and mostly walking through the countryside, a good start. We ended the day with a pint at the Boathouse Inn at the nearby Marina.
Sunday 23rd June 2019
Another warm dry day, quite sunny from later morning. Temperature was 18°C rising to over 20°C mid-afternoon.
Lots of long sections of Antonine Wall today and an odd Roman Fort or two. Rough Castle had an impressive section of wall and ditch but no visible buildings, just lots of lumps and bumps.
From here it was a short walk to the Falkirk Wheel, a stunning piece of engineering to link 2 canals together.
Then it was canal walking, followed by Callender Park in Falkirk and more canal to finish at Redding.
It was over 16 miles today and took 5.5 hours, including a 15 minute break at the Falkirk Wheel.