Map of Union Canal from M8 crossing to Philpstoun
Map derived from data (c) OpenStreetMap

A720 to M8 Philpstoun to Avon

Finally leaving the motorway behind completely, the canal meanders through open farmland to the town of Broxburn. There are British Waterways buildings and sometimes boats by bridge 23, as well as remains of older buildings which used to be joined onto the bridge structure itself. The canal enters the town by passing through a large red brick bridge on the Broxburn Bypass (formerly A8, now A89). Broxburn's canal port is Port Buchan, a small basin further north, next to the main road bridge.

The canal curves back on itself at this point - sticking to the contour meant it wasn't always possible to take the shortest route. There is another restored blockage at Greendykes Road where new bridge 27 has replaced a former road culvert that was becoming an eyesore as well as obstructing navigation. Beyond here is the slightly alien looking red landscape of the old shale bings on the north side, and a slipway on the south. West Lothian once had a thriving shale oil industry, and although that's far in the past now, the red hills of waste that it produced still dominate the landscape to this day, and are popular with unauthorised off-road motorcyclists.

Craigton Bridge (no. 35)

After passing Niddrie Castle and leaving the bings behind for now, the canal reaches Winchburgh where there is an impressively deep cutting. One of the alternative proposals for the canal route involved a long tunnel here, similar to the one on the nearby railway line, but this would have increased the cost of the canal substantially. Between Winchburgh and Linlithgow is the longest and remotest rural section of the Union Canal. The main features are the bridges, mostly standard stone arched ones but with a few variations - the arch of bridge 34, in the woods near the ruins of Auldcathie Church, has been replaced by a flat deck, though the abutments and the number keystone are still there. Bridge 35, Craigton, is one of the most ornate of the bridges.

West of Bridge 38, the bings are back by the canal again, this time on both banks. Past the bings, Philpstoun, the only settlement for several miles, is reached. The canal passes south of the village on an embankment, with a little stone aqueduct over a road and another even smaller one in an adjacent field.

Spillway and bridge with bing in the background, near Philpstoun

View photos of this section of canal in the gallery