Saturday, 10 August 2024: Bar Hill & Antonine Wall

This walk traces the Antonine Wall, an old stone and turf rampart, that was once the northern boundary of the Roman Empire. It was built about 142 AD on the orders of Emperor Antoninus Pius. It stretched 60km from Bo’ness in the east to Old Kilpatrick in the west.

Our route passes the remains of a fort and bathhouse on Bar Hill, where a large collection of coins was found when the site was excavated, suggesting it was also something of a gambling den.

The route continues through woodland to Croy Hill before a meandering return along one of the most scenic stretches of the Forth & Clyde Canal.

Starting Point for the Walk:

The car park opposite The Boat House at Auchinstarry Marina, Kilsyth (G65 9SG) – OS Reference NS 721 767.  Parking is free.  Toilets available in the hotel.

Getting there: 16 miles/30 minutes

Take your favourite route to the M80.  Exit at Junction 4A, using the left-hand lane to exit towards Kirkintilloch/Kilsyth/B8048.  Keep left and follow signs for Kirkintilloch/Kilsyth/B8048/B802.  At Back O’ Hill Roundabout, take the 2nd exit onto B8048.  At the next roundabout (Craiglinn) take the 3rd exit (continuing on B8048) and at the next roundabout (Blackwood) take the 3rd exit onto B802 signed Croy/Kilsyth.  Stay on this road for about 1.5 miles.  At the next roundabout take the 3rd exit for Auchinstarry Marina.  Park on the right, opposite The Boat House.

The Walk:  Bar Hill and Antonine Wall – 6.6 miles (11 km)  (Shorter options available)

Starting at The Boat House, follow the path in a northerly direction, cross the canal via the road bridge, and turn left through the black and white barrier to pick up the canal towpath.  This gives a pleasant tree lined walk for 2 miles to Twechar.  On reaching the village turn left over the road bridge (over the canal) into Main Street and follow the John Muir Way (JMW).  At an Historic Scotland sign on the left (near the Barrhill Tavern), turn left up a rough farm track which leads to the Bar Hill Fort.  The track rises gently for 1km, giving good views down to the Forth & Clyde Canal and the Kilsyth Hills.

 

At an old disused reservoir on the right, turn left through a gate on the left and follow the path gently uphill.  The remains of the Roman Fort and Bathhouse are over the brow of the hill.  Looking down the hill at its commanding views, the Antonine Wall lies about 60 metres away.  This was the northern frontier of the Roman Empire for around 20 years before the legion retreated south.  Artefacts from the fort and the wall can be seen in the Glasgow University Hunterian Museum.

 

From the fort, continue on a steep track that leads to a small Iron Age fort and trig point on Castle Hill.  Again, there are great views over the valley to the Campsie Fells.  Next, continue eastwards on a descending path along the line of the Antonine Wall picking up a track which goes through gates to join the main Auchinstarry to Croy Road*1.  Cross the road and through a gate (continuing on the JMW), then through a field to a small substation.  Next, turn right through a green metal gate*2 and follow the signs, on the left, to Croy.  The path leads eastwards passing houses on the right.  Next, climb Croy Hill and enjoy views over the valley, the Kilsyth Hills and the Campsie Fells.  Further on, take the central track that goes between the two mini peaks and carry on along the path until the Roman Centurian Statue.  Then take the path to the right that leads downhill to the canal.  Cross the canal and leave the JMW by turning left (westward) onto the towpath leading back to Auchinstarry.

 

Those wanting a shorter walk, can either turn left at the Auchinstarry to Croy road*1 and descend via the road to Auchinstarry (4 miles) or take the track back to Auchinstarry*2 on a less direct route (4.6 miles) .

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