Roman ambition knew no bounds. In around AD142, some 20 years after the construction of Hadrian’s Wall, the Antonine Wall was erected across central Scotland in a bid to take the north.
But, despite having created one of the largest empires ever seen, the Romans were stymied in their attempts to advance. They faced unrelenting attacks from the Picts, who harried the 37-mile long wall. A visit to the fort at Rough Castle, now woodland-edged, will transport you to that era.
A A triumph of engineering
Start from the futuristic-looking Falkirk Wheel, Britain’s only boatlift. Follow the sign at the back of the visitor centre for the Union Canal. Halfway up the hill, branch right to pass under the canal aqueduct that meets with the wheel. Take the second right to follow a gravel path into the Rough Castle Community Woodland.
Continue on the gravel path straight ahead, signed ‘Roman Fort’, ignoring any turn offs to later merge with another gravel path that runs right, by a railway fence. Walk on to follow a sign for the fort.
B Rough Castle Roman fort
This leads to a steep grassy slope – the southern edge of the Rough Castle fort.
Bear right to explore. The Rough Castle fort occupies around half a hectare, and would have been home to 500 soldiers tasked with defending their section of the earthen-built Antonine Wall. The rampart and ditches can be followed round the fort, and ruins of once important buildings are clearly visible. Also in evidence are some nasty defensive pits, which troops would fill with pointed stakes and camouflage over.
Bridges lead across a burn to a very well preserved section of the wall. Continue west, past a car park, and along the road. As you near Bonnybridge, take a shortcut on the right under the Forth & Clyde Canal. Turn right and keep straight on at a roundabout. Then branch right for the signed towpath.
C Forth & Clyde Canal
From here, simply follow the canal left for a return to the Falkirk Wheel, reached via a footbridge (open during daylight hours).
This wooded stretch makes a lovely finish to the walk on a summer’s day.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Edinburgh, take the M9 west for Stirling. Exit at Junction 8 and follow signs for Falkirk Wheel. The Falkirk Wheel is accessible by bus from either Falkirk Grahamston or Falkirk
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