Great North Trail Part 5: Central Belt

Ride level Experienced cyclist
Distance 52 mi / 84 km
Type of bicycle Mountain bike
Traffic free
Circular route

Edinburgh to Glasgow

Part 5 of Cycling UK's Great North Trail, an off-road route from the Peak District to Cape Wrath or John o' Groats.

See places to stay, eat and visit in the full route guide


Best for

A long distance family-friendly ride which can be done in one big hit, or a number of sections. 

Visiting both Scotland’s capital city and largest city, with some easy, pleasant cycling in between. 

Area and route

The fifth leg of this trail crosses the central belt of Scotland, from the capital city of Edinburgh in the east, to Scotland’s largest city Glasgow in the west.

While the city centres are highly populated, bustling hives with lots to do and see, the journey between is scenic and tranquil with impressive aqueduct crossings along the way.

The riding is nearly all along well-surfaced cycle paths, with very little gradient.

You can make a quick and easy day of it, or go for a leisurely break halfway in Falkirk. If you do that, you can take in the serene setting, the horse-head sculptures of the Kelpies, the Callendar cycle trails or a boat ride on the awe-inspiring Falkirk Wheel.  


Super simple, following the cycle path alongside the Union Canal to Falkirk, and then the cycle path beside the Forth & Clyde Canal into Glasgow.    

Difficulty rating

The following ratings use the colour-coded mountain bike trail grading system - see here for an explanation. They are intended as a guide only, to help you decide which sections are best for you:

Green/Blue: Mostly Green, but Blue overall due to the proximity to the canal (the path sometimes goes immediately next to it with no barrier or verge). There are also a number of low bridges with narrow paths beneath them, and some narrow sections of trail and cobbles, plus aqueduct crossings.  

Note: If so desired, you can enjoy some optional Blue and Red grade cycle trails just off the route.