Start location: Bargeddie (NS 705 638)
End location: Calderbank (NS 766 624)
Geographical area: Strathclyde and Lanarkshire
Path Type: Industrial Path
Path distance: 9km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians, Suitable for Bikes
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We haven't yet uploaded a description for the route along the canal. However, from the Summerlee Heritage Park in Coatbridge to Calderbank, it is followed by the North Calder Heritage Trail. It is also shown on North Lanarkshire Council's SMARTways map as part of an extensive network of walking and cycle friendly routes. The map is available for download, pick up a copy locally or send a large SAE to us c/o ScotWays via the address top-right.
The Monkland Canal was built to bring cheap coal to Glasgow from the Monklands coalfields. Work began in 1770, but a series of financial problems meant that progress stuttered and almost stalled with the canal incomplete. However, in the late 1780s, Andrew Stirling breathed new life into the project - the Monkland Canal was to be joined to the Forth and Clyde Canal at Port Dundas in Glasgow and also to be extended further east.
Ultimately the Monkland Canal was a little more than 12 miles long and had taken 24 years to build, but once completed it was a success. Coal mines were opened, and in the nineteenth century it became even more important due to the development of ironworks in Coatbridge. Although it was primarily an industrial canal, passenger boats were popular. They operated from below Sheepford Locks to Blackhill. To continue to Glasgow necessitated changing boats and the whole journey took two-and-a-half hours in total.
Elsewhere, canals saw a decline through competition with the railway, but the Monkland Canal helped counter competition with the railways by the construction of side-cuts to several ironworks; a restored side-cut is still visible at Summerlee. The canal traffic peaked in the 1850s and 1860s, when over 1 million tonnes of coal and iron were being transported each year. Although there were plans to create a new branch from Palacecraig these were defeated, it was the beginning of the end - in 1867 the canal was taken over by the Caledonian Railway and there was little investment. As the coal seams became exhausted and the iron trade closed, canal traffic declined, stopping completely in the mid 1930s. It was closed to navigation in 1952.