Walking & Cycling
Get fit, relax in the fresh air, or explore your local area!
The Helix path network provides a stunning backdrop for walks, runs or cycling. Our pathways connect 16 communities via 26 kilometres of paths - so there's always a new route to try. Whether you're a serious runner, scenic stroller, dog walker or keen cyclist - there's plenty of room for everyone.
The Helix is a great place to run or cycle - our paths are wide and flat, as well as being easy on the feet having been surfaced with a smooth finish.
We're also lucky to be linked to two National Cycle Routes as well as the John Muir Way, which runs from Dunbar in East Lothian to Helensburgh in Argyll and Bute. You don't have to follow a set path, though - you can get out and explore our extensive path network.
Walk with a group
Walking 30 minutes fives times a week can be highly beneficial to your health and fitness, and it's totally free. Walking is ideal for all ages and fitness levels, and is by far the easiest way to get more active.
We have the following organised walking groups which start from Falkirk Stadium and walk around the Helix park - they are a great way to meet new people and have some fun!
- Monday, 10am, Health Walk
- Monday, 1.15pm, Buggy Walk
- Monday, 7pm, Heart of the Helix Walk
- Wednesday, 7pm, Helix Connect
- Nordic walking* (Usually takes place on a Tuesday evening)
*Nordic walking is a full-body exercise that's easy on the joints and suitable for all ages and fitness levels. It uses specialised poles to help to propel the walker, meaning you walk faster and your body works harder. The support given by the poles makes it easier. (Please note that Nordic walking requires special training before you take part).
For more information on walking groups, training and for other Nordic Walking sessions around Falkirk, contact Barbara McConnell at firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the HArTT route?
The HArTT route (Helix Around Town Tour) is a challenging 28.6km (17.77m) cycle route that uses Falkirk Council's award winning path/cycle networks to complete a circular tour of the Falkirk area taking in The Helix, Home of The Kelpies, Forth and Clyde canal, Falkirk Wheel, Union Canal, Callendar Park and Westquarter Glen before making its way back to The Helix. The route has only one very short road section that is little used by traffic. There are several road crossings and 3 sections where pavements next to busy roads are utilised to link the route. These should be treated with caution, especially if cycling with children. There are several elevation changes and uses a variety of terrain, from purpose built cycle paths to canal tow paths and even some short single track sections. The overall ascent is 194m (637ft).
Who's it for?
It's for everyone but we suggest you are on a mountain bike as there are some rough and sometimes muddy sections. There are several hills that require an out the seat effort, or push, so gears would be helpful. Reasonably fit cyclists could whizz around it in less than 2 hours, where families and novice cyclists could take all day and have numerous opportunities to stop along the way.
We recommend starting at The Kelpies, completing it an anti-clockwise direction. You can park in the Kelpies Car Park or Helix Car Park. This is the best for following signage and making the steepest sections downhill! You will need brakes!!
Before setting off, look for these signs which will help you stay on track on the way around the route:
Start off from the Kelpies and go over the Forth and Clyde's Lock 3 taking you to the opposite side of the canal. As you go over the lock, make a right taking you back towards The Kelpies. Continue to follow the signage and map.
After approximately 3.5 miles/5.6km you reach the rugby fields which you will see on the right. Continue along the path and up towards the crossing at the main road. See the image below for the signage post and bike showing the direction to go.
Dismount and cross the road shown in the picture below. Once across snake around from left to right until you are next to the road. Continue uphill and back towards the main road, picking up the HArTT route sign and continuing along the route towards Falkirk Wheel.
When you approach the Falkirk Wheel, make a left across the bridge towards the Wheel as shown on the image below. You can of course stop here to recharge should you wish. Visit the Falkirk Wheel website for more detail.
NOTE: there is a HArTT sign pointing towards Bonnybridge and Bowling by the canal so please don't be confused by this, simply make a left over the bridge.
Continue the path uphill to the Union Canal. This part of the route gives a lovely view of the Ochil Hills.
Carefully make your way through the Roughcastle Tunnel (below). Your bell and lights might come in handy here!
When you come towards the Falkirk Tunnel (below), do not go through it, instead make a left picking up the HArTT signage, staying on the unsealed path to the right of the Falkirk high station car park.
This leads you to a main road. Make an immediate left, crossing the road at the next HArTT sign and continuing on your route.
After 8.3 miles/13.3km you'll cross the busy Glen Brae road. We recommend you turn right then cross to join the uphill path shortly after.
After cutting through between a play park you're on your way into Callendar woods and Callendar park. The route is fast and slightly rough dropping quickly. After a gradual uphill there is a very fast descent on a sealed path. Brakes essential for the right turn at the bottom that leads to Callendar House, which is free to enter and has a tea room.
Soon after the house the route climbs up through Callendar woods. This can be muddy in sections. Once out of the park a downhill takes you out to New Hallglan road which must be crossed. Once across turn right along the pavement to the end of the crash barrier. Go behind it and follow the single track section down to the Westquarter burn then up again to the road.
From here stay on the pavement beside the busy Redding road. Care should be taken especially if you have children.
After 12.5 miles/20.1km there is a road crossing just beyond a bus stop that has a central island. Once across go back on yourself then through a hole in the wall and look out for a bridge above a lovely waterfall. You're now in Westquarter Glen.
Turn right over the bridge and negotiate a few steps before single track leads you through the glen with the burn on your right. Cross back over the burn by the bridge at the bottom of the hill.
Once out of the Glen cross the river once again and climb up to the main Polmont Road.
Turn left and stay on the pavement, crossing the road to join the Sandy Loan. This is the only road section on the route and is short lived. At the T junction turn right and down a very steep hill then under the A9. Just before the top of the hill there is a great view north to The Kelpies.
After a couple a flat but sometimes windy section on purpose built cycle paths you'll arrive at a small cottage on the Laurieston road. The signage is very misleading here. Do not turn right as the road is narrow and used regularly by HGV's. Instead stay on the path and continue on the cycle track until just before the roundabout on the A9 where you cross the road and continue on the same cycle path heading towards Falkirk Stadium.
Do not cross the A9 but turn right towards Falkirk Stadium. At its entrance road turn right and follow the cycle path...you're almost back at The Helix!
Veer left here...
...then right shortly after looking for a disused railway bridge that'll you'll go under and into The Helix.
We then recommend you go over the boardwalk which involves a short dismount for safety reasons which takes you back to your starting point.
Well done you! You deserve a refuel at the Visitor Centre!
We've tried to make The Helix pathways as accessible as possible for all -all our pathways within the park are smooth and flat.
If you'd like to learn more about health, sports and exercise for the physically, mentally or sensory-impaired, get in touch with Forth Valley Disability Sports for more information and support.
Click here to see a fantastic video they did of a cycling event at The Helix and Kelpies on Facebook, promoting disability cycling.