Home

 

PLACES TO VISIT

For

  • information about local places to visit within easy reach of Armadale

  • information for those holidaying in or visiting West Lothian

  • useful links

Updated 6 September 2012

Please note that the following listing is not meant as a comprehensive guide, but merely as an indication of family favourites.  You may have other places that you could recommend!

If you decide to visit any of the places described below, you are advised to check for up-to-date information before travelling.

TOURISTS and VISITORS
West Lothian What's On Guide
West Lothian Twinning Association West Lothian Hotels Walking Routes Cycling Routes
Scottish Communities Friends of Scotland Scottish Youth Hostels Association

 

The National Trust for Scotland

 

Local History

 

Bathgate

Bathgate is also the birthplace, in April 1971, of David John McDonald aka David Tennant, well-known as a stage, film and television actor, but particularly as the tenth actor to play The Doctor in Dr. Who.

Only the site of Bathgate Castle now remains under the turf of Bathgate Golf Course.  It is situated south of present railway line and adjacent to Guildiehaugh playing fields represented by a 2 - 3m high mound inside 2 ditches, facing the drive from the medal tee at the tenth hole of Bathgate Golf Course.  In 1328, the Castle was given as a dowry by Robert  Bruce when his daughter Marjorie (elsewhere Marjory) married Walter, High Steward of Scotland, after whose death the Castle was no longer inhabited.

 

Bathgate Golf Course, looking westwards to Bathgate

Bennie Museum, 9 - 11 Mansefield Street, Bathgate, EH48 4HU   01506 634944 

Inside the Bennie Museum

We would like to thank Hugh McKean, custodian, and William Millan, curator, for their interesting tour.

The Bathgate Beast, Westlothiana

Behind the Bennie Museum

Washday Delights!

 

Cairnpapple Hill  The highest point in West Lothian for wonderful views and an important prehistoric site. Historic Scotland Site Office at Cairnpapple: 01506 634622.  Open April - September.  Further info.

Our photos

 

The Scottish War Memorial

The Scottish Korean War Memorial,  situated at the south-western corner of Beecraigs Country Park at NS 988 728, was opened officially on 27 June 2000, marking the 50th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.  The wooden pagoda, situated in a garden landscaped with the yin and yang that appear on the Korean flag, houses the names of all the fallen British serviceman in regimental groupings.  The site, chosen by the Lothian and West of Scotland branch of the Korean Veterans' Association as a fitting place for contemplation, has been planted with 110 Korean pine trees within the yin and yang.  Each tree represents 10 men serving in British regiments who died in the Korean War.  On the site is a pathway, known as United Nations Avenue,  leading to a picnic area.  The path is planted with 21 trees representing each country involved in the UN.  In the entire garden are 1090 native birch trees, one for each of the British personnel who died as a result of the conflict.

 

Right: three of the panels of names inside the pagoda

 

Also at the Korean War Memorial site

Witch Craig Wall: a resting place for walkers, accessible from Beecraigs, Cairnpapple or the Korean War Memorial site, with magnificent views, reflecting historical and agricultural heritage, from Bass Rock in the east to Arran in the west.  It is also a wall of 43 stones representing the geological heritage of Central Scotland.

 
Kirkton Park, Edinburgh Road, Bathgate

opened by the Secretary of State for Scotland, Sir  John Gilmour on 1 July, 1927

The two-winged, three-storied, slated Kirkton mansion house used to stand in the eastern corner of the original Bathgate Public Park.  According to the late historian Robert Kerr, " A tablet stone removed from the site when the house was demolished in 1862, was built into the gable of an outhouse at Petershill Cottage - it said - 'Thos Shairp and Marion Dalmahoy 1599'."  It's believed the stone was from above the main entrance.  In 1862, the owner Capt HART ordered the building to be demolished and the building's material were dispersed according to the contractor's wishes.  It is believed that the mansion's fountain was bought by Edward MELDRUM and transported to the gardens of Dechmont Castle.  The Gothic archway over the gates below are thought to have belonged to the mansion house.  According to the Meldrum Primary School handbook, the School's badge design was based on 'the Dechmont House fountain which was taken to Dechmont House in 1878 from Kirkton House, Bathgate by Edward Meldrum. Edward Meldrum was a manufacturing chemist who, in association with William Binning and James ‘Paraffin’ Young in 1851, set up work to produce and refine oil from shale'

Near the front of this large park

Outdoor tarmac tennis courts at Kirkton Park, Bathgate:  open seasonal April - September, Mon-Fri 4.00 -9.00pm, Sat + Sun 1.00 - 5.00pm; 01506 631450

Kirkton Park Bowling Green: a public bowling green for club and individual use between April - September.  There are usually a couple of rinks available for individual use, but it's best to check beforehand in case the club is using the whole green; 01506 631450

Puir Wife's Brae Road, which winds around the back of the park, used to be a popular walking route for Bathgate folk (see Corepath WL26.  Here is a cycling version.

 

KIRKTON (Old Bathgate Parish Church graveyard) is situated across the road from Kirkton Park. The rectangular building that still remain here is roofless, but atmospheric, with door jambs thought to date from around 1200, and a 13C effigy of a priest.  It was given to Holyrood Abbey by Malcolm IV, but was abandoned in 1739 when the High Kirk was constructed in Main Street. (Photo below left)

In the churchyard are many names familiar to the Armadale area.  Here are a few examples: John Gentleman of Craigmarie; John Jeffrey and his wife, Janet Rankine, of Armadale; John Wilson of Wheatockbrae and his wife, Mary Briggs Arthur; Alex Frew died 1820 Jamaica; Thomas Frew died 1820 South America; Sandilands of Couston; J Mitchell of Standhill; and the Barbaughlaw Burial Ground, property of Alexander Dennistoun Esq.

Below right is the Covenanter's Stone, dedicated to James Davie, who was shot by dragoons at Blackdub (Netherhouses, Armadale) in 1673. His tombstone lies about nine metres from the south church wall.

 

Polkemmet Country Park, Whitburn: on the B7066 between Harthill and Whitburn, about 3 miles from Armadale (aerial photo), 68 hectares (169 acres) of nature trails, wildlife spotting and other environment-related activities led by Countryside Rangers; golf activities (9-hole golf course, 15-bay driving range,); 6-rink bowling green; picnic and barbeque areas (BBQ units bookable), children's play areas; designated walking routes along the River Almond valley. Open all year, April to September: 7.00am - 9.00pm; October to March: Monday - Friday: 10.00am - 6.00pm; Saturday and Sunday: 9.00am - 4.30pm.  The Park is located in the grounds of a former private estate owned by the Baillie family for over 300 years.

Ring 01501 743905 for further details and to book facilities.  Staff at Reception are very helpful and can give you a free leaflet about walks and trees in the Park as well as leaflets about West Lothian Council Countryside Ranger Service events and other parks in the area.

Great news!  The Scottish Owl Centre, formerly at Campbeltown, Argyll, has moved to Polkemmet walled garden.  We look forward to visiting this wonderful attraction! (updated April 2012)

Other attractions at the Park include: children's play areas, country walks, BBQ and picnic areas, 160 acres of wonderful grounds with mature trees, the only driving range in West Lothian, the pay and play 9-hole golf course and the bowling green. The green is on the site of the former 39-roomed Polkemmet mansion, home of the Baillie family who owned the estate from 1620 until 1957.

Map showing Park attractions; Park history (old photos & video clips)

Polkemmet Estate History

The Lanarkshire family of Baillie is descended from the Baillies of Jervistoune, cadets of the Baillies of Lamingtoune.  One suggestion is that the name comes from Balliol, and thereby is linked to Scottish King John Balliol (1292 - 1296). 

In 1620, the Baillie family bought land from Andrew Shaw, which became the Polkemmet Estate near Whitburn.  At the time, Whitburn stood at the crossroads for the old cattle drove roads between Scotland and England, and the main east-west route of Central Scotland.  By the 1700s, local breeders of black cattle and horses were making a healthy living from their sales to passing drovers and traders  Grazing was needed, which was one of the reasons for local field enclosures, such as the initial one on Baillie-owned Polkemmet Estate.

The Polkemmet lands and accompanying mineral wealth enhanced the Baillies' prosperity.  By 1883, the Baillie estate Assessment Roll valuation was five times greater than any other landowner in Whitburn parish.  During the 1800s, Polkemmet Mansion House was listed as containing 39 rooms with 11 domestic servants.  The Baillies played a significant part in local community affairs.  In particular, Sir William and Lady Baillie are remembered for the establishment of the Lady Baillie Sabbath School in Whitburn and the Baillie Institutes in Whitburn, Blackburn and Harthill, all predecessors of modern community centres. 

In the twentieth century, a bowling green, tennis courts and a golf course was established on the estate for the family's use, but local talented players were also invited to play by the Baillie family.  During the Second World War, the house was used, briefly, to house evacuee children, and an army camp was also established in the grounds.

I was looking up Polkemmet House on the web and came across your web page. I was evacuated there on 2 September 1939 along with my mother and other mothers and children from our street in Dalry Edinburgh. I believe we went by train from Haymarket Station. I have no memory of this time as I was 2 months short of my second birthday. However my mother spoke about it and how we all arrived at this large house with a huge hall with a marble floor. My mother had been carrying me all day so she put me down and I took a few steps and fell and hit my head on the floor. A doctor was called but didn't appear to do much and after a night when I cried all the time my mother along with some others went out for a walk and a lady in a cottage asked them to come in as the Prime Minister was about to speak. That is where she heard the famous announcement. As I was still upset and my head was swollen she put me in the pram and walked to my aunt's in Polmont. We then went back to Haymarket station and up to the Sick Kids where I was diagnosed with a fractured skull. They were not taking any children in unless absolutely necessary so I was sent home to be kept quiet until it healed. I don't know if we stayed the shortest time but my mother said that by the end of the week all her neighbours were back home!  Maureen Dalrymple  May 2014

In 1945, Princess Elizabeth opened the Trefoil School, linked to the Girl Guide Movement.  The School occupied the mansion house and served as a residential country school for physically handicapped children.  A member of staff said of the grounds, "When we turned off the dreary road on the day of our arrival, we entered a domain which, compared with the country around, might have been described ....'like fairyland'."

In 1947, Sir Adrian Baillie died and was buried in the family mausoleum in Polkemmet grounds.

In 1951, the Trefoil School moved to another location and the house became the Scottish Police College until its move to Tulliallan Castle, Kincardine, in 1960.  By then, the estate was owned by the National Coal Board. 

In the 1960s, the house was demolished, but, in 1978, the grounds were bought by West Lothian District Council with the help of a 75% grant from the Countryside Commission.  Restoration work began in the grounds to restore recreation facilities, and the Polkemmet Offices, formerly staff accommodation and mansion facilities, were developed to create the Park Centre.  Polkemmet Country Park was opened in June 1981 by Councillor Bert Gamble JP.

 

Beecraigs Country Park, Linlithgow: (370 hectares (1,000 acres);  wildlife haven high in the Bathgate Hills with views, walks, adventure playground, red deer, trout farm, angling, canoeing, archery, camping and caravanning - open all year) Included in the 2006 top ten of  favourite British picnic spots  01506 844516        See also  (2)

 

Almondell and Calderwood Country Park, near Broxburn / Mid Calder: (69 hectares (220 acres) of woodland, bounded by the River Almond with numerous crossings (Nasmyth Bridge, Union Canal Aqueduct, Mandela Bridge) A wide variety of Ranger-organised activities, visitor centre, aquarium, picnic areas - open all year)  01506 882254

 

Muiravonside Country Park: (170 acres formerly owned by the Stirlings of Falkirk, with Visitor Centre (open daily April - September, weekends October - March) Outdoor Education Centre, Newparks Farm rare breeds (open daily 9.00am - 4.00pm)

 

Why not blow those cobwebs away and visit Blawhorn Moss northwest of Blackridge, four miles from Armadale? Great views, bracing air and interesting features.  Watch the video clip of a blustery day! 94% of the UK's lowland bog habitat has disappeared since the nineteenth century, and so the Reserve is a particularly important area.  In November 2008, its significance was acknowledged when its status was extended to National Nature Reserve.

 

Hopetoun House, South Queensferry

Marquesses of Linlithgow family seat, built over 300 years ago. (Original furniture, paintings, 150 acres of woodland, views of the Forth and 2 bridges, rooftop viewing platform).  Open daily April - September

 

Torphichen , birthplace of Henry Bell builder of the paddle steamer Comet

Torphichen

Torphichen Preceptory:  The Preceptory is linked with the Knights Hospitaller of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.  Open April - September weekends and bank holidays. For more information about the village, see (3)

 

 Blackness Castle and (2) 01506 834807

Pier where visitors can moor their boats!  Lovely walks in the area.

 

Linlithgow Heritage Trails

Linlithgow Palace,  and (2), birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, situated in a beautiful lochside position, open all year

Linlithgow Canal Centre 

British Waterways Scotland

House of the Binns, Linlithgow  Dalyell family seat for 350 years gives stunning view of the Forth; open daily (except Fridays) May - Sept

Linlithgow Heritage Trust - Annet House

Linlithgow is always a popular place to visit, and particularly when the weather is as glorious as on this day in 2008 when we looked around Annet House and its gardens with its wonderful views over the town.

 

 

Linlithgow: 'birthplace', in 2222, of Star Trek character Montgomery ('Scotty') Scott played by James Doohan

A James Doonan Memorial Exhibition, designed by Andy Pepperell from Edinburgh Star Trek Association, has been open at the Annet House Museum since 3 August 2007, featuring personal and Star Trek related items

 

 

RIVER AVON HERITAGE TRAIL BENEATH TORPHICHEN BRIDGE - UPDATED 4 NOVEMBER 2011 (see Ordnance Survey Map 349 and Corepath WL6)

The damaged boardwalk has now been demolished. The new boardwalk will hopefully be installed in the summer/autumn 2012.

An alternative route is not being suggested, as it would require the use of busy roads. The trail can be rejoined at Muiravonside Country Park or from the Union Canal towpath near the aqueduct.

For further information contact the Access Officer on 01506 282421.

(Westfield Viaduct, which carried coal from local mines; Wallace's Cave; Torphichen Mill and cottage, birthplace of Henry Bell, pioneer of steam navigation; Carribber Bridge, world's first stress-laminated wooden bridge; the Muiravonside Country Park, 170 acres formerly owned by the Stirlings of Falkirk; the second longest British aqueduct; the Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal).

 
Almond Valley Heritage Trust, Livingston

01506 414957

A child-friendly museum (countryside and shale) that is open all year (farm animals, train rides, exploration, history).  Healthy food in the cafe too!

See also (2)

Howden Park Centre and nearby Howden Park (great for kites!)

 

The Centre

 (new £90 million shopping mall, linking Almondvale and Livingston Designer Outlet)

McArthurGlen Shopping Mall, Livingston

has been re-branded as

Livingston Designer Outlet

 

Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway (2); Bo'ness

Kinneil Estate, with its ponds and wonderful walks and woods; World Heritage Roman fortlet site; attractive, informative museum; Kinneil House; 12th century Kinneil church ruins; the cottage (shown below) where James Watt developed his ideas about steam power before he joined Matthew Boulton in Birmingham. If the weather is dry, this is a particularly interesting place to visit in the former county of West Lothian.  The small museum near the carpark is also interesting and well worth a visit!  Kinneil House with its wonderful wall paintings is only open a few times a year so check the website for open days.

 

James Watt's cottage

 

 

Callendar House

A short drive from Armadale to Falkirk takes you to Callendar House (the UK's nominated site for inclusion on UNESCO's World Heritage Site list).  It's a wonderful place to visit, no matter what the weather, because of its interesting exhibitions, temporary and permanent. We visited for the first time when scaffolding was in place at the front of the building, but the delights of the venue were ample reward for our visit. 

Within the surrounding 18th-century-landscaped parkland, there are woodland walks and picnic benches; seasonal facilities such as the par 3 golf course, go-carts and boating lake; refreshment kiosk; a Georgian garden behind the Teashop; and, last, but not least, the Antonine Wall (whose construction is described in the House).  Highly recommended!

Below are just a few photos from our enjoyable visit.  Lots to see and do outside, especially in warm weather!

The main entrance of Callendar House, which leads into the Reception area and gift shop.  Admittance is free.

A glimpse of the beautiful 1850s Library which houses Falkirk Council Archives service.

The recreated printer's shop with printer in action!  If you're interested in seeing the interpreters, check availability before you visit.

The impressive 1825 kitchen with its roaring fire and its 'cook' ready to tell tales of life below and above stairs!

A model of the Charlotte Dundas of 1803, the world's first practical steam ship, based on the reconstruction by G T Ball of London.

This painted ceiling is one of the many sights to delight the eye.

Apart from the gallery in the house, there is also The Park Gallery in the grounds next to The Teashop at the Stables.

The automaton is one of many objects that greet the visitor.

 

Falkirk Wheel and Falkirk 2 recently revised

Antonine Wall (Roughcastle Roman Fort)

 

Five Sisters Zoo near Polbeth, West Calder. Even when we visited one December, there was lots to see and do.

EDINBURGH GUIDE

Link to Edinburgh Zoo and attractions that kids would enjoy too.

GLASGOW GUIDE

Links to Glasgow Museums

If you're interested in visiting an island about two hours from Armadale, West Lothian, why not try the Isle of Bute?


Kite aerial photograph of Rothesay by Jeff Worrall

(click on image)
 

 

 

 

 

Home