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Tour West Lothian

Despite industrial development along the busy Forth, much of West Lothian 's coastal lands retain their sense of rural solitude and historic charm. Prehistoric remains, medieval strongholds and modern achievements give the area exceptional variety. To the south, away from Edinburgh's teeming streets, the gentle slopes of the Pentland and Moorfoot hills provide superb walking country.

Abercorn church dates partially from the 12th century, although its most interesting features are the private aisles created for the three major families of the area, the Dalyells, the Hamiltons, and later the Hopes. The Hope mausoleum, is located in the churchyard.

Almond Valley Heritage Centre
Museum in restored 18th-century water mill: story of Scottish shale oil; local history displays; and working farm with livestock.

Almondell and Calderwood Country Park
Two adjoining estates form park of woodlands, rhododendrons and azaleas beside River Almond..

Armadale is an old mining town and is also well known for its local public house "The Goth" and its famous leaning clock tower. Armadale.

Bathgate derives its name from Batket, meaning "house in the wood". Early signs of human activity in the area can be seen in the nearby Bathgate hills at Cairnpapple Hill, a historic burial site. Settlement at Bathgate itself dates from at least the 1100s. Bathgate castle was given to Marjorie Bruce in 1328 by her father Robert the Bruce, but was disused by the 1400s. Old Bathgate.

Painstakingly researched over the course of 11 years, Sibyl Cavanagh's "Cotton and Coal: The Making of Blackburn 1760-2005" is a comprehensive account of the development of a town that has played a part in the history of some of the industries most key to Scotland's development. From the sugar trade, to textile manufacture, to mining, each was once intrinsic to Blackburn's existence, and each was shed in turn, while Blackburn endured. Cavanagh chronicles each development in the town's history with absolute clarity and thoroughness. Blackburn: The Story of West Lothian's Cotton and Coal Town.

Grounds of 17th-century Malleny House famed for shrub roses and yews planted in 1603. 'Doocot' (dovecote) has 915 nesting boxes.

Beecraigs Country Park
Way marked forest of 700 acres round loch. Park centre has exhibition area and craft displays. Trout and deer farms nearby.

Set around broad main street. Greenhill Covenanters' House is rebuilt farmhouse with displays focusing on troubled 17th century. Gasworks museum tells history of Scotland's only surviving gasworks. Puppet theatre seating 100 people is Victorian theatre in miniature. Moat Park Heritage Centre records local geology and history. Gladstone Court Street Museum displays old shopfronts and interiors.

The Binns
Turreted mansion built 1612-30 by ruthless royalist Thomas 'Bluidy Tam' Dalyell on two 'binns' or hills. After the execution of Charles I, Dalyell refused to cut his hair until the monarchy was restored. Fine Scottish furniture.

Massive 15th century castle, known as Ship Castle from elon-gated shape, dominates seaside village. Charming path through woods to Hopetoun House.

Former port and coal-producing town, name contracted from Borrowstounness. Kinneil House has Biblical frescoes and estate history museum in stables. James Watt installed steam pump in cottage nearby in 1764. On the foreshore is a restored steam railway with veteran rolling stock. Birkhill fireclay mine can be visited.

Riverside village where author John Buchan spent holidays as child with farmer grandfather. Church restored as John Buchan centre with photographs and mementos. Broughton Place, designed by Sir Basil Spence in 1930s, contains art gallery.

The name derives from the Scots words Brock (Badger) and burn (stream). The Brox Burn flows through the town. Broxburn is famous for its association with the shale oil industry pioneered by James Young. Many shale spoil tips are still in evidence around Broxburn to this day. Old Broxburn and Uphall.

Road climbs to car park and then short walk to Iron Age fort with an underground refuge, passage opens into round chamber lit by windows above.

Gentle climb from Beecraigs country park to Iron Age fort on 912ft summit. All-round views include Arran, 66 miles away.

Craigmillar Castle
Extensive 14th-century ruins of favourite retreat of Mary, Queen of Scots. Gunport in tower shows early use of defence artillery.

White 17th-century cottages. Stone steps and alleys lead to anchorage on River Almond. Remains of Roman fort: town was supply depot for Antonine Wall. South is Lauriston Castle with 1590 tower house. Low-tide causeway to Cramond island. Bird sanctuary on Inchmickery

Crichton Castle
Imposing medieval ruins with 16th-century facade overlook Tyne Water. Castle has four kitchens and prison pit below tower.

Palace remodelled in 18th century stands at end of high street. Park has nature trails and woodland adventure playground. Old Dalkeith. Dalkeith Since the War.

Romanesque kirk has fine carving and sculpture. Tudor and Gothic-style Dalmeny House, 1 mile east, built 1817 by Earl of Rosebery, contains Old Masters, French furniture, porcelain, Goya tapestries and Louis XIV carpet.

Dawyck Botanic Garden
Superb arboretum contains rare mature trees, including the tall, columnar Dawyck beech with its upward-growing branches.

Forth Bridges
Two awe-inspiring bridges linking Edinburgh and Dunfermline were record-breakers when built. Rail bridge of 1890 has three 1,700ft spans; suspension road bridge of 1964 is 1 1/2 miles long.

Glentress Forest
Planted on hills of Tweedside, 10,000 acres of spruce, pine and larch. Way marked walks lead from Glentress village.

Hopetoun House
Classical-style mansion built 1699 and enlarged by William Adam. Silk wall coverings, paintings by Canaletto, Titian, Gainsborough. Rooftop observatory with views over Firth of Forth. Grounds include walled gardens, wood-land walks and deer park.

Small town where Leithen Water meets River Tweed. Robert Smail's Printing Works are reconstruction of Victorian press, including reconstructed water wheel and office containing many historic items.

Inveresk Lodge Garden
Created by National Trust for Scotland to show range of plants for small gardens. Conservatory and exotic birds collection.

This 12th-century church has a saddleback tower and fine carved doorway. Niddry Castle ruins 2 miles west was a refuge for Mary, Queen of Scots in 1568.

One of the historic attractions of Linlithgow is the ruin of Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. The Palace was built, starting in 1424 by James I of Scotland. It was destroyed by fire in 1746. Linlithgow was also the site of the battle of Linlithgow Bridge at the western edge of the town. Another attraction is St. Michael's Church to which a distinctive, "crown" steeple was added in 1964. Linlithgow lies on the Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal and the Linlithgow Union Canal Society run a Canal Museum and operate narrowboat tours from Manse Road basin. Old Linlithgow. Historic Linlithgow (Scottish Burgh Surveys).

Livingston is also the second largest settlement in the Lothians after Edinburgh. The original village dates back to 12th Century when a Flemish entrepreneur called De Leving was granted land in the area. He built a fortified tower which is long since gone and the settlement that grew up around it became known as Levingstoun and eventually Livingston.

Pumpherston is a small dormitory village in West Lothian, Scotland. Originally a small industrial village to the nearby shale mine and works.

The original St. Ninian's Kirk is believed to have been founded by that saint circa. 400AD.
Torphichen Preceptory.

Scottish Airfields in the Second World War The Lothians. This very well written and researched book deals with the 6 airfields in the Lothians of southern Scotland during the second World War. The importance of this area and the major air defences that were deployed was due not to the Forth Bridge, which Hitler wished to maintain as a means of communication after he had invaded,but the naval dockyards at Rosyth and in other areas of the Forth estuary. Although the area was bombed early in the war it escaped relatively lightly as it was at the extreme range of German bombers who had to operate without fighter cover. The 6 airfields detailed are Drem, East Fortune, Kirknewton, Lennoxlove, Macmerry and Turnhouse, now Edinburgh International airport. Scottish Airfields in the Second World War Vol 1 - The Lothians: Lothians v. 1 (Airfields Series).

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