West Lothian, fringed by the Bathgate Hills to the north and the Pentlands (our hills) to the south, sits astride 2 motorways, the M8 and M9 making large parts of Scotland easily accessible. But why spend long hours in the car travelling far, far away in search of breath-taking landscapes when within a few miles of Crosswoodhill you can explore rugged and sandy coastline, rolling and dramatic landscape, gasp in awe at beautiful buildings , unravel secrets of Scotland’s past, and relax in green and tranquil spaces ? There’s so much to captivate in the Lothians. History, heritage, romance, adventure, sporting and cultural opportunities -- all close at hand.
West Lothian is an area steeped in history with some outstanding architecture, historic palaces and stately homes, an award-winning museum, canal cruises, a 3,000 year old prehistoric burial chamber at Cairnpapple --- as well as a rich diversity of riverside woodlands, lovely country parks and a range of retail outlets to tempt all tastes.
Discover some of its historical and landscape secrets by visiting Almond Valley Heritage Centre, with its award-winning museum and discovery centre. This is a real “must” if you have children in your party. And if you are intrigued by those “Five Sisters”, the bings in the image, so familiar to the residents of West Calder, you’ll find answers there, too. Our guests regularly rate the Heritage Centre one of their best-value half-days out.
Take a day to explore Linlithgow, starting with the Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots in 1542. An imposing ruin, (pictured on the header of the Overview See & Do Page) it’s spectacular. Ask about the money-saving Historic Scotland Explorer Pass when you are there. Linlithgow is a town to explore on foot. Make the Linlithgow Story at Annet House an early port of call, and you’ll discover the town’s rich heritage and know what surprises to look out for. Pleasure boats run on the Union Canal here to the Avon Aqueduct, Scotland’s longest and highest, and beyond to the Union Canal. And if you are here in July and August there is Scottish dancing for all in Linlithgow Palace courtyard with great Scottish bands. You don’t have to be good at footwork to enjoy the music and participate. But a good eye is an advantage if you try your hand at laser clay shooting or play a round of golf at one of the numerous golf courses in the county. The nearest is Harburn just 4 miles from Crosswoodhill.
Just a few miles away from Linlithgow you can transport yourselves centuries back in time. Cairnpapple is an ancient ceremonial burial site pre-dating both Stonehenge and the Pyramids. A Historic Scotland Site, you can go inside and emerge to marvel at the splendid views from this high point in West Lothian. Just a few miles away is Beecraigs Country Park, just one of the many tranquil green open spaces in the area. Rated recently as one of the UK’s best picnic areas, this has a deer park, a trout farm, an adventure playground and caters for a wide range of leisure activities.
If stately homes are more your thing, (and you are getting an aerial preview of Hopetoun House in the header at the top of this page)... West Lothian has arguably the finest in Scotland. Check out the opening times for Hopetoun House, a Robert Adam architectural gem on the foreshore at South Queensferry. The splendid grounds afford a great view of another masterpiece, this time an engineering one: The Forth Road Bridges. From South Queensferry you can cruise on the Maid of the Forth, under the Forth Bridges to idyllic Inchcolm Island. Other stately homes to enjoy in this area are the House of the Binns and Dalmeny House (again check opening times), their sumptuous surroundings contrasting with the ruined splendour of gems like Linlithgow Palace.
Not too far from Linlithgow, and just outside of West Lothian, Blackness Castle is also worth a visit. It has a desolate beauty. Walk out onto its pier and look back and it somehow takes the form of a ship. A deliberate ploy when it was built, apparently to deter invaders sailing up the Firth of Forth. From Blackness it’s possible to walk the coastline all the way to South Queensferry, a pleasant couple of hours’ stroll, taking in some of the wildlife and some pretty stunning views of the Forth Bridges, too.
Pouring with rain? Bored teenagers? Indulge in a spot of under-cover “guilt-free shopping” in Livingston Designer Outlet where “all the labels you love are permanently reduced by up to 50%”. Immediately next door is The Centre, Scotland's leading retail destination with another 155 shops including top names. www.shopthecentre.co.uk Or if you have youngsters, make a splash at Xcite Leisure Pool, Livingston (remember to pack swimming gear!) or get into a different sort of gear go-karting at Extremekarting. Extremekarting.co.uk . And when you get home you’ll enjoy the peace and tranquillity of Crosswoodhill’s hillside setting on the outer fringes of West Lothian.
If you are in Linlithgow in the evening, you may want to treat yourself to a delicious meal in Livingstons which offers Scottish food. Closer to home and in West Calder (6 miles), is a Chinese restaurant which also offers excellent take-away cuisine. Mei hua Platform
Close to us, just outside West Calder, is the Five Sisters Zoo, www.fivesisterszoo.co.uk With birds, bears and reptiles from all over the world it's a great opportunity to get up close to over 100 species of animals. And if you can't get enough of birds, visit the Scottish Owl Centre near Whitburn www.scottishowlcentre.com and see owls from all over the world. Book into a flying display.
Other useful websites with information on West Lothian: www.visitwestlothian.co.uk and www.linlithgow.com