THE high winds that have wreaked havoc across Britain this winter will have a lasting impact. Branches and trees are lying across woodland paths, making them difficult to navigate.
This is apparent at Beecraigs Country Park, above Linlithgow, but you don’t have to avoid the area. Heed the warning signs and avoid walking near woods in extreme winds, but don’t be put off.
This walk was my New Year wake-up stroll, designed to blow away the cobwebs and get the legs pumping. Starting in the centre of Linlithgow and along the Union Canal, you are soon above the town amid rolling farmland. Then comes the country park. Although there are a lot of trees, the route avoids areas where they are densely grown, allowing views to open out. At the top of Cockleroy, you can gaze from the west of Scotland to the east.
DISTANCE 7 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 690ft.
TIME 3 to 4 hours.
MAP OS Landranger 65.
PARK Linlithgow train station is the start point where there is a car park. You can also park near the town’s canal basin, above the station.
IN SUMMARY Leave the station via platform two and cross the car park to reach a road, where you go right (uphill). Ignore the first road on the right but go down the second on the right to reach the towpath by Linlithgow’s canal basin.
Go right (west) along the towpath and follow the Union Canal under a stone bridge and along to a more modern one. Leave the canal at this point and join the road crossing the bridge – cross it and go left (uphill).After a few hundred yards you reach Donaldson’s school, on the right. Just after this recross the road but continue in the same direction, towards a large sign for Beecraigs Country Park. Continue on a footpath between a fence and a stone wall, with the road on the other side. The path leads up to another sign and turns left, going up the side of a tree plantation.
At a junction go right to stay on the well-surfaced path and stay on it until just before a road, where you go left, on a narrower path through predominantly beech trees. At a junction go right to drop down to the road, where you go right. After 20 yards go left, onto a track which passes through a gate. The track reaches a path, going right, which follows a stone wall on the edge of forestry with a view of Cockleroy ahead.
Go all the way to the bottom of the path and through a small gate on the left. Turn right, along a path going in the same direction, still on the edge of the trees. Follow this path as it turns left, going into the trees and up to a track by a playground, where you go right. Towards the end of the track drop left, to a car park and leave its entrance to cross a road.
Follow a track on the other side for about 20 yards and go right to reach an overflow car park. From here, take a path on the left, signed for Cockleroy. The path swings left as it nears a road, then goes right to reach a gate. Go through this, cross the road and follow a path straight ahead on the other side, again signed for Cockleroy.
The path leads up to a gate on the right, which you go through. Follow a grass path up to the top of Cockleroy.
Before retracing your steps to the start, enjoy the views which include the Firth of Forth, Pentlands, Ochils and even Arran on a very clear day.
REFRESH Linlithgow has a wide choice.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA Linlithgow Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, is the highlight in the area.