Walk of the week: Hopetoun House, West Lothian

Hopetoun House grounds. Picture: Nick Drainey

Hopetoun House grounds. Picture: Nick Drainey

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HOPETOUN House, standing above the Firth of Forth, is one of the grandest stately homes in Scotland.

Its grounds may be landscaped and created by man, but they make for a perfect family walk during the summer holidays with loads of space for children to safely run around and lots of pleasant spots for a picnic.

The route described gives a flavour of everything on offer but it is worth a visit to the ranger’s base before you set off.

DISTANCE 2 miles.

HEIGHT CLIMBED Negligible.

TIME 1 to 1.5 hours.

MAP OS Landranger 65.

PARK There is a car park next to the ticket kiosk (at the end of the main drive, on the left). To walk in the grounds it costs £4.25 for adults, £3.70 concessions, and £2.50 children and registered disabled. Family tickets are £11.50 and under fives are free.

IN SUMMARY Leave the ticket office and pass in front of the main house, turning left at the far side. After passing through a set of iron gates, follow the track to the left then go right to walk along the edge of a large, formal lawn. After about 50 yards there is a marker post with a number two on it. Behind this is the graveyard of the dogs of the Earls of Hopetoun.

After passing this, bear right and follow an arrow on a marker post into trees. Part of the grounds are closed off at the moment and you should go to the end of the path and turn right, on to a track (rather than walking above the North Deer Park).

After about 20 yards, leave the track and go left down a grass path with another arrow at the start of it. After about 50 yards there is a yew tree, on the right, which is thought to be more than 550 years old. Continue along the path through trees, following white arrows. At marker post number seven take a short detour, left, to reach the site of the 13th-century Abercorn Castle, which was destroyed in 1455. Go back to marker post seven and head straight on, towards the edge of the woodland.

At a track go left, following a white arrow by a yew hedge above the deer park. After a couple of hundred yards the track turns left inland. Ten yards or so further on you should go right, through a wooden gate.

Another 10 yards on, go left, following a sign for Hopes Walk. This path, also known as Ladies’ Walk, is where the women of the house would once promenade. The path goes past a metal gate in a wall on the left then bears right. Further on you emerge on the lawns of Hopetoun House.

Turn left then go right, along a track about 100 yards in front of a fountain. On the edge of woodland go left, along a grass path, following a sign for the Lime Avenue. On reaching a track, go left and follow the avenue of limes back to the car park.

Take note: while this route largely follows the “Sea Walk Trail”, you can link it with the “Spring Garden Trail” towards the end. Leaflets for these and special children’s trails are available from the ticket kiosk and the ranger’s base, which also has a good exhibition. (It is passed to the right of the main house.)

REFRESH There is a good tearoom at the house, in the grand surroundings of a former stable block.

WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA Looking around the stately home is the obvious thing. www.hopetoun.co.uk

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