Walk of the week: Beecraigs and Witchcraig, West Lothian
FOR some, a good walk is all about getting as far away as possible from everything, but exploring your own backyard can be enjoyable too. There's less of a journey to get there, for a start, and it can introduce you to places you never knew about right on your doorstep.
So, for the first walk of 2009, I've decided to stay close to my home. I'm lucky enough to live right next to Beecraigs Country Park, which offers a wide range of routes, from easy strolls to longer circuits.
This route gives views to the Pentland hills, Arthur's Seat and the rolling countryside of West Lothian. The second part of it leaves the park and crosses privately owned ground to the top of Witchcraig, with views across the Forth to the Ochils and Trossachs.
A refuge stone, marked by a Cross of Lorraine in a wall next to a stone shelter on Witchcraig, marks an old boundary where those on the run could seek refuge. A detour can be made down to the Korean war memorial by going straight on instead of turning right just below the top. You finish on top of Cockleroy – meaning 'hat of the kings' – which offers great views down to Linlithgow's loch and palace.
The route may sound complicated but it's easy to follow on the ground. Wear stout boots as the path can be muddy underfoot.
Distance: 5 miles.
Height climbed: 590ft.
Time: 21/2 to 3 hours.
Map: OS Landranger 65.
Park: From the west end of Linlithgow High Street, turn down Preston Road (following signs for Beecraigs) to drive out of the town. After about a mile and a half, ignore another sign for the country park that points down a road to the left. A couple of hundred yards further on, turn left to reach Balvormie car park – one of several at Beecraigs.
In summary: Cross the road you drove in on and follow a path beyond a gate on the other side. Before you reach some toilets, go left to drop down to a barbecue area. Walk beyond this and along a path across a meadow, going diagonally to the right.
On reaching a junction of tracks, go straight on, along a track through a felled plantation. Go left at another track, in front of an information board, and after about 50 yards turn right, off the track and on to a muddy grass path going up into the trees. On reaching an area of beech trees, look for a wall and go left, following it down to a gate and then a minor road.
Turn right, on to the road, and after about 20 yards, at the start of a driveway on the right, cross a stile to join a path that goes down to the right. After bearing left and dropping down, the path rises up and veers to the right to reach a stile. Cross this. At a fork, go left to reach another stile. After crossing it, go left, steeply uphill, to reach a stone shelter on the top of Witchcraig.
Go right at the shelter and drop down to a path. Turn off this, to the right, at a signpost before a stile. Go right again at a fork, drop further down to cross a wider path and then a stile. A path leads round to a gate. Go through this and bear right to follow a signpost for Balvormie, along a track.
When the track turns right, go left along a narrow, twisting path through gorse and mixed woodland. On reaching some very boggy ground, look for a small path on the other side – this goes right for a few yards to reach another path, where you go left.
Immediately before a gate on to a road, go right, following a narrow path through trees. Cross another path and continue by the road, following a sign for Cockleroy. At a fork, go left then up a bank and down to a stile. Cross this and the road on the other side. Slightly to the right, go over a ditch and follow a path into the trees, going left at a another path.
At the top of a steep bank, go right at a fork then through a wooden kissing gate. An obvious path leads up to the top of Cockleroy.
On the way back, return to the kissing gate and go through it, turning left on the other side. Pass a car park on your left, cross a road and follow a path into trees on the other side. After a few yards, go right to drop down to some duck boards. Cross these and go up to meet another path, where you turn left. Carry straight on to walk out of the trees and reach the start of the walk.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North east
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Wind direction: North west