COCKLEROY – meaning the hat of the kings – is not a particularly big hill, in fact it is below 1,000ft but to my young daughter it is “the mountain”.
We can see the hill from our house, and so for us it has become a regular activity to walk up Cockleroy – me to look at views from Goat Fell, on Arran, to the southern Highlands and the Ochils, across the Firth of Forth; my daughter to try to spot home, school and the swimming pool.
So, off I went on a longer than usual route, taking in some of the highlights of the wonderful Beecraigs Country Park – it is not just forestry here; deciduous trees and little burns in the quieter areas allow for true escapism.
Now is a good time to enjoy Beecraigs as it’s perfect for a winter walk.
DISTANCE 7 and a half miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 610ft.
TIME 3 to 4 hours.
MAP OS Landranger 65.
PARKING From Linlithgow, follow brown signs to Beecraigs Country Park from the west end of the town’s High Street and go up Preston Road, which leads out of the town. At the top of the hill, turn left, then go right to reach the park visitor centre, which is on the left.
IN SUMMARY Leave the visitor centre car park at the far end via a path to the right, which leads through a deer farm. The path bends right and enters woodland in front of Beecraigs Loch, where you go right. At the end of the loch, after crossing a burn, go right to reach a road, which you cross to enter a car park. Keep left and cross a small bridge to the left to reach a track, which you cross. Go up a path, past a disused log cabin on the other side.
The path bears right further up and another path joins from the left. Just after this, go left to drop down and cross a burn before climbing a bank fairly steeply. At the top, take a small path on the left and continue to a metal railing above an old quarry. Take care here and go right.
Just before a large gate, go right to follow a small path running parallel to a road. At a track, go right and follow it all the way to an archery area and on to a junction, where you go left. Just before a large wooden gate, go left and follow a path parallel to a road. Go through a gate to reach the road and turn left to follow it uphill. At the top, go right, along a path by a stone wall.
The path rises a little before dropping down to reach a track, where you go right. Follow the track up and to the right to reach a junction, where you go left. At a junction, keep left, then turn left, back into woodland. At another junction, go right, then cross a grass track and follow duck boards to the bottom of a little bank. A path leads to the top, where you go left.
Keep right further along to cross over the bank and reach a track, where you go left. Cross a stile at the end of the track and turn right to follow a road for about 100 yards, before going left on to a path signed for Cockleroy. The path leads to a gate, on the right, which you go through and follow a grass path up to the top of Cockleroy, with its trig point and viewfinder.
Retrace your steps to the road, cross over and go through a gate to pick up a path. This goes left at first, then right to lead to a car park with a road beyond. Go right and follow the road for about 50 yards before going left at a metal gate.
A track leads past a playground, then through trees. Ignore turnings and follow the track to its end, at a road – on the other side is the visitor centre, where the walk started.
REFRESHMENTS There are a few snacks at the visitor centre but your best bet is Linlithgow High Street, where there is a wide choice.
WHILE IN THE AREA Linlithgow’s loch and Palace (www.historic-scotland.gov.uk) are top class places to explore.