Walk of the week: Bo’ness

The walk passes by Kinneil House
The walk passes by Kinneil House
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AT ODDS with the weather forecast, it was one of those black and white days on a visit to Bo’ness, which, as every schoolchild should know, is a shortened version of Borrowstounness, the nose of land jutting into the Forth.

A walk by the harbour hints at the town’s rich industrial past – Bo’ness in its heyday ranked the second largest port after Leith. Decline followed the collapse of the tobacco trade and completion of the Forth and Clyde canal. Continue west by the Forth towards the site of the former Kinneil Colliery, closed in 1983 and now the man-made Kinneil Nature Reserve, formed from excavated material from the colliery. Turn right for the circular anti-clockwise walk round the reserve, before returning to the railway line and a level crossing, still marked as a station on my 1997 map.

Go through the metal gates and turn right, parallel to the railway, then curve left towards a parking area. Go up Snab Lane, cross the main road, and go straight up the wooded lane on the other side to reach the A993. Cross to the west side of the road, then turn sharp right where signposted on the long straight driveway to Kinneil House.

Pass the museum (it tells the story of the Kinneil estate from Roman times to the present day) and continue by the stone pillars to the big house, once the country home of the dukes of Hamilton and saved from demolition in the 1930s by the rediscovery of its remarkable wall paintings. A side wall gateway leads to a bridge above a deep ravine. Follow the path on the far bank to go past the ruins of the 12th-century Kinneil church. An anticlockwise route round the open parkland, crossed by the Antonine Wall, leads to a Roman fortlet and two ponds. National Cycle Route 76 traverses the grounds.

The Factfile assumes retracing steps. However, on return to the A993, we turned right on Wotherspoon Drive, also signposted the cycle route, to enter a park. We followed higher roads before turning left down Providence Brae to reach the interesting old town centre. Look out for the Hippodrome, Scotland’s first purpose-built cinema, opened in 1912 and recently restored.

The route

Use the metal footbridge to cross the railway, then go round the east side of Bo’ness harbour to reach the excellent Bo’ness foreshore path which would give a new route for the motorised scooters of the Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers Group.

A walk by the harbour hints at the town’s rich industrial past – Bo’ness in its heyday ranked the second largest port after Leith. Decline followed the collapse of the tobacco trade and completion of the Forth and Clyde canal. Continue west by the Forth towards the site of the former Kinneil Colliery, closed in 1983 and now the man-made Kinneil Nature Reserve, formed from excavated material from the colliery. Turn right for the circular anti-clockwise walk round the reserve, before returning to the railway line and a level crossing, still marked as a station on my 1997 map.

Go through the metal gates and turn right, parallel to the railway, then curve left towards a parking area. Go up Snab Lane, cross the main road, and go straight up the wooded lane on the other side to reach the A993. Cross to the west side of the road, then turn sharp right where signposted on the long straight driveway to Kinneil House.

Pass the museum (it tells the story of the Kinneil estate from Roman times to the present day) and continue by the stone pillars to the big house, once the country home of the dukes of Hamilton and saved from demolition in the 1930s by the rediscovery of its remarkable wall paintings. A side wall gateway leads to a bridge above a deep ravine. Follow the path on the far bank to go past the ruins of the 12th-century Kinneil church. An anticlockwise route round the open parkland, crossed by the Antonine Wall, leads to a Roman fortlet and two ponds. National Cycle Route 76 traverses the grounds.

The Factfile assumes retracing steps. However, on return to the A993, we turned right on Wotherspoon Drive, also signposted the cycle route, to enter a park. We followed higher roads before turning left down Providence Brae to reach the interesting old town centre. Look out for the Hippodrome, Scotland’s first purpose-built cinema, opened in 1912 and recently restored.

Map: Ordnance Survey map 65, Falkirk & Linlithgow

Distance: 7 miles

Height: Negligible

Terrain: Good pathways

Start point: Bo’ness railway station car park, map ref 003817

Time: 3 hours

Nearest town: Bo’ness

Recommended refreshment spot: Bo’ness railway station coffee shop