BLACKNESS, on the shore of the Firth of Forth is blessed with two lovely little beaches, both affording good views over the water, towards the Ochil Hills. With the village’s own dramatic castle providing a scenic backdrop, it can be a place you might wish to linger.
However, there is also the chance to enjoy a fine stroll along the shore towards Bo’ness, taking in the peace and tranquillity that comes with being next to water.
Before you leave, or on your return, it is well worth visiting the 15th century Blackness Castle. Not only does it have a long history, but it was also the place where Franco Zeffirelli made his 1990 version of Hamlet starring Mel Gibson and Glenn Close.
At the other end of the walk, in Bo’ness, you reach Carriden Brae and the Carriden Parish Church. While this is pleasant, it is just as interesting to look round the shell of a former church next door which dates back more than 200 years.
This is a great walk for a summer’s afternoon. Children may wish to stay on the beaches but others can take in breathtaking scenery along the Firth of Forth.
DISTANCE 5 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED Negligible (except short hill to Carriden Parish Church).
TIME 2 to 2∫ hours.
MAP OS Landranger 65.
PARK There are a number of parking places in the centre of Blackness.
IN SUMMARY Head west – away from the castle – to follow a track above the shore which gives access for the owners of a line of houses enjoying good views.
At the end of the track a narrow path continues in the same direction. At the other side of a fence to your left are fields, while the Firth of Forth remains to the right, with good views over the water. You can leave the path and walk along the shore if you wish, but the stony beach can become arduous after a while.
Work to repair coastal erosion and install a new path is under way on one section of the walk. After this, keep to the path above the shore line, going straight ahead at a signpost. After entering denser woodland, ignore a path going up to the left and stay closer to the shore. The path then veers close to the beach as you near Bo’ness.
At a fork, go right to stay closer to the water. This eventually leaves the Firth of Forth to go left, behind Carriden Boat Yard. You emerge at an access road – go right and reach a busier road, where you go left. Walk up a short way to see Carriden Parish Church and, further up the hill, the ruins of an older church.
If you don’t fancy this ecclesiastical diversion you can turn back earlier, when the path leaves the shore. Otherwise, after enjoying the churches, retrace your steps to the start.
REFRESH Unfortunately the pub in Blackness has been closed for a number of years so your best bet is to head for Linlithgow, where there is a wide range of eateries.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA The 15th century Blackness Castle is a great place to explore (www.historic-scotland.gov.uk).