“ Large country park in West Lothian, Scotland with caravan site, restaurant and wildlife. „
Beecraigs is a large country park near Linlithgow in West Lothian, Scotland, with a remarkably wide range of amenities on offer. We find there's always plenty to see and do there, whatever the season.
My wife, daughter and I have all been regular visitors for decades and we never tire of the varied walks through woodland, meadows, by ponds and lochs. A wide range of other outdoor activities is also available, with facilities for all ages, including:
* children's play area
* archery and climbing courses
* mountain biking
* barbecue sites
* camping/caravan site
* visitor centre with farm shop
The park is a great place to walk the dog, or just de-stress and enjoy a peaceful stroll in beautiful surroundings with varied views and wildlife in evidence. I think some of the vistas over the Forth Valley are particularly spectacular, e.g. from Cockleroy Hill.
Nothing stands still at Beecraigs, and the latest developments seem to be a major upgrade to the children's play area at Balvormie and the 'Go Ape' facility near the Loch. (See below). Highland cattle also arrived in 2010.
These are in addition to the existing deer herd attraction, fishery and sawmill.
Beecraigs Country Park is located close to Edinburgh in the Bathgate hills above the historic town of Linlithgow, where the nearest train station is to be found. By car, it's just a short drive up from the town and there are four car parks.
Full transport and access information is available on the Beecraigs website, with maps at: www.beecraigs.com/location.htm
'Nestled' in the Bathgate hills, it's sometimes hard to believe the park is only a few miles from major centres of population, feeling more 'highland' than 'lowland'. There's all manner of wildlife to observe, including badgers, waterfowl and birds of prey. We've seen and heard all kinds of things over the years.
The park's meadows and woodland provide great opportunities for walkers of all ages and fitness levels to experience the rich natural environment of this hillside area. We have certainly enjoyed taking our 'rescue dogs' for long walks at Beecraigs, but walking on one's own or in groups can be equally rewarding, just quietly taking in the suroundings.
The park is well managed, with constant maintenance and development work. Just keeping up with snowstorm damage to trees recently must be a full time job!
Every season in the park brings new experiences. It's always worth a visit, even in midwinter when the snowscapes can be quite dramatic. At other times we've seen (and heard) great flocks of wild geese on the loch.
The Park [visitor] Centre provides information and reservations services, plus farm and craft sales etc. There's a convenient car park with several accessible spaces provided.
The Ranger Service provided by West Lothian Council offers a wide range of services, including educational and promotional activities. For more information see links below.
~More about activities, informal and formal~~
According to their website...
'It's not in the dictionary, but if it was, Go Ape would be described as a 'high-wire forest adventure'.
That means we build giant obstacle courses up in the trees using ladders, walkways, bridges and tunnels made of wood, rope and super-strong wire, and top it all off with the country's best zip lines.'
See links below for more information and bookings. Further information about all other activities is available from the Park Centre. Full address and contact details are given below.
(UPDATE, 2012: 'Go Ape' has been an unfortunate victim of last winter's storms.)
We haven't eaten at the restaurant for some time so I may take the opportunity to revisit and review this separately in due course ... but meanwhile I can confirm that it enjoys a great setting, and it's a comfortable, attractive and interesting building.
Caravan & Campsite:
The site is well situated close to the restaurant and full details are available at: www.beecraigs.com/campsite/campsite.htm
In addition to the historic burgh of Linlithgow, with its palace, loch, golf courses etc., the Scottish Korean War Memorial is close at hand, and West Lothian Council also supports several other country parks. (See links below)
The only drawback to the park is that it can be very busy in summertime near the children's play area and barbecues; but you rarely need to venture far to avoid the crowds, and at other times of the year it's not a problem at all, particularly on weekdays in termtime.
Beecraigs is well worth a visit at any time of the year, whenever you're in the area. There's something for all the family here, whether you're looking to spend just a short time or a whole day in formal or informal outdoor pursuits - plus there's plenty more to see and do in the area.
The Park Centre
Beecraigs Country Park
West Lothian EH49 6PL
Tel: 01506 844516 / 844517 / 844518
Fax: 01506 846256
Opening times (taken from Beecraigs.com website):
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 09:00-17:00
Saturday & Sunday 09:00-17:00
Saturday & Sunday 10:00-16:00
* Beecraigs Country Park website : www.beecraigs.com
* West Lothian Country Parks : www.beecraigs.com/Country_Parks/index.htm
* Go Ape: www.goape.co.uk/days-out-in/west-lothian/beecraigs-country-park/the-course
* Linlithgow - a Great Visit! : www.linlithgow.com
* Scottish Korean War Memorial: http://www.scottish-places.info/features/featurefirst10318.html
[© SteveS001, 2011, 2012. A version of this original review is also available on the Ciao website - with photographs]