A few photos of and notes about Central Scotland, which we’ve visited regularly, usually in connection with visits to Glasgow and Edinburgh. They may provide some ideas for day trips out from either city.
Ted visits the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway
Stirling is a small city which developed on a superb defensive site overlooking a key bridge over the River Forth. It was at one time capital of Scotland. The castle towers above the old town and a misty day when we last visited added to the atmosphere.
Just north of Stirling is the small town of Dunblane, now mainly a commuter town. It boasts a cathedral in a fine riverside setting, and an excellent pub, the Tappit Hen. Other villages in the area worth a brief stop are Doune and Callander.
The Falkirk Wheel
Falkirk, halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh, was an industrial town which now boasts two major tourist attractions, created recently as part of bringing the Scottish canal network back to life.
The Falkirk Wheel, opened in 2002, is a rotating boat lift, built to re-establish a link between the Forth and Clyde and Union Canals. it lifts boats 24 metres between the two canals and a boat trip on the Wheel is an experience.
Between Falkirk and Grangemouth, on the Forth and Clyde Canal, are the Kelpies, completed in 2013. They are two 30m high horse head sculptures, representing kelpies, which are shape-shifting water spirits.
Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway
This heritage steam railway, operated by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society, runs for five miles between the town of Bo’ness on the River Forth and Manuel Junction, where it meets the main Glasgow-Edinburgh line (and where these pictures were taken). The Society also runs the Museum of Scottish Railways at Bo’ness station, which we have yet to visit.
The Union Canal
The Union Canal links the Forth and Clyde Canal at Falkirk with Edinburgh. It is a contour canal, virtually without locks which winds round the countryside and crosses river valleys on tall aqueducts. This is the Avon Aqueduct over the River Avon, 250m long and 26m high, the second longest in the UK (after the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Wales). We’ve walked the stretch between Polmont and Linlithgow and the whole canal has a towpath.
Linlithgow was the county town of West Lothian. Linlithgow Palace, pictured, beside Linlithgow Loch was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots.
Access: Stirling, Dunblane, Falkirk and Linlithgow all have stations with frequent trains from Glasgow and Edinburgh. There are regular bus services throughout the area. The Falkirk Wheel, the Kelpies and Bo’ness can be reached by bus from Falkirk.
Links: For notes on the area to the north (around Perth) is here: Perth . A journey through the east of Scotland including Fife and the Falkirk Wheel is here Scotland The East Coast and Deeside . The best pubs in Glasgow and Edinburgh are described here: Pub Guide Edinburgh and Glasgow , and those elsewhere in Scotland are here: Good UK Pubs 2021 .
Wikipedia helped by providing a few facts and figures.
© Text and photos Copyright Steve Gillon 2021