Author: John Davidson

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Friday, June 23rd, 2006 at 3:01 pm
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Lifestyle
Walks and Rides In Edinburgh and The Lothians

Walk – Calderwood To Almondell, Mid Calder

I enjoy a walk round Calderwood mainly because it feels so remote from the surrounding industry of Central Scotland. Most of what I am about to describe lies within half a kilometre – not much over ¼ mile – from housing and busy roads. Yet I watched a heron, dippers, coots and moorhens, various ducks on the Almond, all sorts of birds higher up the park. My round of Calderwood itself is about 5km (3 miles) but I like to combine it with an approach following the River Almond from the visitor centre at Almondell. Here is what I did one day in mid-March.
After parking, I walked in front of the visitor centre and up the west bank of the Almond. Shortly after passing under a lofty former railway viaduct, the path crosses a footbridge beside the weir where the canal feeder leaves the river. It comes eventually to the B7015 at Bridgend between Mid and East Calder.
Obviously, a circular walk can be joined at any point and can go either way. However, in this case I like the walk by the river. And I prefer to start the circuit of Calderwood from Bridgend, going anti-clockwise. The reason will become apparent later, when you are able to enjoy fine, open views from Oakbank.
Start the circuit from Bridgend on the west bank (by Gasworks Brae, at Midcalder). Almost immediately a footbridge crosses Muriestoun Water, where it flows into Linnhouse Water. The path rises sharply through some scrubby woodland, branching twice or thrice in the first kilometre/half mile. However, it is well trodden and always clear – ignore the righthand branches and stick with the main line. Quite soon you will be rewarded when the sound of Linnhouse Water on your left confirms that you are on the right track and the woodland begins to thin out a bit.
You will become aware of the noise of traffic to your right. The path comes close to the A71 leaving Lizzie Bryce’s roundabout and heading off for Edinburgh. For some distance you must parallel the road. There is a short, steep flight of steps and for about 300m you are almost on the roadside verge, until you come to the Oakbank car-park.
Leave the car-park again by a mown-grass path in the north-west corner, which leads to the grassy top of the old bing. At the top turn ±90° right to face almost due north and walk across the grassy top to another mown-grass path between young trees. This is where you will have the best views of the day. Pass to the left (west) of Oakbank Bowling Club and of the football pitch beside it, to head into the far left-hand of the open space, where you will find the path parallel to the river. After a steep flight of steps to Hoghill a broad gravel path (left) leads you back to the road, quite close to the bridge where you started.
If, like me, you enjoy the riverside walk through Almondell and have left a car at the north car-park, turn left as you come back to the B7015, then immediately right at the the bridge. Reward yourself with an ice-cream as you study the Kirkhill astronomical pillar, just in front of the visitor centre.
Calderwood was once a private estate belonging to the barons of Torphichen. The area has been left undeveloped by the current owners (West Lothian Council) to encourage wildlife. In the past, it has been undermined by oil shale activities at Oakbank, where the shale bings were landscaped in the 1980s. The Council are currently removing beech and sycamore trees to allow more space for native trees such as oak, ash and birch.
For information about guided walks in Almondell and Calderwood, telephone the ranger service on 01506 882254.

Click here for pdf file of walk with map

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