What to see and do in Kirknewton – a Gateway to the Pentlands

This weekend members of the Kirknewton community will be working together to give the village a ‘spring clean’.

Kirknewton (you can read more about it’s history at Kirknewton.org) is 10 miles from the centre of Edinburgh and 39 miles from the centre of Glasgow.  Blink, and you’ll miss it.  Take another look and you’ll discover why, as part of their community development plan , they aim to become one of the Gateways to the Pentlands.

Hilly Cow Wigwams is a small wigwam site, due to open in May on Leyden Farm. As in most of Kirknewton they offer all the beautiful views of the Forth Valley and the Pentland Hills yet are close to Edinburgh and Livingston. This new venture is perfect for families.  Hilly Cow Wigwams can offer all the sights of the farm, walks and cyclist routes but is close enough to enjoy all the attractions of Edinburgh and the Lothian’s.

The Wigwams aren’t the only unique accommodation you or friends can stay in.  Highfield House is a traditional Scottish Manse dating from 1730.  Drovers Cottage is a charming holiday cottage dates back to the 15th century. Dalmahoy, a Marriott Hotel & Country Club with its breathtaking scenery, Baronial Manor, incredible sunsets and views of Edinburgh Castle  combines tradition with comfort.  More modern accommodation can be found at A Room In The Country.

Kirknewton offers a peaceful break whether it be for walking, fishing (www.harperrigfisheries.com and  www.selmmuirfishery.co.uk), shooting, pony trekking (Kirknewton Riding and Trekking Centre on 07702218360), cycling, golfing (The Marriott Dalmahoy Country Club and Ratho Golf Club are close by), or a touring holiday. The village can be accessed by bus, train or by plane (it is only 10 to 15 minutes drive to Edinburgh Airport).

Inside the village there is the base for Kirknewton Pottery and Potter Around , a ceramic painting business and craft studio.  Founded in 2010 Potter Around is a magical studio where anyone, whatever their skill, can come to be creative, have fun and relax.  Close to Potter Around you can also see the newly opened allotments, where members of the community grow their own local produce.

Jupiter Artland, just outside Kirknewton, is a contemporary sculpture garden in the grounds of Bonnington House.  Works by many of today’s leading artists, sculptors and land artists have been commissioned and then constructed in situ.

The relationship of each artwork with its specific topographical location is a crucial feature of the artland, that is, art within the landscape.

The garden is a garden of discovery – an earthwork here, a copse of cradled rocks there, the entrance to a fathomless burrow right before your feet. They provide a map but no set routes. There are pathways, in places, but no path. There is also a café, that the centre of Kirknewton lacks at present. Come and discover, contemplate and delight.

£100,000 has been spent on upgrading the Kirknewton Park over the last two years and there is a small community woodland that is hopefully going to be the start of a multi path route for walkers and cyclists from the village to Selm Muir woodland.  Selm Muir Wood is a beautiful woodland with lots of wildlife to enjoy.

Mature Scots pine woods surround the younger spruce areas. Rowan, birch and willow are scattered throughout and an old beech hedge hints at the age of the wood.

Parts of the wood are known to date from at least 1860 which is why there is such a rich flora and fauna.

There are no formal footpaths in Selm Muir wood. There are level sections of forest road and some informal tracks through the wood. As the paths have not been formalised they are rough, uneven and there are open ditches.

The Pentland Hills Regional Park is a living, working landscape, which offers great opportunities to experience and enjoy the outdoors. Sculpted by glaciers and water, then shaped by people’s interactions over thousands of years, the Pentland Hills are a special place for everyone.  Cycling, horse riding and walking maps are available for this area.

Part of the Pentland Hills Regional Park is Harperrig Reservoir, which is shortly to be designated a Local Nature Reserve recognising and providing protection to the unique and wild qualities of the areas which plays home to an abundance of flora and fauna.  The reservoir is 200m from Drovers Cottage and 5 miles from the Kirknewton Village centre.  The Drovers Cottage website offers a great set of walking maps to guide you for walks around this area.

A number of people also walk and cycle along the Route 75 and into Almondell and Calderwood at East Calder.  You can download a map of the route from Broxburn to Bathgate through Kirknewton here 

If sports and activities are your thing then Kirknewton offers it in abundance.  Hatton (www.hattonsportsclub.com) is a tennis and squash club founded in 1937 and so this year (2012) celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Morton Clay Targets is a custom built clay pigeon shooting ground, set in the Dalmahoy Estate .  MadMax Adventures is also set in the stunning parkland.  MadMax Adventures is Scotland’s leading activity centre with a 4×4 off road track, archery range, highland games and Quads.  They mainly attract corporate companies  but their ‘Public Open Days’ allow individuals, couples or small groups of seven or less to book an activity session at short notice up to 24 hours in advance for scheduled dates normally at the weekend.  Check out their website for more details at www.madmaxadventures.com, including details of the Kirknewton Stables which has a reputation has a fantastic reputation for wedding receptions and conferences.

Around Kirknewton there are three (count them) Paintballing Centres – Skirmish, A1 and Ape. If Xtreme Karting is your thing there is a track near Newbridge, not far from Kirknewton.  The Edinburgh International Climbing Centre is also only a couple of minutes drive away.  In just one day, you can experience the ultimate adrenaline rush of their Aerial Assault, take on one of their mighty walls in the arena or suspend down the front of their windows like Spiderman. If you have never climbed before they can even tailor-make an introductory course to meet your needs.

And if you are not content with just that try out their spa, children’s soft play area and café.

Other unique places to eat around Kirknewton include the Bridge Inn in Ratho which also forms part of the Edinburgh Union Canal.  Their two historic barges sail regularly, for anyone wanting to enjoy being served lunch, tea or dinner aboard whilst watching the world float peacefully by. There is also the Bistro and maybe a show at the Howden Park Arts Centre . For that special occasion you can eat at the Norton House Hotel or the Marriot Dalmahoy (who are opening a new restaurant in May).  There are a number of restaurants in the Centre at Livingston if you want to add a quick shop to your holiday break.  Or you can simply enjoy take away fish and chips from Marmaris in the village followed by a pint in the Kirknewton Inn.  For other places to eat and see across West Lothian check out the Visit West Lothian website for more details.

For more details about Kirknewton and to get the best out of your visit go to their website at www.kirknewton.org, check out the latest local services and unique crafts at http://www.kirknewton.org/business_directory, follow them on facebook, twitter (KirknewtonEH27) or their wordpress blog.  Throughout the year you will find details of all the events in the village that include holiday events for kids, the Spring Fair, the Gala, Apple Day, Cycling and food events and the Christmas Festival from the beginning of December.

As we said, there is a lot more than meets the eye to Kirknewton.  No doubt over the coming years it will try even harder to earn its place as a Gateway to the Pentlands, but it seems to be off to a good start.  You never know, it may even get a great place to eat all of its very own!


Kirknewton get by with a little help from our friends…

Thanks to everyone who recently attended the Kirknewton Community Development Trust Annual General Meeting.  Several people also put themselves forward as Directors of the Trust and discussions are currently taking place on how to utilise the very skilled and talented people who put themselves forward.

Thanks to all 355 of you who participated in the recent Fauch Hill Wind Farm community survey.  The findings of the Fauch Hill Wind Farm Community Consultation was given by IBP Strategy and Research and an update on discussions with the developers EFRG on community benefit and investment. The full report from the survey can be read here

The Kirknewton Community Development Plan was presented at the AGM as well as work of the Trust over the last twelve months, including the building of the Resource Centre on the Old Gospel Hall site and our proposals to the Big Lottery. The positive reaction from the collected audience gave comfort that the objectives of the Trust for community benefit are being met.  Since the AGM the lottery has also awarded us a Development Grant to take forward our application for additional funds to support the development plan work, which is good news.

Further to the ‘Give It A Go’ meeting and article in last month’s Konect magazine the Pilates Group (Friday morning, 9.15am, Church Hall) and the Kirknewton Stompers (Walking Group, Wednesday night, 7.30pm, outside park) continue. A new outside fitness class has also started on Saturdays at 8am in the park and the Kirknewton Runners first outing will be on Monday 16th April at 7.30pm in Kirknewton Park.

Initial meetings about a Youth Group are scheduled for April and other volunteers have indicated they are willing to take the lead on a baking group, book club and choir.

Those who showed an interest in a ‘Tidy Up Kirknewton’ group plan to take part in the ‘Keep Scotland Beautiful’ programme. The community come out and with support from the local council clean up litter in a ‘spring clean’. Saturday 28th April at 9am for a 9.30am start has been chosen for this and further details will be made available on the facebook group, to community groups and through the primary school and church.  Check here for the facebook invite.

Despite the recent snowy weather  it is hoped bulbs planted by volunteers in Autumn will flower in the park soon.  The first 33 plots of the Kirknewton Allotments have also opened and people are busy digging away and preparing the soil for planting.  If you are interested in a plot then contact catherinebrown75@yahoo.com as some are still available.

After discussions with a number of kids in the village volunteer local artist Ross Blair has presented his initial ideas for the youth art project on the hut in the park. Ross did the mural on the side of the school nursery and the designs for the hut are fantastic (they can be seen here) and will be a big improvement. This project is supported by the Park Action Group and West Lothian Council.

Volunteer Duncan McCool has taken the lead on the cycling / walking multipath at Selm Muir Wood and potential paths leading to the area from the village. The Multi Path Development Group are about to present to you a starting point for the wood paths and routes from the village (that will have to be agreed by landowners). The group are looking for further ideas and feedback on the initial proposals that can be found on the Kirknewton website here and those will be taken (along with some more willing volunteers hopefully) on a walk round the route in May. This information can then be planned with the Forestry Commission, for further consultation on proposed routes, for this true community led initiative.

A continued big thank you to everyone who have taken time to express their views or have taken these projects forward for the benefit of those living and working in Kirknewton.  The Trust hope momentum continues and, with everyone working together, things will remain healthy for the AGM next year!