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.
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!