This is a section of the John Muir Way in the heart of the Central Belt with industry all around, but turned out to be one of the greenest, tranquil sections you could hope to find with a variety of scenery, engineering and history to keep us amused.
Although the section starts in Linlithgow it is actually at the uninspiring western side of the town and a kind-hearted Missus helped us avoid walking for a kilometre along a busy road without a pavement by dropping us off at the sewage works just over the M9. Here the real path starts with a nice gradual climb up an old right of way with vocal accompaniment from Whitethroats and Yellowhammers, to the top of the hill overlooking Bo'ness 1. It then descends through lovely Kinneil Wood and Kinneil House doing a decent job of avoiding Bo’ness itself until it reaches the side of the Firth of Forth – our companion for the rest of the day. A lot of effort has gone into improving the Bo’ness shore and so it was a pleasant wander past the Railway Museum, harbour and shipyards. All the while we have expansive views up the river towards Grangemouth and Longannet, and over to the Fife side.
The path follows a very new, well-built path 2 all the way round to Blackness and its impressive castle with our first proper view of the 2.4 bridges over the Forth at Queensferry. This is a nice spot for lunch looking down the Firth. The path then continues along in the lovely Wester Shore Wood before reaching the grounds of Hopetoun House. From the parkland with its herd of Fallow Deer we get glimpses of the house and it is very impressive even from a distance. The path then rejoins the road (with no pavement) that heads into Queensferry.
Queensferry is a tourist magnet given its position under the bridges. Unfortunately the original town planners in the 17th century hadn’t the foresight to create the High Street wide enough for the Chelsea tractors trying to navigate its cobbled streets. It’s a great place to buy coffee but not a pint of milk. Fortunately one of the wonders of the industrial age is just above you and despite it appearing in every Scottish calendar 3 it is still massively impressive. You can almost hear the design meeting: after the Tay Rail Bridge disaster we aren’t going to mess about – make this huge! When I discovered that the Missus had parked beside a Victorian post box you can imagine how pleased I was with the juxtaposition.
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