Although the Highland may be the most beautiful of areas for visitors to spend time when they come to Scotland, the reality is that the vast majority never make it out of the two main cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh. This is understandable given the number of attractions and events they both have. But if you’re planning a trip to either of these wonderful cities I’m going to suggest that you take a day or an afternoon out of your schedule and visit Linlithgow.
The Royal Burgh of Linlithgow is easy to get to as it sits on the main railway line between Edinburgh and Glasgow. A small town, it has its unfortunate share of ugly town-centre buildings but overwhelmingly it is full of character and interest and there are many examples of what it would have looked like years ago, not least of which is Linlithgow Palace.
The palace sits on the edge of Linlithgow Loch and commands great views over the town and the nearby countryside. Managed by Historic Scotland, it is most famous as the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Construction was started in 1424 after a fire had destroyed Linlithgow Castle and even today, roofless and in some areas destroyed, it still takes the breath of many visitors. The locals (who call themselves Black Bitches after a local canine legend) are justifiably proud of the palace and the adjacent church.
As well as history, the town which has a population of around 14,000 is welcoming with a number of local cafes and tea rooms available to keep visitors refreshed and fed. Amongst my favourites are Taste, and Brodies, both of which are on the High Street. A recent addition is the ice cream shop, Kelly’s which has a great selection of flavours.
If you like walking then there are three great options, none of which are too taxing. The loch is an easy 2.5 mile walk and takes you past the palace.
The Union Canal passes through Linlithgow and this is a walk I have done and can recommend. I took the train from Edinburgh to Linlithgow then walked back along the canal. It took me and my dog, Jessie, 4 hours and on a fine day you can really appreciate the beauty of West Lothian. The walk stops through Ratho, where the Bridge Inn serves a nice pint. Ultimately you’ll end up at Fountainbridge near the city centre.
The other option for exploring, particularly if you enjoy woodland walks is Beecraigs Country Park which offers a lot of variety, and at the end of the summer is a great place for wild berry picking. This is dog-friendly and if you go there in the summer there is an ice cream van next to the very large childrens’ play area.
So, although the cities, Edinburgh in particular are very geared for tourists, if you want to get a good picture of everyday life in Scotland then Lithgae (as the locals call it) is a great stop with plenty of history to keep your interested in.
You can find out more at the Visit Scotland website.
Interestingly enough Linlithgow’s most famous son has not been born yet. Scotty from the original Star Trek series is, according to the script, due to be born there in the 23rd century. Not many towns have such a claim to fame as that.