Steeped in history and surrounded by beautiful countryside, West Lothian is Scotlandâ€™s secret gem. Positioned midway between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and served by major motorway networks and train services, West Lothian provides good access to all areas of Scotland.
An eclectic mix of new and old creates the landscape for this central part of Scotland. From traditional Scottish town centres to historical villages and a large, modern centre there is lots to see, do and learn about the area.
The thoroughly modern town of Livingston has the largest population with a thriving business community enjoying the benefits of excellent sports, recreational facilities and one of the countryâ€™s top shopping destinations.
Smaller, bustling towns include Bathgate and West Calder with High Streets featuring a variety of independent shops and cafes, superb local golf courses and Bathgate boasts its own theatre featuring a variety of performing arts.
Steeped in history are the older towns of Torphichen and Linlithgow who between them feature a 13thcentury church, remains of a palace and Loch. Surrounded by beautiful countryside they offer a variety of walks and the opportunity to soak in the outstanding scenery.
West Lothian has a wide range of leisure pursuits on offer for anyone in search of adventure or relaxation. For the active, there are dozens of golf courses in the area plus sailing at the Low Port Centre. This is also excellent walking territory, be it gentle saunters in the many green spaces or something more taxing, such as the Bathgate Hills where the views are worth the hike, and the Pentland Hills which offer more than 100km of signposted trails to explore.
The area's heritage is rich and diverse, and well worth exploring. In just a day you can take in historic attractions - prehistoric burial sites, palace ruins, castles and stately homes - that span hundreds, even thousands, of years.
Towns and Villages in West Lothian
Broxburn and Uphall
Broxburn and Uphall are both West Lothian towns situated on the Union Canal between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Broxburn (also known as 'the valley of badgers') and the nearby town of Uphall both offer a range of local attractions and amenities, including top quality butchers, cafÃ©s, restaurants and cosy Scottish pubs. The Union Canal stretches across the central belt of Scotland, cutting through Broxburn. It provides lots of outdoor activities for visitors, including walks, cycles
Whitburn, eight miles south-west of Livingston, was a mining town until the closure of its colliery in 1980s.
The settlement of Newbridge is just to west of Edinburgh Airport, offering great views of incoming aircraft and access to the M8 and M9.
Kirknewton is a residential settlement to the west of the Pentland Hills, 10 south-west of Edinburgh.
Fauldhouse is small town nine miles south-west of Livingston, on the western boundary of West Lothian.
The conservation village of Mid Calder lies on the River Calder, a mile south-east of Livingston in West Lothian.
Blackburn is a small industrial town in West Lothian. Originally a centre for cotton manufacturing, Blackburn, situated five miles west of Livingston, turned to coal mining in the mid-19th century.
Dechmont is a village situated two miles west of Uphall in West Lothian.
The village of Winchburgh is situated between Edinburgh and Linlithgow in West Lothian. Its growth was thanks to the opening of the Union Canal in the 19th century and the manufacture of shale oil. Production stopped in 1960, though the strange shale oil waste 'bings' remain a characteristic feature of the West Lothian landscape today.
Linlithgow is famous for its Palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. This wonderful 15th century ruin is perfectly positioned beside Linlithgow Loch. Mary Queen of Scots was born here in 1542, becoming queen six days later. After a fire in 1424, James I started construction of the present palace, but this took over 200 years to complete. Linlithgow Loch is a haunt for wildfowl, especially in winter. Boat trips on the Union Canal are another popular excursion.
Livingston is a 'New Town' west of Edinburgh. It is situated in the Almond Valley, 13 miles west of Edinburgh. Built in 1962, it was the fourth of several so-called 'New Towns', and further developed in the 1980s. At the heart of Scotland's 'Silicon Glen', hi-tech industry flourished and helped the growth of the town until the 1990s. Today a large retail centre proves popular with locals and visitors alike.
The village of West Calder is four miles south-east of Bathgate in West Lothian. It is a traditional Scottish village, set in the West Lothian countryside with buildings made from light grey stone. West Calder flourished during the oil boom of the 1860â€™s, James Young had set up the worldâ€™s first oil refinery in Bathgate to extract oil from â€œCannel coalâ€.
18 miles south-west of Edinburgh and Glasgow, Bathgate is West Lothian's second largest settlement. With a history dating back to the 17th century, the town owed its growth to farming, weaving and, more recently, to car production and engineering. Nowadays, this bustling little town is well served with shops and eateries of all kinds. It also boasts a thriving night-life with plenty of popular pubs and entertainment on tap.
East Calder is village two miles east of Livingston in West Lothian. Nearby Calder Wood is a pleasant country park with woods, river and scrubland popular with the local wildlife.
'Edinburgh', said the writer Robert Louis Stevenson, 'is what Paris ought to be'. Its magnificent architecture shifts from the lofty tenements and narrow closes of its medieval Old Town as they tumble down the spine of the Royal Mile, to the grace and geometric precision of the Georgian New Town. Above it all, in its towering splendour, stands the Castle. Every step is a revelation - an alleyway which reveals an ancient courtyard, or a wynd which opens up a new panorama. And yet within this sweeping elegance is a compact city, a bustling city, and above all a city which rewards every visitor.
Things to do and see in and around West Lothian
Linlithgow Canal Centre
Linlithgow Canal Centre is a VisitScotland 3-star attraction operated entirely by friendly, unpaid members of Linlithgow Union Canal Society (LUCS). The Canal museum is housed in a former canal stable and exhibits records, photographs and artefacts associated mainly with the Union Canal.The display covers the development of the British canal system and explains why and how the can was built, the water supply, the canal at work, important dates in its history and the wildlife to be found in and around the
The Five Sisters Zoo
The Five Sisters Zoo offers a wonderful opportunity to get up close to over 180 different species of animals, birds and reptiles from around the world. Thereâ€™s lion's, lemurs and lynx, bears, meerkats and monkeys, parrots and porcupines, bat eared foxes, bunnies, reindeers and raccoons to name but a few, all adding up to an exciting, educational and great value visit for all the family.
Hopetoun House is Scotland's finest stately home and is a place of outstanding natural beauty and has been home to the Hope family since 1699.Explore the historic ancestral home, the 150 acres of gardens surrounding the house, the magnificent architecture or relax in the licensed tearoom. Hopetoun will be a familiar sight for Outlander viewers as it was used as the home of the Duke of Sandringham. Explore the sumptuous rooms where the Duke enjoyed spending time.
The Hive Play and Party Centre
For the little ones: The Hive has a dedicated baby toddler area that you can explore with your child. They can discover new skills and develop their independence in a safe and secure environment, with physical obstacles to tackle and soft bricks to construct.
For older ones: Squeeze through the mouse hole climbing higher to the bee tube where you can give the grown-ups a cheeky wave, before whizzing down the buzzy slide. Swing on the dangling snakes on to the log stepping stones to take a ride on the sky glider. Tackle the giant balls and squish through giant rollers before taking the bridge to the secret hive.
Scotlandâ€™s Owl Centre
See Owls from all over the world and enjoy the daily all-weather flying displays and Prof Hootâ€™s Owl School. Also enjoy the Adventure Playground and Picnic area, all based in Polkemmet Country Park. An incredible selection of owls from all over the world and Daily all-weather flying displays in the display area