With a great mix of modern developments and historic, traditional towns, it’s easy to see why the Scottish shire of West Lothian has grown in popularity over the years.
It seems that no matter where you are in West Lothian, the green and pleasant Scottish countryside is but a stone’s throw away. There are three wonderful Country Parks: Almondell & Calderwood, Beecraigs, and Polkemmet, and a whole host of outdoor activities ranging from golf courses and horseback riding to a popular and much-loved skatepark.
As a traditional royal burgh, you’ll find history in abundance here. Linlithgow Palace, the Almond Valley Heritage Centre, and a number of museums and listed buildings remind you of a proud past. And the busy modern shopping malls and independently owned shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants point to a vibrant and thriving future.
So, if you’re ready to make the move to West Lothian, here are a few of our favourite places.
Location, Location, Location
If you’re driving, the main motorways of Scotland cross West Lothian, making it very easy to access. And if it’s a trip further afield you’re after, the country’s two major airports, Glasgow International and Edinburgh Airport, are both within driving distance (45 minutes and 20 minutes respectively).
Linlithgow, or ‘Lithgae’ in Scots, is West Lothian's county town. It lies to the north-east of West Lothian, close to the border with Stirlingshire, and it is around 20 miles west of Edinburgh and around 30 miles north-east of Glasgow.
Interestingly, the name Linlithgow comes from the Old British lynn llaith cau, which means ‘lake in the damp hollow’. But there’s nothing even remotely damp about this bustling Scottish town today.
Its historic High Street is home to a staggering number of pubs, independently owned shops, and quaint little cafes. The town has become increasingly popular with middle class families and commuters, thanks to its proximity to Scotland’s major cities, and its excellent schooling. Linlithgow Academy regularly appears close to the top of the school league tables in Scotland.
And there’s no shortage of things to see and do here throughout the year, from the Children’s Gala Day and the Linlithgow Folk Festival, to the Riding of the Marches and the Party at the Palace in the summer, and a wonderful pre-Christmas Victorian Street Fayre in December.
Located around 10 miles north-west of Edinburgh city centre, the town of South Queensferry (or ‘The Ferry’ to the locals) sits on the shore of the Firth of Forth, in between the Forth Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge.
The town derives its name from the ferry service established in the 11th century by Queen Margaret, which operated up until 1964, when the Road Bridge was opened.
A picturesque location, with traditional buildings, cobblestone streets, and beautiful views out across the water, it is also home to some peculiar traditions. Namely the Burry Man and the Loony Dook.
The first is over 300 years old and involves covering a local man from head-to-toe in sticky burrs, before two attendants guide him around the town, stopping off at local landmarks.
He is said to bring the town good luck if he is given whisky and money, and bad luck if the custom is discontinued. So you have been warned!
The second is a more recent tradition, where brave (or crazy) people, often in fancy dress, dive into the freezing cold waters of the Firth of Forth on New Year’s Day. It attracts visitors from across the globe and has become an official part of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations.
Back on dry land, the town has three primary schools and one secondary school, and a large selection of pubs, bars, and restaurants, many of which serve up delicious locally-sourced seafood.
Thinking of moving to West Lothian? Make sure Linlithgow and South Queensferry make your shortlist.
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