Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Linlithgow, Bo'ness, Blackness &... home.

The West Lothian region has a large and varied number of interesting features, none more so than Linlithgow Palace.
It was with a little regret that was the last leg of my Scottish scenic tour. As I said in a previous post, I decided to use this return route home for added interest and hope you all have enjoyed the variety over the last 3 or 4 posts ..... before I use the lovely scenic A68 route home over the border into England. I am no stranger to Linlithgow as I use a nearby farm for Bed and breakfast when visiting relatives in the area.
No doubt on another occasion I will have opportunity to take more pictures of the town.
The history of Linlithgow Palace began as a 12th century manor and was replaced by a castle like structure two centuries later when it was an important military route between the castles of Edinburgh and Stirling. In the following century the castle was destroyed by fire and it was decided that a royal palace should be built. Successive King James' added to the structure including the adjacent St Michaels church. Two infamous people always rear their head in Scottish history, one was Mary Queen of Scots who was born here and the other was the date 1745 and Bonnie Prince Charlie who passed through the town as he took his warriors south. Unfortunately the Palace was destroyed the following year by the Duke of Cumberland.

The church steeple of St Michael is a bit unusual to say the least. The original structure was taken down in 1820 as it had become unsafe. The structure that you see today is aluminium and was constructed in 1964 making the skyline of Linlithgow unique. I remember the first time I photographed it from a moving train at sunset.... as a photography beginner, it came out ok.

It was 2pm by this point and had hoped to have my late lunch next to the waters edge. However things didn't go according to plan as this fellow was not going to give me much peace to enjoy it.... he brought all of his pals with him !!

The River Forth seemed a better idea for a bit of peace although I couldn't resist calling into the Bo'ness railway on the way to see if there was going to be some heritage railway action. Unfortunately the railway was open the previous day but closed today so just a moment to do a photographic study of what a heritage Scottish highland railway bridge looks like.

Then, all of a sudden a roar came from the distance and I turned around and couldn't believe it, the very locomotive I came to see was going coming out from the shed to take track workers out on a job.

This was a nostalgia moment for me as I have travelled many miles behind this engine out of Inverness down to Plockton and Kyle of Lochalsh when I did Scottish railrovers many years ago. This was the first time I had seen it in since that time and now preserved, has it's place in Scottish railway history. Long term readers to this blog will know that I do occasional charter day trips with North East railtours who hire and use SRPS (Scottish Railway Preservation Society) coaches and volunteers to cook food on the train. The SRPS do their own tours to raise funds for this site and this is the location where both the coaches and staff volunteers are based. Excessive fees from mainline railway companies have forced this organisation into thinking about possibly utilising their own locomotives. This particular example is one of a few in this class that the railway has acquired and have pencilled in for these future charter trips.

Enough of railways, I was getting hungry so it was on to Blackness where there was a castle built on a vantage point reaching out into the River Forth. As you've already had a history lesson today, I'll just say that it is 15th century and was once used as a prison...

... it was also the scene in more recent times of a film location for the productions of Hamlet, Ivanhoe, Doomsday and more familiar to me .. The Bruce.  Once when I was visiting relatives, I called in here for a look and entered into a film set full of catering vans and hundreds of extras. I remember the producer marching about 20 of the cast along the river bank for the next scene shoot whilst the extras helped themselves to more burgers !

The Castle that once kept prisoners in now has health and safety rules for keeping visitors in.

From the grounds, the famous Forth Bridge can be seen through the trees with a little added luxury... hey it's hardly Caribbean weather for that !

Finally, it was time for a very late lunch at 3pm where I could enjoy my last views of Scotland on this trip.

All that was left for me to do was to enjoy the scenic journey home on the A68 road !! .....


  1. A fitting end to a really interesting trip. Despite living in Biggar for a while I never got to see any of this apart from the oil refinery and the Forth Bridge. Lylithgow was, I thought, a rather unprepossessing place on the M9. Shame on me.
    Where to next?

  2. Wonderful shots! I enjoyed the tour -- especially the castle.

  3. Great capture, scene, atmo ...

  4. am nor sure which one to comments first.

    - love the 2nd pic framing.
    - the palaces, this one spells mystery
    - the beach and the "tiny" boats

    there. i've said it

  5. Looks like you had plenty of company on the A68! Your posts are making me want to go to Scotland for sure! Such beautiful photos.

    And the train? It looks like a relative of Thomas the Tank Engine, best friend to America's little boys. :-)

  6. Thank your for this interesting trip! Hugs from Luzia.

  7. Wonderful tour! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  8. Inspiring compositions. I love the framing and the patterns. Awesome images.

  9. re. my 'When the Frost is on the Punkin' poem: I've always loved regional dialects. I'm hoping they don't totally die out in either the U.S. or Britain. The M roads and the U.S. Interstate are great things, but they also promote The Great Homogenization.

  10. I would love this ride with you and your friends would be an adventure for me. Su pictures are excellent! Congratulations

  11. Thanks for the additional info on that comment. :-) None of this surprises me, well, except that I didn't know about the bookshop in York. Probably a good thing, or I would have held up the whole party for hours! My husband and I did get to Hay-on-Wye, but only for a short time. Next time we go back to Herefordshire, we're spending way more time in Hay-on-Wye in all those marvelous used bookstores!!

    My husband reads John Grisham. I love all the Dorothy L. Sayers mysteries, but haven't read her theology yet. I too have guidebooks for trips I want to take. :-) How can anyone call a house a home if it doesn't have books?? Word of warning: keep your doors locked. My cousin had a friend who wanted to clean out all her books too, thinking that no one should have as many books as she has. I figure the woman must be an alien!

    Oh. I also hear that there's another town full of used bookstores, one in west Yorkshire, northwest of Hawes. Good place to stop on the way to the Lake District.

  12. Adrian... Usually there is only one fleeting view of the palace from the M9 & it's not usually on the stop off list of places going north. I love going to Linlithgow to stay when seeing the relatives. Great views up the valley from the B&B farm bathroom window towards Wallace's monument and... Grangemouth Oil refinery ! The historic town centre although small & pleasant has an unfortunate 1960s building accommodation near the car park. shame.

    Vicki Lane... Thanks, pleased you enjoyed it. Hopefully I'll be back at some point before Easter and have some photographs of the town. This kind of relative visiting weekend takes a lot more organising than I would like though.

    Klaudia J... Thanks for your visit and comments.

    Lily Riani... Thanks, I always seem to fall into the trap of framing things, I couldn't resist with this one though. The palace looks even more mysterious from the other side. It's one of those buildings, more so than Edinburgh and Stirling castles, that you get a sense of history of real people who lived there when you stand beside it. Shame the tide was out for the boats, but the pictures seemed to work ok. You may have noticed on the "labels" that I like taking photos of boats !!

    Luzia... thanks for your comments. Always look forward to your work.

    Julia... thanks for the return visit, pleased you liked what you saw.

    Rizalenio... Thanks for your comments. I sometimes feel with this concept that I have set myself that I have only got time and the need to take the tourist photo. I'm trying to put a few more creative things in.

    Tossan... Travel seems to be what I do, I am just pleased to be able to share the experiences with everyone in a user friendly way.

    Cranberry morning... I tried to give a mix of scenery for this Scottish trip and I think it worked for the journey home from the mountains.
    I can count the occasions on one hand in a year when the class 37 train moment happens... it's more my railway history (1000s of miles around Scotland between 1984 and 1993) and this was the colour of that period.
    I love regional dialects and although I won't mention which ones I don't like here, Edinburgh, Northern Irish & North Yorkshire are in my top 5.
    Hay on Wye is an amazing place. I've only been once but it was filled with incident... I had to remove my trip advisor review as new owners took over the B&B with not many reviews at the time. The Murder and Mayhem shop was interesting to say the least !!
    I need to do some research on the northern town with the bookstores.

  13. That St. Michael's looks like the Eye of Sauron almost.

  14. I've liked very much the play of light in the interior photo that you called Blackness hallway, it's warmly.
    ...and goose, of course, I loved animals.


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