Sunday, 6 December 2009
Leven Seat,Shotts Bing,Binny Craig,Broxburn Bing.
A central uplands grand tour.Map O.S. 65.Falkirk and West Lothian.
We were going to do a couple of nice hills down Peebles way today but neither of us fancied the look of the weather down that direction from the motorway.Blacker than a barrel of tar sitting in an unlit coal mine.
A plan B was called for,luckily for me I had such a plan up my bulky sleeve.(along with plans C ,D, E and F.) It pays to be prepared to be flexible these days.
Now back in the trusty Megane with me established as the dominant pack leader once again we slipped through early morning Carluke and up into the remote high plains country around Forth and Shotts where the sun was shining.
This is a big area of empty land that cover much of this map.Bleak, uncompromising and usually windswept but not without its own Siberian like frontier charm.(On a sunny day at least)
150 to 200 years ago this was the powerhouse of central Scotland as the number of old mines,shale oil bing's and abandoned stone quarries testify.
Trains ran daily to cities across the central belt with the raw materials needed to build and support the growth of Glasgow,Edinburgh and the other big urban developments.Now we hide our rubbish here.Towns like Armadale,Whitburn,Shotts and Forth grew up as well to house the tough workers in this remote landscape.
It`s even more remote and marginal now as a lot of the jobs and old industry are gone and those remaining are no longer so labour intensive.It`s always been a hard place to earn a living here although with cars and motorways people can commute to the service industrial parks and cities more easily.On the other hand this makes it also easy to avoid for the traveller.A pity.It has much to interest the visitor.
An easy trig tick surrounded by a pine forest right beside a landfill sight with great views and 10,000 gulls.A new experience for us.We are fast running out of old quarries though.This one was almost stuffed to the brim.The Pentlands ,Ochils and Fife hills could be seen but we were more interested in a sharp little man made object nearby.
Back at the car we made for this.
We stopped just above Eastfield and followed a good track in to climb the steep incline to the twin summits. Another great view and very different again. Many other little bings visible ,Shotts prison tower sticking up(I think) and the wind farm near Climpy in the distance.
A very different day out.There is good cycling here in this area on a network of quiet minor roads ,great views and a real wild west feel.Accommodation in the area is rather limited however.
May be better to bring your own bedding perhaps.
Wide choice of rooms though.
Next up was the roadside trig near Blairmuckhole then a hiccup and a missed trig due to a road closure at Blackridge,denying us Eastcraigs hill.
A quick detour through Armadale and lovely Torphichen saw us in Beecraigs country.Much softer green lush uplands with patchwork yellow squares of oilseed rape and corn in season.
We ended at Binny Craig and Alex was very impressed with this steep little volcanic plug sitting on a ridge crest like a sharks fin.
He was feeling pretty car sick by this time though due to twisty roads and map navigation duties.
Another summit in sunshine where I munched twin pork pies and a smoked apple wood slice of cheese while Alex looked pale and fashionably thin.
I didn`t tell him about our last port of call leaving the best until the end.When we drove down the road past Faucheldean however he guessed and groaned as our destination filled the windscreen ahead.
The Uluru (Ayers rock) of Scotland.The mighty and impressive Broxburn Bing. Shaleopolis central itself!The paraffin oil boom capital of the late 1800`s.Some of the shafts went down 3000 feet.Imagine that.Must be like a swiss cheese under this region.
I love this bing.Everytime I come here there is always something interesting to see. Today it was trail bikers roaring up the inclines to jump between the red humps in style.
The best views of the day opened up as we climbed to the flat tableland above.
You can spend a good few hours here exploring these bings or cycle through them from Ratho on the Union Canal. This is a very interesting day out as well.A different and enjoyable day of great variety.A trig, a bing, a trig, a bing.Can a day out get any better than that.
The Five Sisters bings at West Calder from Shotts bing.
There are no monuments on hilltops to the great and good in this area only gravestones and piles of hard won dirt.A lasting tribute to the men and thier families who helped build the cities and towns we lucky inhabitants take for granted today.Where else would you find such a mix of beauty and beast side by side.They are still doing it today with windfarms and landfills.We owe them our thanks now and in the future.Next time you zoom past this area on the motorway spare a thought for the true heart of Scotland.
We`re not the first hill folk to feel the need to climb these.Dave Hewitt of the Angry Corrie has been out on them and has published a very good article here....
Angry Corrie bing bagging article.
Even the BBC mention bing bagging ... :)
Couple of pics from me...
Bob on top of the bing at Broxburn looking over to the end of the Pentlands.Think it`s called Greendykes Bing.
Heading over the plateau to the Winchburgh end.....