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Nature Reclaimed

Itinerary Overview

For a place with a rich industrial past, nature has already reclaimed many of the old industrial sites that once put the Falkirk area on the map. With an extensive canal network, a long coastline and home to one of Scotland’s main reservoirs, the area offers wildlife a sanctuary. Now, nature has made an impressive comeback and there are plenty of stunning places to visit.

Jump To Day:

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Day 1

An area of Modern Marvels and Eccentric Escapes

Stop 1 – Wildlife and Whimsy at Dunmore Pineapple

Start your day at the Dunmore Pineapple, an eccentric 18th-century summer house. Built for the 4th Earl of Dunmore, it takes its name from its quirky pineapple shape. Stroll through its walled garden and orchard, an oasis for wildlife. Enjoy a peaceful walk around the former curling pond, spotting great crested newts, palmate newts, and common frogs. Then explore the surrounding woodland paths, passing rolling farmland and the ruins of Dunmore Park House.

The Kelpies & Helix Park, Kelpies from above

Stop 2 – Woodland Wonders and Epic Sculptures at The Helix Park

Make The Helix Park your next stop, featuring scenic landscapes and the iconic Kelpies. Enjoy lush greenery, pathways, and ponds in this wildlife sanctuary. After a selfie with the Kelpies, explore the Woodland Trail along the River Carron. The recently planted woodlands at Cobblebrae and Abbotshaugh are home to art installations and aim to recreate a naturally regenerating forest. This blend of trees, hedgerows, grassland, and saltmarsh provides a habitat for species like Roe deer, foxes, buzzards, and kestrels.

Stop 3 – The Charlotte Dundas Heritage Trail

From the Kelpies, take The Charlotte Dundas Trail. Named after the pioneering steamship, it offers a scenic walk along the new Queen Elizabeth II Canal. Commemorating William Symington’s engineering feat in 1803, it showcases the vessel’s impact on maritime history. Informative plaques along the trail highlight its significance as you enjoy the views across the canal and the Forth. Whether you’re drawn to history or nature, this trail provides a captivating journey through the intersection of industrial innovation and natural beauty.

Stop 4 – Roses and Recreation at Zetland Park

Finish your day at Zetland Park, a restored Victorian park in the town of Grangemouth. Popular with local residents and visitors of all ages, it features a sensory garden as well as play areas and a riverside walk. Its award-winning Rose and Raingarden has been planted to maximise biodiversity while cleverly addresses flooding issues. It’s a perfect destination for wildlife and nature enthusiasts, offering a beautiful blend of practicality and natural beauty.

Day 2

Exploring Falkirk’s Waterways

Nightime shot of The Falkirk Wheel showing the ochil hills in the distance

Stop 1 – A Spin around the Falkirk Wheel

Your first stop of the day is to one of the area’s biggest attractions, the Falkirk Wheel. The world’s only rotating boat lift, it connects the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals. Witness its silent strength as it elevates boats 24 metres into the air. Then explore Rough Castle Community Woodland nearby or walk up the hill to enjoy panoramic views of the Wheel, Forth Valley, and the Ochil Hills.

Stop 2 – Following the Union Canal Path

At the top of the hill above the Falkirk Wheel, follow the canal side path through the colourfully lit Roughcastle Tunnel. At the other side of the tunnel, join the Union Canal path. Pass a pair of steep locks that act as the gateway to the canal for boats making their way to Linlithgow and Edinburgh. As you walk along the canal, look out for swans, kingfishers, otters, herons and other animals. Cross the canal at the stone bridge and follow the farm track up the hill towards Callendar Estate.

Stop 3 – A Natural Haven at Callendar Estate

Explore a nature lover’s paradise at Callendar Estate, a renowned spot for walking and cycling. Explore five heritage trails winding through lush woodlands, farmlands, and historically important sites and points of interest. Encounter wildlife like wild roe deer and rare pond med snails, unique to just seven locations in Scotland. Remember to refuel at The Café @ Canada Wood while soaking in views across the Forth Valley to the beautiful Ochil Hills.

Stop 4 – Swans and Stalactites at Falkirk Tunnel

Rejoin the Union Canal Path and follow the route towards Linlithgow and Edinburgh. Spot ducks, herons, and swans, with spring bringing tadpoles and frogs. Feel the chill as you approach Falkirk Tunnel. Completed in 1822, its Scotland’s longest canal tunnel at over 600 metres. Now brightly lit, look out for stalactites formed over two centuries. At the other side of the tunnel, look for the Laughin’ Greetin’ Bridge, featuring happy and miserable faces on opposite sides, reflecting the challenges of canal construction.

Trails and Treats at Callendar Estate

Stop 5 – From Canal to Countryside at Callendar Park

Leave the canal towpath and walk past Glen Village and down Glen Brae to Callendar Park and Woods. End the day exploring 170 acres of parkland, ornamental gardens and the banks of Callendar Lake all surrounded by historic woodland. Once a rich family’s estate, now it’s a popular local park and a haven for exotic and native trees and wildlife. Wander along old carriageways that served Callendar House, spotting squirrels, roe deer, and a variety of birds along the way in a beautiful natural retreat.

Day 3

Coastal discoveries along the Forth
Battle Scenes from muiravonside Country Park - Outlander

Stop 1 – Muiravonside Country Park’s Wild Wonders

Start your final day discovering Muiravonside Country Park, a 170-acre nature haven just 2 miles from Grangemouth. Explore nature trails, picnic spots, and Newparks Farm with its livestock including Highland cattle and Shetland ponies. Follow the River Avon Heritage Trail to uncover relics of past industry, including the spectacular Avon Aqueduct towering overhead. Enjoy panoramic views, a stunning river gorge, and diverse flora, with over 90 bird species recorded here. Relax at Bridge 49 café by the Union Canal after a busy morning of exploration.

Stop 2 – Nature’s Renaissance at Kinneil Estate

Your next stop takes you to the historic Kinneil House and Estate in Bo’ness. A haven for wildlife, spot owls in the woods, bats at dusk, and maybe a badger on an evening walk in the estate grounds. Guided tours highlight the estate’s flora and fauna, with events advertised at Kinneil Museum. Visit the West Pond to see swans with their cygnets, mallard ducks, coots, and elusive herons. Mini ponds and a wildflower area near the Roman fortlet, enhance biodiversity and create a spectacular display in spring.

Stop 3 – Coastal Habitats at Kinneil Nature Reserve

Kinneil Nature Reserve is a short walk from Kinneil Estate. Part of the Firth of Forth Special Protected Area, it’s a must for wildlife enthusiasts. A former coal mining site, it is now a stunning coastal parkland. Sitting on the banks of the Forth, nearby mudflats provide an internationally important breeding ground and overwintering habitat for seabirds and is a designated Special Protection Area. Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher or simply seeking a tranquil retreat, Kinneil Nature Reserve offers beautiful views and thriving wildlife.

Stop 4 – John Muir Way Bo’ness to Blackness

Carry on along the coast, taking the John Muir Way from Bo’ness to Blackness. This picturesque stretch winds through woodlands and fields, offering stunning views of the Firth of Forth. Approaching Blackness, you’ll encounter the majestic Blackness Castle, known as the “ship that never sailed” for its unique shape. This part of the trail blends coastal charm, rich history, and serene landscapes, making it an enchanting experience for hikers and nature lovers.

Aerial Shot from above Blackness Castle showing the grounds and dock

Stop 5 – Coastline and Castles at Blackness Foreshore

Finish your trip to the Falkirk area with a walk along the Blackness Foreshore. Nestled on Blackness Bay’s southern shore, the village of Blackness features a small harbour which was once the bustling port of the royal burgh of Linlithgow. From the beach, you can enjoy dramatic views of Blackness Castle, the formidable fortress that defended the upper reaches of the Forth. After a stroll along the bay taking in panoramic views over the Firth of Forth, end your trip at the Lobster Pot, which specialises in delicious fresh seafood dishes.

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