Thursday 1 February 2024

Scotland By Rail - Caldercruix - Hillend Reservoir

A full there and back railway day from Burntisland to Glasgow via Edinburgh, Bathgate and Caldercruix. 

I had to be in both Bathgate and Glasgow and hoped I had an hour or two of spare time in between. I wanted to explore somewhere new to me so studied the Ordance Survey, looking at every station stop between Bathgate and Glasgow. There are a lot! I especially look for nearby green spaces. Caldercruix sat on the National Cycle Network, Route 75 and was just to the west of an enticing large area of water - Hillend Reservoir.

I started in Burntisland as usual. Warm low cloud colours reflected on damp mossy wall as I looked down on the roof of my studio at Burntisland railway station. My studio is open by appointment - just get in touch - and on various Open Studio days. Looking across the docks, across the Forth, to Arthurs Seat and Edinburgh visible on the horizon.

I looked for seals on the rocks between Burntisland and Aberdour. A well known sight to those who use this railway line often. Today there were none but I spied a lovely little huddle of redshanks standing tight against the wind and rain. I jotted down what I could remember of them in my sketchbook.

Bathgate. View from the station bridge:

Back on the train, I love the view along this moorland stretch, National Cycle Network Route 75 running alongside. There must be a lot of wildlife to spot out there, I hope to return with my bike. 

A kestrel was flying over the moor, it's the almost invisible speck in this photo:

Cyclepath & footpath runs alongside. So tempting.

Hillend Reservoir, east end. From the train I saw cormorant, goosander, great crested grebe. My Bathgate appointment had run late so I had only an hour ahead of me for my Caldercruix walk. I wished I had three.

In Caldercruix

Walk east along Station Road to pass the Village Inn then the village shop. Cross the B825 to this fence decorated by Caldercruix Community Council. Countryside starts here!

Lovely Sustrans Route 75 sign. These signs bring back so many memories from so many family childhood walks.

Now just explore! The reservoir is close. 

I decided to take note of all wildlife I saw and heard while there and to record it afterwards on the British Trust for Ornithology BirdTrack app afterwards - citizen science contributing to conservation knowledge and policy. And it's fun!

North Calder Water:

Approaching the reservoir:

Very impressive after so much rain.

Reaching the reservoir, unfortunately only ten spare minutes:

I got out my binoculars, scanned all round, spotted a white blob - a dipper's chest! I got my stuff out and made this speedy watercolour:

Then a fast walk back to station, wishing I had time to stop and paint this beautiful tree group too:

And to cycle to some of these places:


The day finished with a late afternoon - early evening few hours in Glasgow. Delivering a couple of newly finished paintings to a gallery and enjoying half an hour with my book in a cosy bookshop.

Glasgow Queen Street station, then home: 


Caldercruix is very easy to reach on the Bathgate line between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Trains are frequent although not all stop at Caldercruix. 

Check before your journey at

Thank you for reading my Scotland By Rail blog. Spread the word and let me know about your own favourite railway days out.

Leo du Feu
ScotRail Community Rail Champion
January 2024

#ScotlandByRail on facebook, instagram, twitter

Wednesday 18 October 2023

Postcards from the Line - Linlithgow - 21st Oct to 19th Nov 2023

(sorry for such horrible varied font sizes etc, I can't work out how to make the glitches go away)

October! It must be time for Postcards from The Line

Postcards from the Line is an annual exhibition at the Line Gallery in Linlithgow - my lovely hometown gallery and the first gallery to ever exhibit my work, at least 20 years ago.

There are usually well more than 200 artworks, all sized A5 or under, all unframed, huge variety of media, 2D and 3D, all £100 or under***. It is a really really exciting exhibition. I delivered my ten this week and was allowed a sneak preview as the big sorting began:

The exhibition begins with an opening celebration this Saturday 21st October at 2pm. 

Then runs until 4pm on Sunday 19th November at:

The Line Gallery
238 High Street, Linlithgow, EH49 7EF

Opening Hours:
Thurs - Sat 10 - 5
Sun 1 - 4

If you're interested in buying any of my ten works please contact Gail and Elisabet at the Line by emailing or phoning +44 (0)1506 670 268.

They are all based on places I have been, things I have seen. Nearly all painted out in situ. Here they are:

Loch Arklet, watercolour, 15x21cm, £55

Longhaven cliffs, ink, 15x21cm, £55

Montecassino, watercolour, 15x21cm, £75

Scurdie Ness lighthouseink, 21x15cm, £50

cormorant isleacrylic, 15x21cm, £100

Old Wardour Castle, watercolour, 15x21cm, £75

woodland rainink, 15x21cm, £85

the early morning mist, Rosemount, acrylic, 15x21cm, £100

drumming snipe, watercolour, 15x21cm, £85

Bass Rock & Tantallon Castlewatercolour, 15x21cm, £95

If you're interested in buying any of my ten works please contact Gail and Elisabet at the Line by emailing or phoning +44 (0)1506 670 268.

Monday 9 October 2023

November exhibition - a family trio - Edinburgh 4-9 Nov 2023

A family exhibition of painting, printmaking and ceramics on Edinburgh's gallery street. A family show by me, Susan Smith and Dorothea Reid. Dorothea and Susan are first cousins and grew up in Peterhead on the Aberdeenshire coast. Susan is my mum. All three of us are very much inspired by environment and place and are delighted and excited to be exhibiting together after well more than a decade of talking about it.


We'd love to see you on our opening day, Saturday 4th November 10am - 6pm.
Refreshments will be served 🍷
All are most welcome.

23b Dundas Street
(access is up a short flight of external steps)

Following that our opening times are:
Sun 5th, 11am - 6pm
Mon 6th, 11am - 6pm
Tues 7th, 11am - 6pm
Wed 8th, 11am - 6pm
Thur 9th, 11am - 5pm

All three of us will be there on the opening day. Other days we will take it in turns a bit so if you hope to chat with a particular one of us please get in touch first to check which days and times we'll be in.


About the Exhibition:

Leo du Feu, Dorothea Reid, Susan Smith

a family exhibition of painting, original printmaking and ceramics

First cousins Dorothea Reid and Susan Smith grew up in and on the outskirts of Peterhead on Scotland’s North-East coast. Both went on to study art, Susan completing her MFA in Fine Art at Edinburgh College of Art in the 1970’s, Dorothea her BA Ceramics & Glass and MA Art & Design Ceramics at Bucks New University in the early 2000’s. Susan’s son Leo du Feu followed in his mum’s footsteps attending Edinburgh College and completing his BA Honours Drawing and Painting degree in 2006.

Around the time Leo was finishing at ECA the three relatives spent time together on gallery visits to London and in Buckinghamshire where Dorothea now lives near a magical ancient woodland called Burnham Beeches. As they explored the woods they sketched and talked and decided they one day must exhibit their work together. A decade and a half later, their November 2023 exhibition in The Life Room on Dundas Street is the result of this.

All three artists are inspired by natural things. By place, landscape, trees, plants and creatures. By history, people, culture. Dorothea is a ceramicist and a printmaker. Susan is a painter, a linocut printmaker and a tapestry weaver. Leo is a painter and sketcher-by-train with a love for miniature and discovered worlds.


I will be displaying a selection of works covering the various different aspects of my art output: outdoor pastels and paintings; Scotland By Rail pieces; Discovered Worlds; wood engravings; and a new batch of my miniatures painted on found pottery sherds, stones and the like.

Leo du Feu

Leo du Feu

Leo du Feu

Dorothea Reid

Dorothea Reid

Dorothea Reid

Dorothea Reid

Susan Smith

Susan Smith

Susan Smith

Susan Smith


Please feel most free to share this info and/or the exhibition poster with your friends, family and colleagues. If you would like a higher res version of the flyer to print out and put anywhere such as your office or friendly local cafe or library please let me know and I'll be delighted to send it to you! It's exciting and nerve wracking to be putting on an exhibition again and all help with spreading the word is very much appreciated.

We look forward to welcoming you to our exhibition :)

Thank you.

Leo, Susan, Dorothea
The Life Room
4th - 9th November 2023


Let me know if you wish to sign up to my art e-mailing list for future exhibitions and other arty things - 


Wednesday 19 July 2023

Scotland By Rail - Aviemore - Rothiemurchus forest

A Scotland By Rail trip to Aviemore.

This blog post doesn't explore the town itself but travels straight out to Rothiemurchus forest at Coylumbridge for wildlife, walking in prime Scottish native woodland, mountain views.

I live in Burntisland and the journey north from here to Aviemore is so good. (Even better from Edinburgh as you get to go over the Forth Rail Bridge) The gorgeous Fife coast, Lomond Hills, views across the River Tay, Perth, Dunkeld, Pitlochry, through/over the Drumochter Pass - the highest point on the UK mainline rail network at 1,484ft. Through Kingussie, past Ruthven Barracks, Loch Insh. Then arrive into Aviemore. If you're lucky a Strathspey Steam Railway steam locomotive will be there to meet you, sharing the lovely wooden chalet-style station with ScotRail and other operators.

Once you're in Aviemore you can easily get to our walk start spot - buses leave Aviemore hourly and the journey is only a few minutes. Get off in Coylumbridge and you're pretty much in the Rothiemurchus forest. We took the Glen Einich track which starts on the west side of a small woodland campsite. Or you could walk to here from Aviemore station, an approx 3km walk, not quite two miles, pavement all the way.

We spent the afternoon in the forest, just walking there and back along a main footpath.

Scots pine, ash, silver birch, rowan...

At a small lochan we watched a pair of common sandpipers and their full-size but still slightly fluffy youngster. We sat near to the lochan and watched them do their stuff. I took shaky videos including the young one among the grasses. At one point one of the adults perched in the branches of a Scots pine - listen to the sound on that video and you can hear the sandpiper's call.

listen to the call in this one

We watched a young bullfinch, a young robin, a young wren, young long-tailed tits. We heard and saw a great spotted woodpecker and a crossbill as they flew (separately) over our heads. Willow warblers sang loudly in quite a few places. We saw lots of moths and once there was the flicker of a lizard as it darted off a lichen covered rock.

We watched a wood ant slowly and jerkily pull along a metallic blue beetle, dead, many times the ant's own size and weight. A bit later we stopped at a wood ant nest, the whole large brown rounded mound alive with movement.

We looked at orchids and other flowers all alongside the track. We ate from the blaeberries which were growing in great numbers amongst the heather. Juniper lined our route a lot of the way.

An is-it-a-golden eagle quickly became a buzzard. For that first moment its wingtips had looked so long and spread, then it mewed and became the buzzard that it really was

One of our stops was looking over open land - pine and other native trees regenerating rapidly thanks to deer being fenced out. Imagine if we had wolves back here, doing it naturally.

I worked in soft pastel looking looking over the open land and past the pine tops to the exciting jagged sheer scree of the Lairig Ghru.

Many thanks to Maurizio De Vita Photography & Storytelling for the photo of me working.


Aviemore station is easy to reach by rail from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, Inverness...

Check before your journey at

Thank you for reading my Scotland By Rail blog.

Spread the word and let me know about your own favourite railway days out.

Leo du Feu
ScotRail Community Rail Champion
July 2023

#ScotlandByRail on facebook, instagram, twitter