Saturday, 25 July 2015

blog - Scotland by Rail - Livingston North - wooded footpaths

Livingston's paths 

If you've a check-up at St John's or are going to an exhibition or concert or workshop at Howden Park Centre, why not make it an adventure and take the train. The nearest station is Livingston North and then it's about a 25 minute walk along the Alderstone path, and despite being all urban the walk is really nice. Livingston is the fourth of Scotland's post-war new towns and was designed in a way that feels conducive to a pretty pleasant walking (and cycling?) experience. Woodland paths run through and between all the housing estates and keep you largely hidden from the busier roads.

There's a great mix of species in the hedgerows and among the younger trees. Hazel, holly, beech, cherries, privet, rowan, wild rose (dog rose), hawthorn, maple, elder, rhododendron, yew. There must be good foraging through most of the year. I ate ripe red bird cherries, saw fungi sprouting on grass banks, some blackberries ripening, rosehips forming. And conkers starting to grow, for playing in autumn.

Other trees are old, growing there prior to the town being built. Oaks, chestnut, pines, lime, sycamore, beech and more. The wooded paths are owned or in some way affiliated with the Woodland Trust. Undergrowth is left long and natural and is excellent habitat for wildlife.

(all the species in bold have fruit/flowers/nuts that are edible and good to variously nibble on/add to cooking/infuse as tea/turn to jam. Don't use any without reading up to be sure you know what you're trying. Lots of good books and websites are available.)

When you reach Howden Park you find a wide expanse of mown grassland interrupted by small copses of mature trees. In the summer months there are swallows and house martins hawking back and fore across the grass as they chase for insects. There's a walled garden hidden away at the north end of the park and a boggy little valley down below the windows of Howden Park Centre cafe - worth scanning for birds.


pines and undergrowth

lots of paths

supported by the Woodland Trust

even the roundabouts are nice! Though some of that grass should ben left long for wildlife

St John's Hospital

Rowan and chimney, beautiful bark

spot the robin

approaching Howden Park

Howden Park

Howden Park

Howden Park (Howden House on the right)

secret sycamore pool

Howden Park
Howden Park Centre hosts many interesting events, including lots of art workshops, sometimes run by me. Sign up to their newsletter at the bottom right of the page here.

St John's
St John's Hospital displays a big selection of top artworks across its corridors. One of my favourite paintings of all is there, a super-wide panoramic seascape with plenty of mystery by Glasgow artist Peter Thomson.

Another walk
Here's a link to another Livingston walk, not the route I took but gives a little snippet about the town's woodlands -

How to get there:

Livingston North is on the Edinburgh to Helensburgh line, trains stop there frequently.
Find the Scotrail timetable here.

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