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. 

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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

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