Getting out the office or house and doing something that is not computer-based is something we should all consider, so when I'm out in the car I keep an eye out for somewhere different to walk.
One place that has always had me intrigued as I have driven by on many occasions is the Korean War Memorial in the Bathgate hills, so on a recent drive by I decided to take the time to stop and have a proper look.
Driving directions : Head out of Linlithgow on Preston Road from the west end of the High Street, following the sign to the Korean War Memorial. It is three miles along this road and there is a layby with space for several cars.
Although a walk was what I had in mind, it's really worth taking the time to wander around this unique memorial before heading off - or if the weather permits take the time for a picnic after your exercise at one of the picnic tables here.
The walk begins at the memorial and follows a path uphill. You cross a stile and follow the signpost to the Refuge Stone and Witchcraig Wall. The Witchcraig Wall is an enclosure providing a viewpoint and sheltered resting spot. Built in 2003 through the co-operation of a number of organisations, it incorporates 43 rocks of differing geological interest collected from across the Central Scotland panorama that you can see from here. And a large stone built into a wall behind this enclosure is another object of interest (see below).
From the information sign follow the path north, walking downhill and through woodland - Witchcraig Wood. At the bottom of the hill the path veers left and after approximately 175 yards you should see a stile on your right. Cross this stile and follow the path to a gate, taking the right track. As you pass a metal gate take an immediate right to pick up a smaller path (Guthries Path) which takes you uphill. At the top, after a dip, take the path to your left until you reach a wider path. It is then first a left turn followed by a right turn onto a track signposted Balvormie.
Follow the Balvormie sign and head through a meadow and along to the BBQ site at Beecraigs before reaching the road. You could make a picnic stop here. There are also loos so a good place for a break (and a large play park across the road from the BBQ site if you have little ones in tow).
To continue the walk, turn right on the road and head up a tree-lined avenue. At the top of the hill take the path to the right at the Beecraigs Country Park boundary sign, which will take you back onto Guthries Path. You can then retrace your route back to the War Memorial.
This route is about 4km and will probably take you around 1.5 hours. If you're short of time - maybe trying to fit in a bit of exercise in your lunch hour - you can walk up to the Witchcraig Wall, across to the Refuge Stone, enjoy the view and make your way back down again. It doesn't matter how short the walk - you will still feel the benefit for heart and mind!
The Scottish Korean War Memorial
The memorial comprises a small wooden pagoda, surrounded by 110 Korean pine trees (one for every ten Britons who died in the conflict), 1090 birch trees (one for each of the fallen) and picnic tables along a pathway named United Nations Avenue. This avenue is surrounded by 21 trees, representing the twenty-one nations involved in the UN force in Korea. The traditional Korean pagoda contains lists of those who died in the conflict, the vast majority of whom were young National Servicemen. The site opened on 27th June 2000, marking the 50th anniversary of the start of the war. It is maintained by West Lothian Council.
The Refuge Stone
The large stone built into a wall near the Witchcraig Wall is thought to be one of four 'refuge stones' that formed a circle at a radius of one (Scots) mile around Torphichen Preceptory. (The stone was moved here from its original location). They are thought to be prehistoric but re-used in medieval times to mark out a sanctuary - there is also a refuge stone in Torphichen Kirkyard, which marks the centre of the circle. All of the area within the circle formed by these stones was a legal sanctuary, like the church itself, offering protection from the law to criminals who remained within it. You can find the locations of all the stones and more information from the Canmore website at https://canmore.org.uk/event/707566
First published in Konect April 2016
Author: Karen Murray