The Shale Trail
A new route through West Lothian’s industrial past…
LFGNP are interested in examining the potential to develop a “Shale Trail” across West Lothian, that connects and highlights key heritage sites linked to the shale oil history. The industry, which operated in the area for over a century and declined in the mid-20th century, has not only shaped local and national history, but has moulded the local landscape too.
Back to the future
The route has been inspired and is loosely based on the ‘Paraffin Young Heritage Trail’ which was set up in the 1970s by the Lothian Regional Council. This was a sightseeing route that was intended for car users.
Our aim is to create a route that is fit for the 21st century and that keeps in line with the environmental and healthy lifestyles agenda. The Shale Trail encourages active travel and recreation opportunities in nature, traversing both rural and urban landscapes. Using the existing network of core paths, rights of way and national cycling and strategic routes the Shale Trail would offer cycling and walking opportunities across West Lothian.
Green Active Travel- Connecting the dots
The paths will allow local communities and visitors:
- To explore the industrial past of West Lothian all the way from Winchburgh to West Calder with plenty to see on the way.
- To enjoy the benefits of green and blue networks by tracing the river Almond, the Union Canal and former quarries, which are now pools thriving with wildlife, as well as bypassing scheduled monuments- the famous Greendykes and Five Sisters bings which can be seen for miles.
- To access user-friendly information digitally and via signage and maps to open-up the routes and connect communities to a wider network.
- To create and deepen a sense of identity with West Lothian and its past.
- To see public art which tells the stories of the shale extraction days and culture in places such as Broxburn (‘the shale people’). There are multiple sources to hear more personal and historic accounts which could benefit from the ‘shale trail’ website as a platform.
Rich in heritage, biodiversity and blue and green infrastructure, the West Lothian Shale trail has the potential to be a fascinating way to enjoy the unique natural environment that connects communities across West Lothian.
We are working with our partners and individual organisations towards completing the first phase of the project which is a feasibility study. This will help identify opportunities for signage, path works, green networks, and community engagement. Applications to the CSGN Development Fund and LEADER for a feasibility study were both successful, and we hope to soon appoint consultants to provide a more detailed study of our proposals. For more information, or if the Shale Trail is of interest, please contact Rory@lfgnp.org.uk
For more about West Lothian’s shale history go to www.scottishshale.co.uk