Mid-Calder to Long Hermiston, Lothian

This walk is part of the trek Lothian-90 Walk.

Third Leg of a 90-mile walk across the whole of the Lothians, using quiet footpaths, country parks, disused railway lines, river banks, tracks and the occasional minor road.

Technical sheet
No. 24832908
A West Lothian walk posted on 03/08/22 by Roy's Edimburg Walks. Update : 04/08/22
Calculated time Calculated time: 4h05[?]
Distance Distance : 13.88km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 44m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 77m
Highest point Highest point : 109m
Lowest point Lowest point : 66m
Easy Difficulty : Easy
Back to starting point Back to starting point : No
Walking Walking
Location Location : West Lothian
Starting point Starting point : N 55.892595° / W 3.480187°
Ending point Ending point : N 55.91746° / W 3.32001°
Download : -


Start : Mid-Calder, Torphichen Arms, EH53 0AR

(D) With your back to the Torphichen Arms turn right, and then immediately right again down Gasworks Brae into a small park.

(1) Cross the leftmost bridge to find a path which takes you beneath the imposing stone arch of the old coaching-road. Beyond, climb the steep flight of steps, turning left as the top is gained. A good path leads through trees and alongside a field to reach a cross-path. Rise up to the cross-path.

(2) Turn right and follow the cross-path as it meanders alongside the R. Almond. Pass the modern sewage works. Cross the R Almond at the bridge immediately below the weir.

(3) Once across the river, the route follows the canal feeder and river downstream all the way (2.5 miles) to the Union canal.

(4) Pass beneath the imposing railway viaduct using the quaint old shelter. Leave the feeder channel when it is cleverly routed across the river, instead just carry straight on following the riverside path downstream all the way to the Ranger Centre (A).*

(5) On leaving the Centre, carry on downstream. Almost immediately, beyond the old stable block (now toilets) bear right and cross the suspension bridge (B) and (C). Carry on over many stiles, and through many gates.

(6) Just before reaching the canal aqueduct (D) climb to the right up steps. Turn left and slant down to pass under the canal. Once through, immediately climb steep stone steps on the right to arrive at the canal basin. At the top of the stone steps, turn left towards Edinburgh.

(7) Follow the towpath, for a mile, until a signed footpath to Platt Hill branches off.

(8) At the Platt Hill junction take the footpath along the field edge and pass alongside the busy motorway slip-road.

(9) On nearing the summit of Platt Hill be sure to detour slightly right in order to look down into the indoor climbing area (E). Return to the path to continue ahead and onwards, along a quiet, tree-lined, old lane, to emerge in Ratho.

(10) Turn right, to reach the delightful Ratho Church. Immediately after Ratho Church re-join the canal.

(11) Turn left towards Edinburgh. Walk for two miles along the towpath to bridge number 12 (F) at Hermiston.

(12) At bridge 12, rise up to the road. Turn right, cross the canal and walk a short distance, past the cottages of Wester Row on your right, and so reach the main A71.

(13) Turn left along the A71 to arrive at the end of leg 3, at Long Hermiston, North entrance to Heriot-Watt University grounds. (A)

The Heriot-Watt bus-stop lies a few dozen paces to the left along the A71. First buses 27/28, for Edinburgh, stop here (approx every 15 mins).

Waypoints :
D : km 0 - alt. 109m - Torphichen Arms
1 : km 0.15 - alt. 98m - Bridge
2 : km 0.58 - alt. 87m - R. Almond
3 : km 1.45 - alt. 88m - Canal feeder
4 : km 1.77 - alt. 89m - Railway viaduct
5 : km 2.9 - alt. 78m - Ranger Centre
6 : km 5.31 - alt. 66m - Canal aqueduct
7 : km 7.78 - alt. 82m - Towpath
8 : km 8.14 - alt. 92m - Platt Hill junction
9 : km 8.38 - alt. 94m - Indoor climbing area
10 : km 9.41 - alt. 76m - Ratho
11 : km 9.64 - alt. 75m - Canal
12 : km 13.49 - alt. 74m - Bridge 12 - Hermiston
13 : km 13.72 - alt. 83m - A71
A : km 13.88 - alt. 83m - Long Hermiston

Useful Information

Start : Mid-Calder, Torphichen Arms, EH53 0AR
End : Long Hermiston, north entrance to Heriot-Watt University grounds
Transport :

  • Walk start : First Buses 27/28 run on the Edinburgh - Bathgate route (approx every 15 mins).
  • Walk end : First Bus 27/28 to Edinburgh

(First Bus. Further information from http://www.firstgroup.co )
Facilities : *The excellent Ranger Centre serves coffee, ice-creams, etc. It also provides information displays & leaflets about the Park. Toilets.

More information at Roy's Edimburg Walks website here.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

(A) Calderwood Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This ancient woodland bounded by the Murieston and Linhouse waters, has been woodland for hundreds of years. It has a long history. Trees were cut for charcoal in the 1500’s. Cattle drovers resting their cattle here in the 1700’s. The Forestry Commission extracted timber for building projects during the Great War.

(B) Naismyth Bridge, built around 1800. Question: who invented compression riveting? The bow and string bridge? Helped develop the world’s first paddle steamer, and according to celebrated Scottish painter Sir David Wilkie, was “the founder of the Landscape Painting School of Scotland”? Answer: Alexander Nasmyth.

(C) Almondell Country Park follows the line of the River Almond, with well made paths and roads criss- crossing the river over a variety of bridges. It is a popular location with walkers and families. The Union Canal Feeder runs through it for 3.04 km. Water for the narrow canal feeder channel originates in Cobbinshaw Reservoir, then runs via the Murieston and Linhouse Waters, and the River Almond to the Mid- Calder weir. Burke and Hare (later better known for taking their trade in body snatching to extremes, and murdering victims for sale to the medical establishment) were two Ulstermen who came to Scotland to work as navvies on the building of the Union Canal, and its feeder.

(D) Lin's mill Aqueduct was built with advice from Thomas Telford. He used an iron trough to achieve water- tightness, Lin's grave (1645) inscribed with a shield, skull & crossbones lies nearby. Lin is popularly known as "the last person to die of the plague in Scotland". No-one would help his wife bury him, so she had to put his body in a sack and drag him into the woods for burial.

(E) Ratho Climbing Centre. The largest indoor climbing centre in Europe.

(F) Union Canal Bridge No 12. The Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal runs for 32 miles and 11⁄4 furlongs. The canal, constructed to bring minerals, especially coal, to the capital opened in 1822. The 62 bridges are all numbered. Close by to bridge 12, in 1834, John Scott Russell a young Scottish engineer made a remarkable discovery - the soliton. He was observing the motion of a canal boat, which was being rapidly drawn along by a pair of horses, when the boat suddenly stopped—not so the mass of water in front. It accumulated round the prow of the vessel in a state of violent agitation, then suddenly rolled forward with great velocity, assuming the form of a large solitary heap of water. Russell jumped on a horse, to overtake the single wave still rolling along at some eight miles an hour. The wave only gradually diminished, and after a chase of one or two miles Scott Russell lost it in the windings of the channel. It was not until the 1960s, and the advent of modern computers, that the significance of Scott Russell's discovery became apparent, especially in the field of fibre optical communications.

Background notes to all nine "Lothian Transect Route" walks. Lothian is the region of the Scottish Lowlands lying between the Firth of Forth and the Southern Uplands. It encompasses the old, historic counties of West Lothian, Edinburghshire (Midlothian), and East Lothian. The complete ‘Lothian Transect Route' crosses the whole of the Lothians, from its far western edge (Harthill) to its most easterly point (Dunglass), in nine 10-mile long sections. All nine legs have been designed to begin and end at places well served by public transport.
West Lothian sits astride the main routes between Edinburgh and the west. Originally a pleasant, fertile and well-wooded county, West Lothian became industrialised from the 1840s onwards. First ironstone, then coal and shale mining dotted the landscape with bings. Today the remaining bings are treasured as industrial monuments - the pink ones are shale, the grey ones coal. Since WWII the heavy industry has gone and been replaced by electronics and service industries. Thousands of houses came with the development of Livingstone New Town. Such overspill towns were an ambitious post-WWII attempt to meet Scotland’s housing challenge, caused by the shortage in the big cities. Despite all these C19th and C20th developments it is possible to walk across West Lothian along quiet footpaths, through pleasant community woodlands, over reclaimed bings, along riversides and though old country parks.

Midlothian provides more space and solitude. The transect route crosses through the Pentland Hills, ever popular with hill walkers or outdoor enthusiasts, and then onward through more old mining and manufacturing areas into a rich agricultural landscape. Old railway lines nowadays provide handy walking and cycling paths.
East Lothian is one of the most picturesque areas of Scotland. It also had an extremely important agricultural and industrial past. Officially the sunniest and driest area in Scotland, it has a gentle, open aspect and is home to a rich variety of wildlife. It is bounded on the south by the Lammermuir Hills and stretches eastwards to the boundary with Scottish Borders at Dunglass.

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