Estate, History, Kinneil House, Kinneil Museum, walking

Guided walk at Kinneil House to feature Mary Queen of Scots link for Silent Film Festival weekend

Volunteer guides from the Friends of Kinneil will resume their free, regular outdoor walking tours at Kinneil House this Saturday, 19 March, during the acclaimed Silent Film Festival (now in its 12th season) taking place at the nearby Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness.

Discover the connections between Kinneil House and the reign of the young Mary, Queen of Scots

The special guided walk, at 1pm this Saturday, will feature Kinneil’s connection to the reign of Mary Queen of Scots, who also features on Wednesday (16 March) at the Opening Night of the Festival in the world premiere of a new restoration of The Loves of Mary Queen of Scots (1923), starring Fay Compton.

Further free guided outdoor history walks will then be run fortnightly at 2pm on Saturday 2, 16 and 30 April.

Ian Shearer, Chairman of the Friends of Kinneil, said: “As winter recedes, we are delighted to start welcoming visitors to Kinneil again with a special tour in support of this week’s fabulous Silent Film Festival at the historic Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness.

“Kinneil House is a 16th-Century palace built by the first Regent to the young Mary Queen of Scots, James Hamilton, who was her cousin and next in line to her throne. His eldest son and heir was among her various suitors, but that potential match had a doomed ending.

“In Scotland’s Year of Stories, find out more, on this free outdoor tour by our volunteer guides. Please visit our web site and check social media for full information and updates on the tours.”

Essential visitor information – please read carefully:

* This Saturday’s tour (19 March) will begin at 1pm to allow filmgoers to get back in time for the Hippodrome’s 3pm screening. Next month’s tours (2, 16 & 30 April) will be at the usual time of 2pm. Further summer events will be announced in due course.

* There is no need to book, just turn up – meet outside Kinneil Museum (itself open free, daily except Tuesdays, 12.30-4pm). The tour will last around an hour, and will also outline the wider history and heritage of Kinneil House and Estate. All ages welcome.

* Kinneil House itself currently remains closed inside by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) for the duration of the pandemic. Among other things, it contains what are considered to be Scotland’s finest domestic wall paintings of the mid-16th Century. It is hoped that HES may re-open the house soon for a limited number of 2022 open days – please keep an eye out for further details.

* Please do not attend if showing COVID-related symptoms or isolating. Face masks are not currently required outdoors, although they are needed if going inside Kinneil Museum, where a toilet is also located and may be available, although visitors may wish to use other facilities elsewhere before arrival. Visitors should also maintain social distancing between household groups, sanitise hands beforehand, not pass items between groups, avoid touching surfaces where possible, and observe relevant public health regulations and guidance in force at the time. Those attending agree to accept that participation in outdoor guided walking tours is at their own risk as far as any COVID hazards are concerned – as if attending a walk in the park of their own initiative.

* On arrival at the estate, please park in either the Museum or woodland car parks, or outside the estate, and not on grass verges, in the area in front of Kinneil House, nor in front of residents’ houses. Assemble for the tour just outside Kinneil Museum.

* The walk will mostly be along sound footpaths with minimal trip/slip hazards. All ages welcome – adults and children. Regrettably those who are infirm and/or in wheelchairs are respectfully advised not to join the walk, or only to take part in its initial stage next to Kinneil Museum and up to the front of Kinneil House.

* The route is short (Kinneil Museum – Kinneil House – James Watt Cottage – Kinneil Kirk – Kinneil Museum) but will take around one hour as the guide explains the history on view and responds to questions. During or after wet weather, some paths may be muddy and/or slippy: please wear suitable clothing and footwear for the conditions.

* If bringing a dog, please keep the dog away from other walkers, well-behaved, under control and on a lead at all times.

* The walk is free of charge and no booking is required, but donations to support the Friends of Kinneil, a registered charity, may be made at the end.

* Please check the Friends of Kinneil Facebook page or Twitter page before coming, to check for any announcements about cancellation or changes due to adverse weather conditions or other factors. We would do our best to post such announcements before 12 noon on the morning of any particular walk, which may otherwise be assumed to be going ahead although we cannot be held responsible for any unforeseen last-minute circumstances/cancellation.

* The main areas of Kinneil Estate also form part of the Antonine Wall World Heritage Site. Visitors may wish to continue with their own walk to explore Kinneil Roman Fortlet, and many other paths around the 200 acres of woods and historic parkland, or down the John Muir Way to Kinneil Foreshore towards Bo’ness and other attractions. A free leaflet about the estate’s ‘Hidden Heritage’ trail can be picked up in Kinneil Museum, and free audio tours are also available.

Our guides look forward to welcoming you, or welcoming you back, to Kinneil!