Estate, Friends, History, Kinneil House, walking

Friends volunteers host weekly guided outdoor walk for summer Saturdays

With summer beckoning and the visitor season getting busier as people enjoy the recent easing of restrictions, the Friends of Kinneil volunteers will now be offering a free weekly guided walk at 2pm on Saturday afternoons until further notice at Kinneil Estate in Bo’ness. The programme of outdoor tours began in March, but until now has been fortnightly.

Ian Shearer, Chairman of the Friends, is looking forward to welcoming visitors on the first May tour at 2pm this Saturday, 7 May. He said: “Kinneil Estate looks glorious during this warmer weather of late Spring. It has so much to offer in its 200 acres of parkland, with over 2,000 years of history.

“We think that those arriving to discover this unique place, and wealth of history, should be made welcome with regular guided tours.

“In Scotland’s Year of Stories, come along to hear some of Kinneil’s many stories. 2022-23 is also the Centenary of the process of Kinneil Estate and House first becoming a much-loved park and public heritage asset.”

Kinneil House welcoming return of visitors at sunny recent open day

Visitors and locals recently celebrated the re-opening by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) of Kinneil House itself for its first open day since 2019 on Sunday 24 April. Tours of its interiors were fully booked, but the next scheduled open date is not until June.

Essential visitor information – please read carefully:

* The free outdoor walking tours will be offered every Saturday until further notice at 2pm. PLEASE NOTE: There will no outdoor tours on Saturday 4 June (when a car show will be setting up) or Saturday 25 June (when Kinneil House itself will be open for indoor tours by Historic Environment Scotland).

* There is no need to book, just turn up – meet outside Kinneil Museum (itself open free, usually daily except Tuesdays, 12.30-4pm), where a toilet is also located and may be available, although visitors may wish to use other facilities elsewhere before arrival.

* The tour will last around an hour. Tours will feature some of the history and heritage of Kinneil House and Estate, and in some weeks may feature a special theme (keep an eye out for updates). All ages welcome. The walk on Saturday 28 May will have a Roman theme, and be slightly longer as it extends to Kinneil’s Roman fortlet.

* Kinneil House itself is generally closed. It will be opened by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) only for a limited number of special open days. Among other things, it contains what are considered to be Scotland’s finest domestic wall paintings of the mid-16th and 17th Centuries. Further details of those open days with guided tours of the interiors (early booking essential – limited availability) may be found on the HES web page for Kinneil House and on this Friends of Kinneil web site too.

* 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 usually 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. Roman-themed walks may be slightly longer, as the route extends to Kinneil Fortlet. 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!