Bo'ness Foreshore, Kinneil Colliery, Kinneil Nature Reserve, Nature reserve, walking

Kinneil’s feathered appeal is no flight of fancy

“Kinneil Nature Reserve is an amazing place to visit.”David Anderson, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Scotland

The Kinneil foreshore welcomes thousands of walkers and cyclists each year. But the area is also an important destination for visitors of the feathered variety.

David Anderson, from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in Scotland is impressed by the site, now a designated local nature reserve. He says: “One of the most exciting aspects of it is the fact that it sits right next to an internationally-important protected area – an area where you can see a huge variety of species of birds. It really comes alive during the winter months when thousands of waders and ducks come down from the artic breeding grounds to feed on the mudflats that sit next to the Kinneil Nature Reserve. It’s quite a stunning spectacle.”

AUDIO: Listen to Dave and others talk about the Foreshore in a free audio guide.

Here’s some of the birds to look out for:

  • SHELDUCK – This colourful duck is bigger than a mallard and is usually found in coastal locations. The Shelduck has been adopted as the logo for the Kinneil Nature Reserve.
  • KNOT – A dumpy wading bird.
  • REDSHANK – A wading bird with red legs, hence the name. They hunt for insects by putting their bills into soil and mud.
  • DUNLIN – One of the most common wading birds found along our coasts.
  • WIGEON – A colourful, medium-sized duck.
  • TEAL – The males have distinctive chestnut coloured heads, with green stripes around their eyes.
  • MALLARD – The males have a stunning green head and yellow bill.
  • GREAT CRESTED GREBE – A colourful bird with some ornate head gear.
  • GOLDENEYE – Not a Bond film but a green headed duck.
  • PINTAIL – A duck with a tapering tail.
  • OYSTERCATCHER – A black and white wading bird, with orange bill and reddish legs.
  • RINGER PLOVER – A brown and white wading bird.
  • LAPWING – A black and white bird, also known as a Peewit.
A shelduck has become the logo for Kinneil Nature Reserve.

Native tree species like Alder, Willow, Scots Pine and Birch have been planted over the site – as they are tolerant of poor soils and the harsh, coastal conditions. Bramble and Sea Buckthorn have also been established. The meadow areas are also being encouraged and managed.

Falkirk Council works with groups across the local area to improve nature sites. If you’re interested, email:


Popular residents along the Bo’ness foreshore are flocks of Carrion Crows. The RSPB describes them as “one of the cleverest, most adaptable of our birds”. Crows are known as Craws or Corbies in Scotland and they feature in two place names near the foreshore: Corbiehall (just along from the Harbour) and the Craw Yett (the northern entrance to Kinneil Estate). Bo’ness is also said to be the inspiration for the fictional work “The Hill of the Crows”, by Frederick Sleath, published in 1921.

A picture of a Carrion Crow. Picture by Ian Kirk. CC BY 2.0

This content was produced in association with Sustrans Scotland as part of the Scottish Greenways Programmein association with Falkirk Council and Great Place Falkirk.

Sustrans is a registered charity in England and Wales (number 326550) and Scotland (SC039263) and a company limited by guarantee registered in England No 1797726 at 2 Cathedral Square, Bristol, BS1 5DD.

Kinneil Colliery, Kinneil Nature Reserve

Harking back to when coal was king . . .

Today it’s a haven for wildlife and walkers.

But the site of Kinneil Nature Reserve was once home to the last colliery in Bo’ness.

The National Coal Board started construction on new pit buildings at Kinneil in 1951. Works were completed in 1956.

The Colliery was described as a “major project in the great reconstruction programmes for the coal mines of Scotland”.

It boasted a striking new design – inspired by a colliery in West Germany. One writer said it offered “excitingly modern sculptural shapes in reinforced concrete” – such as its two flare ventilator extractors.

The buildings at Kinneil also included offices, baths, a canteen and medical facilities.

At its peak, the site employed around 1200 people and was designed to cope efficiency with 3000 tons of coal per day.

It gained fame when miners linked underground tunnels from Kinneil to Valleyfield in Fife in 1965.The tunnel is remembered in a simple seat and mini tunnel memorial, located near Bo’ness Harbour. (There is also a memorial to mining in Bo’ness town centre.)

By the early 1980s, however, Kinneil Colliery was facing a bleak future.

By 1982, the workforce had dwindled to 300 – and coal bosses announced plans to close the pit, citing geological difficulties.

The Kinneil workforce launched a campaign to keep the colliery open, even staging a Christmas sit-in hundreds of feet below ground. Sadly, it was all to no avail.

Fellow miners in Scotland refused to stage a strike to support the Bo’ness workers – or even a week-long walkout.

The late Simon Martin, the National Union of Mineworkers’ secretary at Kinneil (who would later serve as a councillor for Bo’ness) was quoted at the time, saying: “Workers at Kinneil are shattered at the treatment they have received.”

He said there was a “very, very deep feeling” the Kinneil workers had been let down by NUM president Arthur Scargill and Scottish president Mick McGahey.

The pit was officially shut down on April 29, 1983.

By the autumn of that year, demolition was underway. Some buildings were retained until the 1990s – including the winding gear and the fancy ventilator towers. However, the decision was made to fully clear the site. A concrete bridge from the complex in the only remnant of the pit to see today.

Kinneil Colliery images available from Canmore / Historic Environment Scotland.

This content was produced in association with Sustrans Scotland as part of the Scottish Greenways Programme, in association with Falkirk Council and Great Place Falkirk.

Sustrans is a registered charity in England and Wales (number 326550) and Scotland (SC039263) and a company limited by guarantee registered in England No 1797726 at 2 Cathedral Square, Bristol, BS1 5DD.