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.

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Great events on the John Muir Way at Kinneil

2017 JMC logo COLOUR portrait eps v2 100317Walkers and history fans are being urged to explore the John Muir Way this April, with a series of events across the 134-mile route.

In Bo’ness, there’s a walk from Kinneil to Blackness Castle and back. There will also be a free open day at Kinneil House, with a costumed interpreter organised to take people back to the 17th century.

The events are being held around the birthday of John Muir, the Scots naturalist and explorer, who was born on April 21, 1838.

They also coincide with the third anniversary of the opening of the coast-to-coast John Muir Way, which launched in 2014, and which runs through the Bo’ness and Kinneil areas.

The Friends of Kinneil charity has organised a “Walk along the Way” on Saturday, April 22. The guided walk will take in Kinneil Nature Reserve and the stunning views along the Forth from Carriden and Blackness beaches. The trek (six miles each way, a total of 12 miles round trip) will leave from outside Kinneil House/Museum at 1 p.m. on April 22. There’s no need to book, although children must be accompanied.

For more information, click

Friends volunteers are also teaming up with Historic Environment Scotland to run a free open day at Kinneil House the following day – on Sunday, April 23. There will be free tours around the mansion from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. (last admission 3.30 p.m.) A costumed interpreter will also be on hand to tell visitors about Anne, 3rd Duchess of Hamilton, one of the building’s best known residents, who was instrumental in developing the imposing House and its stunning Estate.

Kinneil Museum will also be open.

Please note that Kinneil House will only be open for the Sunday event.

Other John Muir events are also taking place around the country. See for details.


At both the walk and open day, The Friends will be running free draws for copies of the John Muir Way guidebook, produced by Rucksack Readers. We have four copies, worth £11.99 each, to give away. To be in with a chance of winning a copy, come along to either event – or both! Thanks to Central Scotland Green Network and John Muir Way partners for their support.

For updates, see social media at and


You can walk along the John Muir Way with The Friends of Kinneil on April 22. More at


See inside Kinneil House and meet a Duchess at the open day on April 23. More on Kinneil open days at  and 

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John Muir Way events

Events are taking place at Kinneil and around Falkirk District to mark the first anniversary of the launch of the new John Muir Way.

They include a free open weekend at Kinneil House on April 18 and 19, 2015:

  • Kinneil House will be open from noon to 3 p.m. (last admission 2.30 p.m.) on April 18 and 19, 2015.
  • The House features renaissance wall paintings, dating back to the 16th century.
  • The Weekend will also feature performances from costumed interpreter, plus ranger walks, and giveaways (see below for info on a free prize draw).
  • The revamped Kinneil Museum, next door to the House, will also be open both afternoons.

Read the news release about the open weekend here.

If you’re visiting the House and its surrounding Kinneil Estate for the first time, get directions here.


Thanks to a donation from SNH and Bo’net, we’ve got John Muir books and other nature goodies to give away in a free prize draw at Kinneil House. Come along – you could win a prize!


Scroll down for information on other John Muir events around Falkirk District. You’ll also find details in this newsletter from Bo’net (PDF).


IT’S been a year since the launch of the John Muir Way: Scotland’s coast-to-coast trail stretching 134 miles (or 215 km) across Scotland’s heartland. The Way runs between Helensburgh in the west through to Dunbar on the east coast and Muir’s birthplace.

Walkers, cyclists and horse riders can enjoy the coastal scenery, sweeping landscapes, wildlife sites and historic visitor attractions across Scotland’s heartland.

From the Clyde coast the route travels inland to Gouk Hill with splendid views of Scotland’s first national park – Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. John Muir would surely approve!

Moving east the route takes in the unique Falkirk Wheel, the Roman remains of the Antonine Wall, Arthur’s Seat volcano in Edinburgh, and on to the rocky coastline of Dunbar, where Muir played as a boy.

To mark the first anniversary, SNH and partners are running events and activities around the Way, helping people celebrate Muir’s love of the outdoors. Find out more about what’s on at:

There is also a dedicated website for this way-marked route. It provides people with all sorts of useful information on completing all or part of the Way, places to stop for a bite to eat and local points of interest worth a visit.  Much of the Way links with public transport, making it easy to reach, so why not give it a go this spring?


HERE are some of the local events taking place to mark the first anniversary of the opening of the John Muir Way.

kinneilcover1.jpgSaturday, April 18
The Kelpies turn purple for the John Muir Way anniversary. Helix Park, Falkirk, (time TBC).

Kinneil House Open Day, Kinneil Estate, Bo’ness, noon to 3 p.m. See inside this renaissance building, right beside the John Muir Way, for free.

Sunday, April 19
John Muir Way “Walk Falkirk Challenge”, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Join Falkirk Council Ranger Service on the first leg of a walk of around 11 miles along the John Muir Way in Falkirk district, from Banknock heading east. The walk will stop for a short break at Falkirk Wheel at lunchtime (bring your own picnic).  En route walkers will learn about Falkirk’s history and wildlife. Booking essential. More information: 01324 504950 or email:

Kinneil House Open Day, Kinneil Estate, Bo’ness, noon to 3 p.m. See inside this renaissance building for free – and go for a walk along the John Muir Way in the grounds of the surrounding Kinneil Estate and neighbouring Nature Reserve.

Monday, April 20
Toddling O’Clock – Poppy’s Garden,
10.30 a.m. Callendar House, Falkirk. Sensory drama, music and a mini-adventure for two to five-year-olds and their adult. More information: Cost £3.50 (admits one child and up to two adult carers). Booking essential: call the Steeple Box Office on 01324 506850

Friday, April 24
John Muir Way Badger Watch,  7.45 p.m. Muiravonside Country Park near Whitecross. Suitable for adults and children six years and over. Price £3 per person. Booking essential: call the Steeple Box Office on 01324 506850

Saturday, April 25
Environmental Festival, Callendar House, Falkirk 10 a.m. Come along and meet representatives from Falkirk Community Trust, the Forestry Commission, Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre, the RSPB, the local Nature Fest festival and Scottish Badgers in front of Callendar House. Find out how to become more eco-friendly, make use of your parks and woodlands, and re-discover nature. Call Callendar House on 01324 503770.

The people of Blackness and Bo’ness mark the first anniversary of the John Muir Way with a community walk from Carriden, Bo’ness, to Blackness Castle. Leaves at Carriden Church car park at 1 pm. (There will also be activities around the church from late morning.) Round trip, around five miles. Bring a picnic to enjoy in the castle grounds.

Sunday, April 26
Music session with Falkirk Folk Club, featuring Carron Cast. Corbie Inn, Corbiehall, Bo’ness, from 8 p.m. to midnight. Free. The real ale pub, which also boasts a micro-brewery, is just off the John Muir Way.


Tour Kinneil

THERE’S lots of exciting things to see in Kinneil Estate. If you’re visiting for the first time, why not try this guided tour? It’s one of a series of walks in a new guide, published by Falkirk Council. Copies of the guide are available for free from Kinneil Museum and other Council outlets.

You can also download a copy of the guide for the Council website. (PDF format)

Historian Ian Scott followed part of the route as part of an organised walk in the Estate. If you missed the walk, but would like to hear Ian’s stories and comments, click the audio files below. You can also find this content online at

START: The best place to start your visit is at Kinneil Museum – a small red, roofed building in front of the imposing Kinneil House. Park your car in the small parking area next to the Museum, or in the larger car parking area off Provost Road at Kinneil Woods, a short distance away. The museum features an extensive display on the history of Kinneil Estate.

There’s also a short video about what you might see during your visit. The Museum is usually open Monday to Saturday, all year, from 12.30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
1. From the Museum follow the red blaes path towards the imposing Kinneil House.The oldest part of the structure dates back to the late 15th century. It was remodelled in the 16th century, and transformed into a stately home for the Dukes of Hamilton in the 1660s. The House is only open on selected free days during the year. Ask at the Museum for dates.

Hear Ian’s introduction (in two parts)

Hear more about the House

The House boasts some of the best renaissance wall paintings in Scotland – plus a resident ghost!

Hear Ian talk about the White Lady – Lady Alice Lilbourne.

2. Standing in front of the House, look for a small exit in the wall to the left (right next to the building) and go through this.

From this position, Ian talks about the rear of the House – and a fossilised tree.

You should come to  roofless, 18th century building. This is James Watt’s Cottage – a building where the famous inventor carried out his early work to develop the steam engine. Watt was working in partnership with John Roebuck, who leased Kinneil House for a period.

Hear Ian talk about the Cottage – and Kinneil played a key part in the Industrial Revolution

3. To the immediate west of the cottage is a small footbridge. Cross this and head towards the ruins of the 12th century Kinneil Church. It used to be surrounded by a medieval village. The village and its many inhabitants are all gone today – but parts of the church and its gravestones remain.

Ian talks about the story of the Church – and the neighbouring village (in two parts)

4.   Carry on past the church into the field to the west. Follow the path round the East Pond. You should shortly come to the remains of a Roman Fortlet from the 2nd century – linked to the turf Antonine Wall. This is part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site.Details about the Fortlet and a special guide to walks around the Antonine Wall are available from the Museum.

Ian Scott talks about the Roman Fortlet (in two parts)

5. Continue along the path to the West Pond. This is populated by swans, coots and ducks – and is popular with younger visitors. Here you can turn left to Kinneil Woods and make your way back to the car park.

6. Alternatively, go round the back (western edge) of the pond. This is a longer way to enter the Woods. There are a number of paths through the Woods to enjoy. If you think you’re getting lost, just ask one of the many regular walkers or cyclists for directions.

Audio hosted by Audio Boom –


Step Forth and get fit

WALK group Step Forth runs regular, free health walks around Kinneil Estate in Bo’ness. The walks – which run three times a week – are suitable for all ages.

The walks usually run every Monday and Thursday, starting at 10.30 a.m., and every Tuesday, starting at 2 p.m. All walks leave from outside Kinneil Museum and run for around 45 minutes. The walks usually cover Kinneil Woods and other parts of the historic Kinneil Estate. (Please note the walks may not run during holiday periods.)

If you’d like to take part simply turn up at the correct time outside the Museum to join in. For more information, watch the video by clicking the YouTube link below – or email:

Another version of this video can be seen on the Vimeo website. Visit:

Visit the Step Forth webpages for more information.