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Linlithgow (Scotland)

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    • More +
      16.05.2011 16:53
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      A great place to visit between Edinburgh and Stirling.

      Situated midway between Edinburgh and Stirling, Linlithgow is well placed for a visit on any sightseeing tour of the area. Successive monarchs certainly thought it worth stopping here. In contrast with the fortified castles of its well known neighbours, Linlithgow's main attraction is the site of its former royal palace with its loch and surrounding parkland.

      ~~A striking landmark~~

      The remains of the noble building reflected in the loch form a striking landmark. The sight became clearly visible to travellers when the road was opened overlooking the area in the early 1970s. Prior to that, travellers' views were mainly to be had from the railway and the Union Canal on the other side, to the south, as the main road originally passed at a lower level through the Royal Burgh itself.

      This brief review focuses on the site of the Palace and its picturesque environs: the 'Peel' parkland and loch. The 15th century St Michaels Parish Church, which is immediately adjacent, almost certainly merits a separate review.

      ~~A great place to visit~~

      Linlithgow Palace is probably best known as the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots and its history is well documented in print and online. Some key milestones and references are provided below for further information. Meanwhile, suffice it to say that its royal origins have been traced back some 900 years.

      Since we moved to Linlithgow over thirty years ago, the Palace/Peel has been one of our favourite haunts, along with the nearby Beecraigs country park, Kinneil Estate, Muiravonside and Callendar Park, which I've also reviewed recently. Promoted as 'a great place to visit', it's also worth revisiting, as we do regularly!

      The Palace is open to the public all year round. The property is in the care of Historic Scotland who describe it as the 'pleasure palace of the royal Stewarts'. There is normally an entrance fee, but access to the Peel is free of charge.

      Interestingly, when our daughter was at primary school in the '80s, some of her fellow pupils acted as Palace guides. The headmaster also happened to be a well-known local historian. (See Hendrie, below)

      ~~An ancient royal residence~~

      While I don't propose to duplicate the excellent historical information which you can find from the websites and sources listed below, it is worth noting the main highlights:

      * First royal residence built on site by King David I [of Scotland], 12th Century
      * Reinforced by Edward I of England, 14th Century, following occupation
      * Severely damaged by fire, 15th Century
      * Current building started by James I [of Scotland] in 1424
      * Mary Queen of Scots born here, December 1542
      * Largely destroyed by fire 1745

      ~~Features~~

      Although the Palace was left roofless by the fire, it is still an imposing structure, both internally and externally. The preserved ruins retain a noble presence and several impressive architectural features, notably:

      * Oriel windows - magnificent frameworks visible from inside and out
      * Great Hall - roofless but still grand
      * Multi-tiered fountain in the main courtyard
      * Stone sculptures - carved figures in several locations

      Fortunately enough remains of the building to convey an impression of its original character. For me, it has vague echoes of French chateaux and the 'Auld Alliance' (between Scotland and France). But best judge for yourself.

      ~~Visiting the Palace and Peel~~

      Access is easy from the centre of town, and Linlithgow is well connected by road and rail. Edinburgh Airport is also conveniently located just a few miles away on the main road to the capital.

      The Palace is best approached on foot from the cross (town centre) via the short uphill lane that leads up to the main archway and gatehouse, past the entrance to St Michael's Church. There is a small two storey car park to the left, near the foot of the lane. (Pay at ticket machine). The last time I passed this way towards the Palace I made a mental note to have a closer look at the wall on the right with its record of royal lineage...

      The Peel is accessible from several points on either side of the loch, with free parking generally available via The Vennel (lane), off the High Street, just to the east of the town centre. A further free car park can be reached from the Bo'ness road. Pedestrian access is possible from numerous points.

      According to Historic Scotland, the loch has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest thanks to its wildfowl population. I'd recommend following the footpath all the way round, time (and fitness) permitting. The views of the Palace and church from the north side are particularly worthwhile.

      ~~Other amenities~~

      * Children's play area
      * Toilets
      * Angling and boating on the loch (by permit)

      ~~Nearby attractions~~

      * Annet House Museum
      * Linlithgow Canal Centre
      * Beecraigs Country Park
      * Blackness Castle

      ~~Verdict~~

      A great place to visit between Edinburgh and Stirling.

      ~~Footnote: 'Peel' definition~~

      According to the Online Scots Dictionary, the first definition of 'peel' is 'A stockade, a fortified tower.' This was most likely the original usage, relating to the first building. Nowadays, the term is used in this context for the park surrounding the Palace.

      ~~Related resources and links~~

      Print publications:

      Slezer, John.Theatrum Scoti : containing the prospects of Their Majesties castles and palaces : together with those of the most considerable towns and colleges, the ruins of many ancient abbeys, churches, monasteries and convents, within the said kingdom : all curiously engraven on copper plates, with a short description of each place
      London : Printed by John Leake for Abell Swalle ..., 1693.

      Collie, James. The royal palace of Linlithgow, illustrated.
      London [1840?].

      Waldie, George. A history of the town and palace of Linlithgow : with notices, historical and antiquarian, of places of interest in the neighbourhood.
      Linlithgow : A. Waldie, 1868.

      Richardson, J. S. Linlithgow Palace, West Lothian
      Edinburgh : H.M.S.O., 1948.

      Pringle, Denys. Linlithgow Palace : a historical guide to the Royal Palace and Peel
      Edinburgh : Historic Buildings and Monuments : H.M.S.O., 1989.

      Hendrie, William F. Linlithgow : six hundred years a royal burgh
      Edinburgh : J. Donald, 1989.

      Hendrie, William F. Linlithgow
      Stroud : Tempus, 1999.
      [With grateful acknowledgements to Edinburgh University Library for bibliographic details]

      Web resources:

      * Historic Scotland : www.historic-scotland.gov.uk
      * Linlithgow Palace. Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linlithgow_Palace
      * Linlithgow - a great visit : www.linlithgow.com
      * Annet House Museum : www.annethousemuseum.org.uk
      * Linlithgow Union Canal Society : www.lucs.org.uk

      © SteveS001, 2011. A version of this original review may be found on other review sites. [Photos on Ciao]

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      • More +
        30.10.2009 16:07
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        Brought all my memories back

        I have recently come back to writing reviews on Dooyoo after being off for a while, I have actually just noticed that all my reviews have been about places I've visited. I love writing reviews about places I've been, to give you an idea of what they are like but more for me to remind myself why I like a place so much and bring back all the memories.

        This review is about Linlithgow which is a town located in the Lowlands of Scotland, about 20 miles from Edinburgh. Linlithgow is a place close to my heart as my Mum is from there and I spent a lot of my time here when I was younger staying at my Gran's house, unfortunately since she passed away I haven't visited much but I am going to review my thoughts of the town.

        Linlithgow is quite a large town but when I was younger it always seemed like it had a great community feel with everyone knowing everyone as you walked along the street. My Gran lived about a 2 minute drive from the shops and I always knew we had arrived when I seen the canal (her house was right next to it). I always wanted to go on a canal boat for a holiday but never got the chance but now I've reminded myself of them maybe sometime next year you will get a review about that!

        There was always plenty to keep me occupied as a child and also as a teenager including the swimming pool a variety of parks and the walks by the loch which passed by Linlithgow Palace.

        The Palace is always what reminds me off Linlithgow. It's a huge palace which unfortunately is just a ruin with no roof, I don't know if you can still go in here but we were never able to go in due to it always being unsafe. Looking from the outside is spectacular enough for me though.

        I always thought that St Michaels Parish Church was part of the Palace with it's a large metal spire that glistens in the summers but I'm sure also entraps lightning in bad weather. I've never seen a building so outstanding in my whole life and I am the first to admit when I see a picture of it on the t.v or in a magazine a get a bit excited about it. It brings back all my childhood memories and really worth a visit to Linlithgow just for this.

        Within Linlithgow there is many shops to visit really too many for me to mention but there are many small businesses that you can buy small gifts and something a little bit different. There are small gift shops to buy yourself a souvenir to remind you of your trip.

        There are also many other shops which are more chain shops like Peacocks and M&CO which is great to have within the town as it saves you travelling into Edinburgh if you don't want to.

        There is also outside tennis courts so in the summer months you can spend hours here in the sun keeping fit. They are located just opposite some houses about a 5 minute walk from Tesco's. A bit of a strange place to have them if I'm honest because if you don't know the place I would say it would be difficult to find them.

        Canal Centre

        As I've already mentioned at the start of my review Linlithgow has a canal centre which is located on Manse Road. They have two boats which you can pay a small price to go on a boat trip but on between April - September.

        I would advise you to check the website to see when they have the boats running though as some months they have the boats running on weekends only. The website to check this is - http://www.lucs.org.uk/index.html

        Definitely worth a trip if you're holidaying here.

        Where to stay

        Because I've only ever stayed at my Gran's when I've been down in Linlithgow I've never had to find somewhere to stay but I am going to be a little bit biased now and tell you to give Belsyde Guest House a go.

        I was looking on the Linlithgow website at places to stay - http://www.linlithgow.com/stay.htm and came across Belsyde Guest House which is showing as a 4 star bed and breakfast and it gave me goosebumps seeing it here. Why? Because this is the house my mum grew up in.

        I have visited this B&B with my mum just to have a look around and it was a gorgeous building which is outwith the actual town in a nice country setting. Looking at the pictures of the guest house now I can see why it's 4 star accommodation and I can tell that the have updated the property so much since I last seen it.

        The rooms look absolutely stunning and very welcoming as well as looking homely. You should definitely have a look at the website as the pictures really lure you in to want to book a weekend here.

        There are several other B&B's within Linlithgow if this one doesn't suit your needs or requirements.

        Linlithgow Museum

        Linlithgow is similar to may towns and villages in Scotland that it has a lot of history, You can tell there is a lot to learn about Linlithgow with all the old buildings and there is an old feeling around the town as if you can almost sense there is history.

        If you are interested to learn more then I would recommend you visit the Linlithgow Museum which is currently run by Linlithgow Heritage Trust and it all about "The Linlithgow Story".

        Overall

        I would love to go back and visit Linlithgow just to see how much things have changed if at all. There is plenty to see and do here and with it being a short drive or train trip into Edinburgh I'm sure you'd have more than enough to do if you were there for a weekend or even a week.

        It's definitely a place that makes me smile when I think about it and even though it's a busy town it still feels like a small village to me that I would be happy to spend many weekends.

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        • More +
          28.09.2009 20:16
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          A great day out

          This is the town where I have lived the most of my life. Moved away a couple years back but only moved 4 miles along the road.

          *What and where is it*

          Linlithgow is a large town situated in the centre of Scotland, West Lothian. It is the home of around 15,000 people, I think 6 primary schools and 1 large high school that takes pupils from outside of Linlithgow also. It is an ideal commuting town as it sits between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

          History is a massive part of Linlithgow, where you will find a large Palace built in the 15th century. It is the birth place of James V and Mary Queen of Scots.

          *What's to see and do*

          Linlithgow Palace should be the first port of call. It is a large building owned by Historic Scotland and sits above a scenic loch. The building was burnt badly in the 18th century and so has no roof. All that remains is the original walls. The inside of the palace is well kept and you do get a great sense of history there. I highly recommend putting this top of your list.

          The Union Canal runs through Linlithgow and there is the chance to take a boat trip along it. You will get this at the Canal Museum and Tearoom. Right across from this building is an old Dovecot. It is an old, small building but sits at the bottom of very nicely kept gardens. Not that exciting for the kids, but they will enjoy a boat trip. It'll run past my old house.

          Annet House is a museum which displays the history of Linlithgow. It has been a long time since I have been there but it is still running strong. This also has well kept gardens in the back (where my brother used to do school experience).

          *Eating and drinking*

          There are loads of places to eat from, whether eat in or take out. You have Tesco if looking for something reputable, many many coffee shops to choose from, sandwich shops and a couple of chip shops. Some of the pubs also do lunches, The Four Mary's is well worth a visit. Has won many awards for its beer and ale's.

          *Getting there and transport*

          By far the best way of getting there is train. The main central trainline from Edinburgh-Glasgow and also Stirling-Edinburgh runs through it, with trains very regular, every 15mins or so. The M9 runs past and so getting there by car is also easy. Parking can be a nightmare though so just be warned. Once there, everything is very central so you will not need to drive or take a bus anywhere else.

          *Shopping and leisure*

          There isn't a great deal of shopping to be done in Linlithgow. The high street has very basic shops with the bulk of places actually pubs and coffee shops. There is a retail outlet on the edge of town where there is an Argos, Homebase and a few others.

          If your looking for exercise, there are many walks you can take around Linlithgow with a walk round the Loch being my personal favourite. A sports centre is on the edge of town where you can swim, hit the gym, play football, badminton, and many other sports. You need to be a member to use the gym though.

          A great day out with plenty to see and do.

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        • More +
          19.06.2008 22:12
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          Friendly people and a good assortment of pubs

          ---->Future History<----

          Linlithgow has a the claim to fame that Montgomery Scot or "Scotty" from the "original" Star Trek series, will be born there in 2222 A.D.

          Home to Linlithgow Palace the birth-place of both "James V" and "Mary Queen of Scots".
          Linlithgow was founded by King David 1st (1128-1153) as a royal burgh and a military stronghold, which after the 1314 "Battle of Bannockburn", was claimed by the Scottish as their own.

          If you are touring the Castles and Palaces of Scotland, then Linlithgow's Palace and its surroundings is a "must" as it is steeped in history, the usual; royal murders, plotting and planning, revenge etc...too much for me too try and cover.

          ---->Linlithgow Marches<----

          The Linlithgow Marches have been going strong now for 600 yrs making it the oldest parade in West Lothian, if not, the UK.
          The High Street bustles with people from mostly other towns and villages around West Lothian, I always felt there could be more done to attract a wider audience from further afield. You can catch the Marches on the first Tuesday after the second Thursday in June.

          ---->Scenery<----

          Linlithgow is surrounded by hills and farms, and to the west of the Palace, lies a loch, the Palace is one of Scotland's nicest.
          Quite bluntly, the scenery is quintessentially Scottish.
          Nearby, is a 3000 B.C Bronze Age burial ground, this is free of charge and well worth a look if you are in that general vicinity, (details below*)

          ---->Getting There<----

          A myriad of roads surround the town, both the M8 and M9 are located near-by, A roads 89, 803 and 706 will take you their, a number of B roads are also running through the town, B-9080, B-8029, B-825 and smaller single track roads make it an easy place to get too.

          ---->Parking<----

          All these roads and no-where to park makes this one of the reasons it may be left out on peoples holiday stop off's, getting parked is frustrating and when you do there is a 30 minute restriction, although a pay and display car-park is only 30 yds from the gates of the palace, it is limited to holding around 70 cars (tops), if you "are" lucky enough to get one of these spaces, take it for the day.

          ---->Useful Websites<----

          www.linlithgow.com/index.htm
          www.marie-stuart.co.uk/Castles/Linlithgow
          www.linlithgowstory.org.uk/
          www.aboutscotland.co.uk/linlith/gow.html
          *www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/ (search Cairnpapple)

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