Fossil coral, Petershill Quarry. Photo courtesy of Con Gillen

The excursion will start at Beecraigs Country Park, viewing Carboniferous limestone and a dyke. We will then visit Cairnpapple Hill, a Bronze Age burial site and viewpoint, and the Hilderston Silver-Lead mine. At the Knock – part of a quartz dolerite sill – we will view prominent features of the surrounding Bathgate Hills and Midland Valley. At Petershill Reservoir fossiliferous limestones of the Lower Limestone Formation will be examined.

Read the Code of Conduct and Safety Guidelines and book your place …

Excursion title:

Bathgate Hills

Date & time:

31st August 2019 10:00

Finish time:



Con Gillen, EGS

Excursion aims and description:

To examine Carboniferous igneous and fossiliferous sedimentary rocks in and around the Bathgate Hills, West Lothian; and to consider the legacy of economic geology in the area.


private cars; public transport by bus or train to Bathgate or Linlithgow stations and lifts to/from there. We may reduce the number of cars, as parking is restricted at some localities; volunteer drivers needed.

Meeting point:

Visitor centre, Beecraigs regional park; 10am in car park.

First locality:

Visitor centre car park; toilets and refreshments. Grid reference NT 006 746. Bring packed lunch (snacks can be bought at Visitor Centre cafe if needed, and take-away tea, coffee, etc.)

Excursion route:

1. Beecraigs Visitor Centre parking; – short walk along and across a narrow road, then descend a fairly steep narrow grassy path to old quarries – steep dip; do not enter or hammer anywhere in the vicinity. 2. Beecraigs car park – short walk along and across a narrow road close to a bend by a steep corner – great care is needed; old quarry formerly used as climbing face. 3. Cairnpapple Hill – roadside parking then walk down narrow road for 250m, then into field with footpath (1km). Examine old mine workings and spoil heaps. Care needs to be taken if there are animals grazing. 4. The Knock car park; – easy path to top of rocky knoll; then walk along road to an old quarry, then to a trig point on a nearby hill, followed by a 1km walk to old quarries; walk along a very narrow road with no footpath. Entrances to fields are by gates, easy to climb over or open. 5. Petershill limestone – edges of a drained reservoir; easy walk along a narrow path, then descend to the rocks – may be slippery after rain. (6. East Kirkton quarry Bathgate – optional / possible visit at end, but now heavily overgrown – SSSI – “Lizzie” locality).

Terrain, walking distance, height gain:

Short easy walks from vehicles to exposures. Includes finding and walking from and to roadside parking places, laybys (no footpaths). Very little height gain.

Specific or Medium- / High-Risk Hazards:

Most of the exposures are in former quarries, and care must be taken near faces. Excavations must not be entered, and care must be exercised beneath overhangs. Rocks should not be hammered, and only loose material should be examined. Fields may be muddy and grass may be slippery after heavy rain.

Control measures required to mitigate against any Hazards referred to above:

do not enter old workings

Hard hats or Hi-viz clothing needed:

hi-viz for leader and last person, when walking on roads; hard hats not needed.

May dogs be brought on the excursion?


Toilet information:

start and end at visitor centre; also in Bathgate and Linlithgow.

Geological map sheet:

32W Livingston

OS map sheet:

65 Falkirk & West Lothian


Bathgate Hills (in Lothian Geology), free to download from Earthwise BGS website. Geological sketch map and route map will be sent in advance by email to all participants.