- Distance: 14 miles
- Time needed: 1 - 2 hours
- Classification: Easy
- Type: mixed, tarmac surface
- National Cycle Network Route: 75
- Cycle hire: Hooked on Cycling, Bathgate, tel: 01506 631919
- Access: Train stations at Airdrie, Caldercruix, Blackridge, Armadale and Bathgate
- PLEASE NOTE: Check our Route Closures and Diversions page for issues on Route 75
Network Rail took ownership of the old Airdrie to Bathgate railway line in July 2008. The original cycle path closed on 19 October 2008 to allow construction of the new railway line which opened on 12 December 2010.
The high quality replacement path built by Network Rail mostly runs alongside the railway between Plains and Bathgate, with a few short sections on minor road through settlements. Between Drumgelloch, on the east side of Airdrie, and Plains, the route uses a shared-use path alongside the A89.
If starting from the west, cross the car park at Drumgelloch station and turn right onto Katherine Street and left up to the A89. Turn right alongside Katherine Park and cross the road to join the shared-use path alongside the road. This takes you all the way to Plains, where there are a variety of shops, and then on to Ford Bridge, where a new wooden footbridge takes you directly onto the traffic-free path, avoiding the narrow crossing on the road bridge.
The railway path continues to Caldercruix, where there is a short loop on road past the train station and then a crossing of the B825. This takes you onto one of the most scenic sections of the route along the southern shore of the Hillend Reservoir. The Airdrie & District Angling Club is a nice place to stop for drinks and snacks - look out for the Calor Gas Fishermen standing sentinel nearby!
The path carries on across open country. This is the Central Scotland Plateau which has fine views to either side. This area was once a major producer of coal and shale oil and old maps show the network of railway lines that used to transport goods from the mines. James 'Paraffin' Young, who discovered how to extract mineral oil from coal and shale, had set up the world's first oil refinery in Bathgate by 1851. There has been much work done over the years to reforest the area, but there are still signs of the industrial heritage.
About half-way along the route you pass Blackridge. Note that there is no direct access to Blackridge station from the path - in fact, you can't even see it as the path loops to the south round an old coal or shale bing! To reach the station, turn left at the road crossing (B718), go under the railway and up to the A89. Turn right and after less than half a mile, turn right again.
Continuing on Route 75 takes you to Armadale where the route loops round the station on shared-use paths (NOTE: this area is under development (2015), so it may be necessary to cycle on the road for a short distance.) When you come to a large, ramped bridge over the railway line, you know you are approaching Bathgate. On the outskirts of Bathgate, Route 75 turns sharp right. To go into the centre of the town, carry straight on, cross the wooden footbridge near the supermarket and follow shared-use paths to a roundabout and go straight up Whitburn Road (B7002). If you want to reach the station, turn right at the roundabout and at the next roundabout (by the supermarket and with the Poured Metal sculpture in its centre), turn left and and after a few hundred metres take the right fork leading to the golf course (humps). Turn left through the narrow tunnel under the railway - watch out for cars. The railway station is to your right at the top of the slope.
Bathgate used to have a lot of heavy industry, but the coal industry declined sharply in the 1960s. If you carry on Route 75 towards Edinburgh, you cross the now pleasantly redeveloped site of the British Leyland factory which closed in 1986. The Poured Metal sculpture in Bathgate marks the site of the steel foundary.
Many of the artworks on the original Sculpture Trail could not be retained when the railway and path were rebuilt, but you can still see the Sun Dial at Drumgelloch (some distance from the path near the railway line), the Steam sculpture, the Legs at Caldercruix, the Calor Gas Fishermen at Hillend Reservoir, the Fibonacci Tower (pictured) and the Bathgate Face - an earthwork at Guildiehaugh by the side of the path as heads east out of Bathgate towards Livingston.
Things to see and do
Map shows the National Cycle Network and local routes in this area.
This fine tarmac path between Airdrie and Bathgate runs beside the new railway, along the shore of the Hillend Reservoir and has fine views over the central plateau of Scotland. It passes through Plains, Caldercruix, Blackridge and Armadale. Sculptures along the route reflect the rich industrial and railway heritage of the area.