Armadale Environment

4 November 2009




Armadale from the north-west.


ARMADALE LOCATION and Introduction

This section of the website has the general title of 'Environment'. At this stage we do not know exactly how this part of the site will evolve or what it will include. However, it will certainly include links of environmental interest and photos of locations and wildlife. The balance of topics covered will depend on the interests and contributions of our readers.

Unlike the Businesses pages, this section will include locations outside Armadale, but within easy reach by bike, usually not more than five miles away. Some topics related to the use of footpaths and bicycles will also be included in these pages.

Historic aspects of the infamous levels of pollution in Armadale and associated ill health will be described elsewhere on the site as well as the associated industrial achievements.   Also, the lives of ordinary people, many facing extraordinary hardship, will be described.

Anything relating to any current environmental  problems will be dealt with here. However, with developments over recent years, we hope to show that Armadale is very much a phoenix rising from the ashes. The rapidly improving environment is a measure of that success.

General Natural History Links
Central Scotland Forest Reforesting Scotland Scottish Wildlife Trust Wild About Britain
RSPB Scotland Scottish Natural Heritage Woodland Trust Amphibians (1)
Butterflies (1) (2) (3) Insects (1) (2) (3) Save the Bumblebee! and other bees

CSFT's 'Save the Wee Bees!' campaign

Birds (1) (2) (3) (4) sound&video
Flowers (1) (2) Trees (1) Fungi (1) (2) Water/Pond Life (small) (2)
Landscapes, Flowers, Insects and Wildlife by West Lothian Photographers
Tom Gilland      
Armadale and District:  Environment, Past and Present

THE FOSSIL RECORD   Armadale and Area


Black Moss Nature Park, which was created from derelict land in 1978, east of the pond below, was allocated over 46,000 from the Forestry Commission Scotland as part of the Woods In and Around Town Initiative.  It was hoped that the new funds would help to make the amenity more user-friendly by upgrading paths, phased felling and replacement tree planting.  Visitors to the park in 2007 will have noted a significant change to the appearance of the amenity.  Black Moss Management Group

Blawhorn Moss northwest of Blackridge, four miles from Armadale: Great views, bracing air and interesting features.  Watch the video clip of a blustery day! 94% of the UK's lowland bog habitat has disappeared since the nineteenth century, and so the Reserve is a particularly important area.  In November 2008, its significance was acknowledged when its status was extended to National Nature Reserve The Reserve Proposals for Blawhorn Moss National Nature Reserve 2009-2015

Barbauchlaw Glen and Woodend  map      aerial photo

The Glen in February

Woodend Farm and Archaeological Site

Woodend Farm

The Glen in February

Barbauchlaw Burn in Winter

Barbauchlaw Burn in Summer

Armadale Residential Gardens 2003 - 2008

West Lothian Council's Annual Gardens Competition 2003: Armadale area winners: (1) William Murphy of Shaw Avenue; (2) Nan Hendrie of Mill Road; (3) William and Mhairi Kirkwood, Blackridge Farm.

West Lothian Council's Annual Gardens Competition 2006: Armadale area winners: Congratulations to our local winners: (1) Andy Park of Avondale Drive; (2) David Reid of Westfield; (3) Robert Love of Lower Bathville.

West Lothian Council's Annual Gardens Competition 2007: Armadale area winners: Congratulations to our local winners: (1) Andy Park ; (2) Elizabeth McAlpine; (3) David Reid

West Lothian Council's Annual Gardens Competition 2008: Armadale area winners: Congratulations to our local winners

Spring 2009

Spring 2009

Spring 2009

Summer 2005

Summer 2007

Jim Ferguson's Garden

The Manse (Mrs McAlpine)

Mr and Mrs Brown's Garden

Early daffodils. January 2007

Autumn 2006

December 2006

29th December 2006: this winter has been most unusual, so far, with flowers in bloom much later than normal at our garden in east Armadale. Although looking a little battered by wind and rain, the roses still retain their leaves and some are continuing to flower.  November 2008: some roses are blooming later again, but are much more battered than two years ago.

Summer 2006

Summer 2006

Summer 2006

Summer 2006

Autumn 2006

Armadale and District Environment-linked Activities 2006 onwards

Hardhill (Millennium) Wood: From July 2006,

a SUDS programme was in operation there.  If you haven't visited recently, you will be surprised at the changes. 

map        aerial view      area

Tribute to the Scouts who planted the Wood

Click HERE for Useful Information about Hardhill Community Woodland & Bathville Junction






Work on the SUDS programme

August 2006

Looking north east from Hardhill Millennium Wood
 Armadale, February 2008 (A801xA89 Heatherfield)

Looking west from Hardhill Millennium Wood
 Armadale, February 2008

'What's on your doorstep?' Project: Blackridge Environmental Forum gained a 3,000 grant to enable a group of 15 young people from local areas such as Blackridge and Armadale to conduct educational research while they are visiting environmental sites in S.E. Scotland. 

In summer 2006, the Forum conducted a successful 'What's on your doorstep?' Project in Dunbar, home of John Muir, National Parks pioneer, and, with the help of the grant, they hope to extend their attention to a wider area in the future.  Information gathered from future research visits will form a power point presentation to local community groups and schools.

December 2007: 1st Armadale Girls' Brigade  were awarded their Community badge after working with the Wastewise Armadale project.  They had to monitor the amount of waste that was produced in their homes, and they also tried to reduce the amount of plastic bags that were sent to landfill.  They were given reusable shopping jute bags for their efforts.  Rona Gold, Environmental Education officer for Waste Management Services said that the girls had  shown 'a firm commitment to caring for the environment' and that they highlighted for their community how important it was 'to reduce the amount we waste'.

2007: Environment Fair at Armadale Academy included Trash Music and Interactive workshops run by Charmian Pollok

The Waste Wise Armadale Project 


General Links of Environmental Interest
Cycle and Footpaths West Lothian Environment Links Tourism Armadale Images
Places to Visit

Looking north from Colinshiel, Armadale

Historical Overview

Flora and Fauna of Armadale and District in the 1840s

(source: New Statistical Account of Scotland - Linlithgow, 1845)

Rarer species of plant found in the area included:

  • Paris quadrifolia

  • Adoxa moschatellina

  • Cistus Helianthemum

  • Erysimum alliaria

  • Solanum Dulcamara

  • Malva moschata

  • Orchis bifolia

  • Polygonium bistorta

  • Anthoxanthum odoratum

  • Pinguicula vulgaris

  • Senecio saracenicus

  • Hippuris vulgaris

  • Iris pseudacorus

  • Asperula odorata

  • Glycoma hederacea

  • Saxifraga granulata

  • Ranunculus ficaria

  • Linum catharticum

  • On the banks of Bathgate Water until Barbauchlaw Water, otters were seen occasionally, although they had been rather abundant a few years before. 

  • In Barbauchlaw Water, trout were plentiful and salmon came to spawn in autumn, returning in spring.

  • Rare insects that were seen in the area included the humming-bird moth and the death's head moth.

  • A nest of grasshopper warblers was found in the Bathgate Hills.

  • In 1834, a nest of siskin was found in a spruce fir in the middle of a hawthorn hedge, about 5 feet from the ground.  They fed on the ripe dandelion seed, and, in winter, knapweed seeds.

  • A frequent winter visitor was the kingfisher, which, in harsh winters, resorted to seeking its food almost under the wheel of a mill, despite constantly passing pedestrians.

  • Night-jar or fern-owl.

  • Considerable numbers of crossbill who fed on larch seeds, which they obtained by separating scales of the cones.

  • The european dipper and the sandpiper liked to build on the banks of Barbauchlaw Water.

  • A few pairs of ringouzel bred every year on the rocky ground on top of the Bathgate hills.

  • The black-headed gull, the coot, the gallinule or water-hen and wild-duck liked to breed on the banks of Balbardie Loch and Bathgate Water.

  • In the same areas were observed in autumn and winter: redshank sandpiper, heron, teal, wigeon, crested grebe, little grebe and bittern.

  • Occasional sightings were made of the great cinereous shrike, the ruff and the kite.  There were single sightings of golden orioles,  and turtle dove (which had been killed).

  • Game birds: black and red grouse; pheasant and partridge; large flocks of golden plover in winter; dotterel in April and May; quail.

  • Birds which traditional bred in the area included: common snipe, curlew and lapwing.

  • Winter visitors also included: woodcock, jack-snipes, fieldfares, redwing, snow-bunting, mountain finches and starlings.

  • Regular summer visitors included: spotted fly-catcher, redstart, wheatear, whinchat, sedge warbler, black-cap warbler (rare), greater and lesser pettychaps.

  • There were 2 rookeries in the area: a large one in the wood near Balbardie House and the small remains of a large one on the Boghead Estate.


  • Pastoral rather than arable farming. As a result, dairy farming is particularly successful in this area.

  • There were few sheep and the only pure breed of cattle was the Ayrshire, mixed breeds being more commonly kept.

  • Resident farm owners and their tenants had drained and improved their land considerably, with more limited improvement to farm buildings.

  • Mr Weir Snr of Boghead had been the most extensive improver of land. In 20 years he had planted 86 acres.

Birkenshaw Farm from below Drove Road


Cambridge County Geographies: LINLITHGOWSHIRE by T. S. MUIR, M.A., F.R.S.G.S., published 1912
Meteorological Data

Apart from rainfall figures, there were statistics about Linlithgowshire's climate.  Linlithgow Academy had taken readings from 1906.

1906 - 1910: average annual temperature: 46.8 F (almost identical to Edinburgh's hundred years' monthly mean temperature).  Coldest months: January followed by December and February.  A fall of temperature down to 6 F was recorded in January 1910.

1911: average summer temperature: 58 F (higher than Edinburgh's average) Warmest months: July followed by August.  90 F were reached in September 1906 and July 1911.

It was concluded that Linlithgow's temperatures were higher than further inland because it was near to sea-level, in a well-sheltered hollow, only susceptible to milder westerlies where snow-storms were never as severe as in neighbouring areas because of its situation in its particular valley.  Additionally, the meteorological station at Linlithgow Academy was situated on a thick sand-bed, which was warmer than the clay of surrounding areas.

Driest year since 1890: 1902 when rainfall was under 30inches.

Wettest since 1890: Polkemmet had 55 inches and Bo-ness almost 39inches

Muir examined the expectation that rainfall increases from the coast inland, and also towards the south-west, (the watershed between Forth and Clyde).  He stated that the average railfall at Edinburgh had been recorded as about 26 inches.

He found that Polkemmet meteorological station, at 600 feet above sea level, had the heaviest rainfall of 44 inches on the average of 19 years. Bathgate's station,100 feet lower and 4 miles to the north east, recorded an average of 40 inches, and Linlithgow, at 170 feet and 5 miles north of Bathgate, had an average of 35 inches.  Less than 3 miles further north, Bo'ness had an average of 27 inches whereas Uphall, at 380 feet and 5 miles inland, had 32 inches, presumably because it was the most easterly of the stations, and surrounded by high ground to all except its east side, thus echoing the conditions of lower Midlothian..

1911: Exceptional drought and heat during spring and summer, creating worry about the level of water supplies. (At that time, Linlithgowshire had a number of small reservoirs, but the highest sizeable ones were at Cobbinshaw (c900 ft) and Corston (800 ft) in Midlothian.  Where possible, by September of that year, inhabitants left the county for cooler areas.

Flora Data

Three-quarters of Linlithgowshire was cultivated or under permanent grass.  Hedgerows and roadsides, the 3,000 acres of heathlands, and the seashore, were the source of much of his data.

  • Kinneil, near Bo'ness: the one natural copse-wood in Linlithgowshire.  Its rare plants included: Arabis turrita (tower wall cress); Arum maculatum (lords and ladies); Betonica officinalis (wood betony); Geranium phaeum (dusky crane's bill).

  • The low shoreline between Bo'ness - mouth of the River Avon: salt-marsh plants such as Isle of Man cabbage, Michaelmas daisy, sea rush and seaside arrowgrass.

  • Dalmeny - Carriden: Cochlearia officinalis (scurvy grass); golden yellow sea poppy; pink or white sea-pink (April to September); Hordeum maritimum (squirrel-tail grass).

  • Drier parts of the shoreline: Reseda alba (white mignonette); Arenaria viscosa (sandwort).

  • Woods / sandy areas:  white wood anenome; yellow lesser celandine; yellow crowfoot; wild strawberry; fragrant hairy violet; sweet violet; knotty crane's bill; large flowered St John's Wortumbelliferous jagged chickweed.

  • Bo'ness: dewberry

  • Linlithgow loch and smaller expanses of water: reeds and rushes; water-lilies, white and yellow; pond-weed and duck-weed, including gibbous duckweed;  alternate flowered milfoil; the water soldier; flowering rush; cat's tail; unarmed hornwort.

  • River banks and bogs: Nasturtium sylvestre (creeping yellow watercress); Anagallis tenella (bog pimpernel).

  • Cultivated fields (summer and autumn): scarlet poppies; yellow mustard.


  • Common: oak, birch, chestnut, beech, yew, fir and larch.

  • Dalmeny woods: wild pear and crab apple

  • Hopetoun Estate: avenue of beech trees: cedars (planted 1748); sweet chestnut; silver fir, tulip trees; hemlock; spruce; plane.

  • Linlithgow Palace: avenue of remaining oaks thought to have been planted in reign of James I as an accompaniment alongside the then main entrance).

  • Botanic garden (1000 plants) of Patrick Murray, Baron of Livingstone: at his early death, Sir Andrew Balfour took the collection to Edinburgh to form the city's first Botanic Garden.

Fauna Data

He estimated about 4,000 species of animal in the Linlithgowshire area.

253 species of birds recorded in the Forth area:

  • Swans and Canadian geese: Linlithgow Loch

  • Large number of starlings: Cramond Island

  • In the last Statistical Account for the area: pheasant; partridge; woodcock; snipe; wild-duck; cuckoo; blackbird; wood-pigeon; missel -thrush; crested lapwing; grey plover; waders.

143 species of fish recorded in the Forth area:

  • Trout: Almond, Avon, other rivers

  • Eels: Linlithgow Loch (popular for royal menus, e.g. during Alexander III's reign, the sheriff took about 800 from the waters annually)

  • Pike, perch and newly introduced dace: Linlithgow Loch

  • Rare: power cod; a sting ray once caught at Queensferry!

  • Cod: at particular seasons on coastal mud banks

  • Salmon: net caught (1893 a salmon net at Bo'ness contained a sword-fish 8 ft 2 ins long with a 'sword' of 2 ft 5ins!)

3848 species of insect recorded in the Forth area, including 13000 species of beetle and a growing number of butterflies (as a result of increase in coal and shale mining?).

9 species of false scorpions recorded in the Forth area, 8 of them in West Lothian, particularly chernes dubius.

 243 marine and 96 fresh-water species of molluscs.

50 species of sponges.  Some which are fresh-water were found in the Union Canal.

A few common varieties of jellyfish and sea anenomes.  (Sir John Dalyell at Binns kept a sea anenome called 'Granny' which died in 1887 at the age of 66.)

34 species of star fish, sea urchin and sea cucumber.

The Norway rat exterminated native rat.

Wild cat, marten and polecat: extinct

Hares and rabbits; weasels and stoats: numerous

Fallow deer: Hopetoun Park

Foxes: hunted on a smaller area than when The Linlithgow and Stirlingshire Hunt was founded about 1775.

Badger: introduced to Dalmeny estate in 1889 by Lord Rosebery.

Occasional seals, porpoises and 'stray' whale