Here are some ideas for places you can go to enjoy the Forest. If you're venturing out into the countryside always take a map with you, dress for the weather and respect other users of the countryside.
For more information on any of these activities or places use the response form.
Easter Breich was bought in 1993 by the Central Scotland Countryside Trust with the aim of creating a community woodland rich in wildlife and to offer new opportunities for recreation in the countryside.
There are three main places where you could start a walk; at Simpson Parkway at the east end of the site where there is a small car park, from Seafield in the north where a path begins from the west end of the village, or from the B7015 on the southern edge of the site where a path begins from Oakbank Cottages, Westwood. Good paths connect these areas, running alongside and across the River Almond and Breich Water and through the community woodland. There is a small picnic site in the loop in the river where the Almond and Breich meet. Circular walks are possible within either the site or using local roads and paths.
For Horse Riders
Horse riders are welcome to use the network of bridleways that cross the site. The best places to start are either at Grange Farm or at Blackburn House, both of which are riding centres. If you wish to leave a horsebox you should ring for permission in advance (Grange Farm - 01506 871219, Blackburn House - 01506 855555). Alternatively, you could start at Simpson Parkway or Oakbank Cottages, Westwood. Riding routes are marked with bridleway signs and fords have been built to allow you to cross the Rivers. Circular routes are not possible unless you are willing to ride back along the road. Use the response form to request a copy of the code of conduct for horse riders at Easter Breich.
For Bird Watchers
The Almond Pools are a great place for bird watching and it is only a few minutes walk to the pools from the small car park on Simpson Parkway. In winter, the site is used by wildfowl such as tufted duck, pochard and goosander and whooper swans sometimes visit. In summer, you might see moorhens, redshank, common sandpipers, sedge warblers and coot. For more information, contact the West Lothian Bird Club (01506 415441)
Cycle or walk the Airdrie to Bathgate Railway Path developed by Sustrans as part of a cross Scotland cycle route linking Glasgow and Edinburgh. There are many entry and exit points and a range of circular routes can be made. Horses are allowed on the section between Caldercruix and Bathgate. For a leaflet contact Sustrans on 0131 623 7600.
Barons Haugh Nature Reserve, lies about a mile to the south of Motherwell in the Clyde Valley. It is owned by the RSPB and is one of the best places for bird watching in the Forest. Paths (including disabled access) lead from the car park right around the reserve through a variety of habitats including flooded meadow (haugh), marshland, woodland, river and scrub. Bird hides have been provided so that you can get a good view of the wildlife. Look out for kingfishers, water rails, willow tits and ducks such as gadwall and teal.
A leaflet about the reserve is available form the RSPB (Tel 0141 945 5224)
This trail is approximately 12 miles long. At its eastern end the path begins at Hillend reservoir and follows the path of the Airdrie to Bathgate Cycleway (see above) to Wester Moffat. It is possible to leave the path here and walk through Wester Moffat Woods, a new native woodland owned by CSCT.
From Wester Moffat, the path follows the riverside to Calderbank. An interesting but short circular route encircles Calderbank making use of a section of the trail and a short local link path to the north of the village. Car parking is available at Faskine.
From Calderbank, the trail adopts the towpath and route of the Monklands Canal. It finishes at Summerlee Heritage Park, an award winning visitor attraction that interprets the industrial heritage of the area and includes a working electric tramway, underground mine experience and miners cottages.
There are many possible access points to the trail and local roads and paths can be used to make short circular routes.
Visit the following woods in your local area which are fully open to the public:
Visit one of the County Parks in the Forest which have a range of facilities such as visitor centres, cafes, country walks and nature trails. More details about the following Country Parks can be obtained from the relevant Local Authority.