Not only is this town situated between Edinburgh and Glasgow in the central belt of Scotland, and on the train route between the two, it also has fantastic travel links with the rest of Scotland making it easy peasy to hop on a train and head up north. A very attractive town, the houses that line the high street date from the 1800’s and there is a distinct oldy worldy feel. Cute little independent retailers line the main street as well as local bakers, butchers, and sweetie makers meaning while you are staying there you can treat yourself to some authentic local food. Situated in West Lothian, near the border with Stirlingshire, there are lots of big attractions nearby which makes it an ideal base to stay while you explore.
Whatever your budget a stay in Linlithgow is more than possible. If you fancy getting close to nature Beecraigs Country Park has a camping and caravanning area, with hard standing pitches and electric hook ups for caravans open all year, and also a grass tent area open from April to October.
If you prefer getting cosy in a B+B, Strawberry Bank house is right in the heart of town, or Glenavon House, a large baronial style Victorian house is on the outskirts. A little further out is the Belsyde Country Estate where you can find the 5 star Arden Country House and the 4 star Belsyde House and farm.
If a self catering cottage suits you better, or if you are in a larger group the Williamscraig holiday cottages, (some have hot tubs!) or the Linlithgow cottages are ideal. Both are fantastically designed, modern and spacious.
The Star and Garter Hotel, a grand stately three floored Georgian mansion, is situated on the main High Street and not only offers 5 luxurious en suite bedrooms but also a restaurant serving delicious home cooked food. Just outside of town you can also stay in the Champany Inn. A collection of buildings, some dating back to the time of Mary, Queen of Scots, there is a luxurious restaurant, the more laid back, homely restaurant called the Chop and Ale House and 16 french inspired bedrooms with a Scottish twist.
There are many places to eat in and around about Linlithgow so no matter what you fancy, whether it be traditional Scottish fish and chips, an Italian, or a Michilin inspired fare, you will find it nearby.
Livingston’s Restaurant is hidden down an alley way off the main High Street but you will be glad you hunted for it as, with 2 AA rosettes and an impressive wine list it’s easy to forget time as you enjoy your food and the views of the wildlife near the Loch outside. Perthshire Venison is on the menu, and the likes of Trio of Scottish salmon and a “Deconstructed Cranachan”. It is situated in what used to be the old stable block for Linlithgow Palace.
In what used to be the old bakery used by the kings and queens of the palace now sits Taste Cafe and Deli. If you want to buy some traditional Scottish products to cook in your self catering cottage this deli stocks a big range from Stornoway black pudding to some of Scotland’s finest jams, chutneys and honey. Or if you can’t be bothered cooking yourself visit their cafe where they use the same ingredients but cook the meals for you.
The restaurant in the Star and Garter serves quality classic Scottish meals both for dinner and a lighter menu for lunch, and there is also a cafe for a more relaxed bite to eat.
The Four Mary’s is a traditional pub with a menu that reflects just that. A pub many locals hold dear, it’s comfortable and cosy and good if you want to wile away a few hours chatting with friends.
A must visit for anyone staying on Linlithgow is Kelly’s of Linlithgow, a sweet shop filled to the brim with a mix of traditional and modern treats. Also Sebastian Kobelt, the German chocolatier who used to work at The Kitchen and Castle Terrace in Edinburgh has now opened a small shop on the High Street, with a studio nearby. This little gem stocks some delicious chocolates as well as tarts, truffles and French inspired desserts. You can also get some amazing cakes and coffee at Caffe La Rhonda.
The stunning ruins of Linlithgow Palace is the one place you just have to visit. The birthplace of James V and Mary Queen of Scots, it seems to have been last occupied by government troops who under the lead of the Duke of Cumberland, left in pursuit of Bonnie Prince Charlie up to Culloden. Although it’s a ruin and roofless, there is a surprisingly amount of things to see. The restored fountain in the courtyard, the spiral staircases to the top of the corner towers, the dark atmospheric rooms in the basement, the views over the Loch, you could easily spend a few hours just wandering around. St Michael’s Church sits next to the palace and has an idolised aluminium crown visible for miles around.
The Linlithgow Canal Centre sits on the banks of the Union Canal and is open from April to September. You can board a canal boat for a quick town trip, a longer journey to the biggest Scottish aqueduct, the Avon Aqueduct, or even a day trip to the Falkirk Wheel. Aboard St Magdalene you can have tea, coffee and biscuits while you relax and soak up the views.
Between Linlithgow Palace and the Loch sits The Peel, named after the timber castle built by the invading English king, Edward 1. a fantastic area to see some wildlife and go for a stroll, a walk around the loch will take about an hour.
f you want to find out how Linlithgow was way back in the olden days, Annet Museum has an excellent collection of artefacts as well as a secret garden, The Rigg, which would have been used to supply the family living in Annet House. A team of volunteers maintain the garden growing the same plants and flowers that were grown in Victorian times.
If you are a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books, or the new Tv series, you are in for a treat in Linlithgow. The Wentworth prison scenes were filled in the basement rooms of the Palace and scenes were also filmed in the nearby Blackness castle. Local tours hosted by Mary’s Meanders takes you to some of the filming locations with a ceilidh on the way and perhaps a bannock and a wee dram too. They are also starting an Outlander night in the Star and Garter, and with a three course meal inspired by Outlander kitchen, A Scottish band and a Gaelic bard, you will get a true taste of how the Jacobites enjoyed their nights.
Having such good links to the rest of Scotland makes it easy to explore the rest of the country.
Edinburgh is a mere 12 miles away on the train and Glasgow is 30 minutes away. From Edinburgh you can take the train over to Fife over the iconic Forth rail bridge, then head further up to Dundee, Inverness, and Aberdeen. Take the train from Glasgow and you can visit Stirling, Perth and Aviemore. See the National Rail website for more places you can visit.
A bit closer to home you can visit Blackness Castle, which because of it’s location by the sea has a dark and menacing history. Falkirk wheel is also nearby and is one of Scotland’s top attractions. Built to link together the Forth and Union Canals this spectacular boat lift is a work of art. Standing 35 metres tall it lifts the boats from the Forth canal up onto the lift to join the Union Canal and for under a tenner you can experience it yourself on one of the boats. Stirling Castle, the East Neuk of Fife, St Andrews, and Bo’ness are all within an hours drive and of course Edinburgh and Glasgow are packed full of things to do and see.
We spent the day with Mary’s Meanders who took us on a tour of Linlithgow. We spent time on St Magdalene on the canal, visited the Palace and had a delicious buffet at the Star and Garter where we had a taster of their Outlander night, including some Highland dancers and a brilliant Scottish band, Boorach. Thanks again to Emma and Anne for a fantastic day.
To find out more about the fantastic Mary’s Meanders you can visit their website at www.marysmeanders.co.uk