Bathgate Hills Venture – 2022 Project Ideas & Volunteering

We are considering two projects to take forward in 2022, and would really appreciate input from anyone who would share ideas, or get involved to shape and deliver them.

Project 1 - Better signpost some existing pathways and bring the local history and nature to life

Phase 1

We would like to speak to WL Council about the car parking and paths that are already being created near the Korean War Memorial, through the land gifted last year by Andy and Elspeth Gibbs.

We would like to raise funds to better signpost existing paths between here and other nearby sites like Witchcraig, the Refuse Stone and Cairnpapple – if this is not already part of West Lothian Council’s existing plan. 

As a SCIO we believe we are well placed to apply for small grants to install better signposts on these selected and agreed existing routes.

Phase 2

We would like to create some informational webpages and videos about these areas, bringing history and nature to life, with information that is easy to find. We will add these to the Bathgate Hills website. On the hills themselves we would like to introduce a QR Code hunt similar to geocaching to make visits fun – this would link to our website information, photographs and videos.

We would also like to consider creating a first drone video of one of these locations, supported by a local musician / band – either playing in the hills or providing a musical overlay for the video.  In doing this we believe we can promote both the hills and local West Lothian musical talent.

We will also apply for funding for the creation of the informational videos and website work.  Given likely costs for these smaller initiatives, we may find appetite for sponsorship from local businesses.

Phase 3

We would like to understand where WL Council plans / funding start and stop for existing work.

As a larger third phase we would then apply for NLHF or equivalent funding to create paths on the next leg of the route, subject to landowner agreement. For new paths we would choose to skirt farmer fields as much as possible. A key priority will be to introduce safe walking for people, including families and dogs. Ideally we will avoid roads as much as we can.

We will also liaise with the HES funding team to ensure we include access to their sites if we can, so that these important historic locations can be accessed and enjoyed by more people. 

This project may be a great way to showcase what we can achieve together.

Project 2 - ‘Peaks’ challenge for runners and walkers

We would like to further develop our ideas for Bathgate Hills walking and running routes with input from local runners and walkers.

The aim is that we would design a peaks challenge, similar to that offered in the Pentlands and other locations in Scotland. The Bathgate Hills, though not hugely tall, have much to offer to walkers and runners keen to challenge themselves and tick off a few summits while enjoying stunning views.

Through discussion we need to agree whether people do this in their own time (at any point in the year)  or whether this becomes a once/twice a year public event.  Our initial thoughts are that this could take place as an annual or bi-annual event encouraging visitors to the area, and helping increase spend in the villages and towns surrounding the hills.

We need your help

We are pleased with the progress we have made, accepting that we are volunteers who are doing this alongside day jobs, families and busy lives.

We are however clear that we will need to secure more help as we move to designing and delivering projects next year. We cannot do this alone.

We aim to get more help in three ways:

      1. Secure volunteer deputies for each of us so we have more support to drive things forward.
      2. Include the cost of paid resources in our project funding bids, so that we help bring local paid roles to our projects with focused time.
      3. Build up our group of volunteers who would like to get involved in these first projects.

Our first activities over winter will be research into the history and stories of the hills, both online, in books, speaking to museums and local people. We’ll also gather photos and videos, both old and new.

If you are interested in joining us over winter, either in this research, or in shaping the design of these first projects,  then please drop us a note at bathgatehillsproject@outlook.com