A natural 'crag and tail'
Binny Craig rises to 220m just over a mile North West from Uphall and offers excellent views of the Bathgate Hills and beyond.
This prominent natural landmark was carved by moving ice during the Ice Age into a ‘crag and tail’ formation, similar to the crags at Edinburgh and Stirling Castles. The crag is formed of tough igneous rock (part of the Midland Valley Sill) that was surrounded by softer sedimentary rocks which eroded more quickly, leaving the igneous rock as a prominent hill. This process was accentuated during the Ice Age when an ice-sheet moved west to east through the area. The crag offered protection to the sedimentary rocks in the lee of the ice flow and the erosive power of the ice gradually increased with distance from the crag to produce the tapering “tail”.
On a clear day, with an altitude of 220 metres above sea level, there are excellent views from the Lammermuir Hills and Culter Fell in the south-east around to Ben Lomond and other Highland hills to the north-west. You can see many prominent land features such as the local Bathgate Hills, May Island (east); Ben Voirlich, Ben Ledi and Ben More (west); Coulter Fell and Tinto (south).
Important for past centuries communication
In past centuries this was this excellent visual position, which led to Binny Craig being used as one of the chain of eminencies for communications. In the days of threatened invasion from the Spanish Armada or the English Armies, Beacons or Bale Fires (also known as bleezes), warned the approach of the foe. The type or size of the fire conveying different messages:
1 bale = Suspect enemy is coming
2 bales = Confirmed enemy is coming
4 bales = Enemy is in great force
The chain of these beacons ran from Cheviot, Hume Castle, Eggerthorp near Lauder, Soutra Edge, and Edinburgh Castle to Binny raig.
Binny Craig was also used for celebrations for Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee. In June 1897 a large bonfire was carefully constructed, on instruction from the landowner – Lord Rosebery, and a large display of fireworks donated by Lord Hopetoun and Mr Thompson of Binny was made after the bonfire was lit. Mr Stuart the schoolmaster and the Rev. Alex Shepherd the parish minister, drew a huge crowd to enjoy the spectacle and join in the singing and celebration, and managed this event.
A fairy haunt?
Rumour also has it that Binny Craig is said to have been the haunt of fairies.
We would love to hear a few fables or stories if people have them?
Enjoy a few lovely photographs
Want to learn more?
Binny Craig lies within the Oatridge Campus of the Scottish Rural College at Ecclesmachan, north-west of Broxburn.
Public access is by footpath from the minor road near East Broadwood Farm, or, with prior permission, access may be gained via the Oatridge Campus (Ecclesmachan, EH52 6HN; tel 01506 864800) where parking is normally available in the evening and at weekends [NT 045 736]..