Country Parks, Parks and Children's Play Parks Updates

Updated Friday 29 May 2020

Country Park Re-open

West Lothian's three country parks have re-opened on Friday 29 May in line with Scottish Government guidance.

However they are only open for outdoor leisure and exercise only, and the majority of facilities and services such as toilets and handwashing visitor centres, cafes and children play parks remain closed.

Please be aware of the changes to the parks and plan your visit accordingly within the guidelines.  You should bring what you need for your visit/exercise so you do not place additional pressures on the emergency services at this time

Car parks are open and please ensure you park responsibly. Please do not park out with the car parks, and if car parks are busy, please consider using other quieter, local parks or woodlands instead, ideally any within 5 miles of your home.

When in the parks, please ensure that you adhere to Scottish Government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene. 

You should be particularly aware of minimizing all shared touch-points such as Park picnic tables, seats and picnic tables.  You must not use disposable BBQs due to the high fire risk at this time.  

Please ensure that you help us by not dropping your waste and please take all your litter home with you. 

Facilities that remain closed at our country parks include:

  • Almondell & Calderwood Country Park - Visitor Centre, public toilets, play area and BBQ area. 
  • Beecraigs Country Park - Visitor Centre, Balvormie public toilets and play area, Sutherland Building, Animal Attraction viewing shed, BBQ area, the Beecraigs Caravan & Camping Site, mountain bike trails and Skills Area. .  The Hideaway Cafe at Beecraigs is also closed.
  • Polkemmet Country Park - the Scottish Owl Centre, play areas and public toilets. 
  • All Ranger Service events and bookings have been cancelled until further notice.

The council's Parks & Woodland team are operating on a much lower staffing level at this time, so we very much appreciate your support to ensure phase 1 of the lifting of lockdown restrictions is a success.

It is essential that everyone follows NHS Scotland and Scottish Government guidance.  Closures remain within Parks & Woodland in the best interests of public and staff health as the public health threat from Coronavirus continues.  It is vital that social distancing, keeping 2 metres apart is maintained and that where households meet with one other household per day, they do not exceed the recommended maximum of 8 people in the overall group.

Fresh air and being outdoors benefits physical and mental wellbeing, and our Country Parks are accessible to local visitors.  Although permitted to travel short distances for outdoor leisure and exercise, the advice is to stay within a short distance of your local community (broadly within 5 miles) and travel by walk, wheel and cycle where possible.  Please enjoy your local outdoors responsibly and maintain Social Distancing.

The Scottish Government guidance on access rights during the current coronavirus emergency applicable under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code continue:-

  • Stay within your local community - please make use of the paths, open spaces and quiet roads in your local area
  • Maintain your distance - please stay at least 2 metres away from other people and if possible try to avoid busy times on popular paths or places
  • Respect the health and safety of farmers and others working the land - please follow all reasonable requests and signs to avoid particular areas, such as farmyards, fields with pregnant or young livestock, and other busy working areas
  • Keep your dog under control - please put them on a lead or keep them close at heel and do not let them approach other people or livestock
  • Avoid contact - try to avoid touching surfaces and if possible plan a route that does not require you to open gates

Public Parks, Childrens Play Areas and Sports Courts

A reminder that our public parks can be used for exercise as long as the national government rules on social distancing are adhered to. Please avoid, where possible, touching potentially contaminated surfaces in public parks including play equipment, outdoor gym equipment, park furniture, handrails, gates, and signage etc.

Children's play areas, multi-use ball courts, skate parks, and outdoor gyms remain closed until further notice. Please do not use them, even if no-one else is present.
It's also important that those exercising should, at all times, continue to do so alone or with members of their household.

Any resident witnessing an issue that causes a public safety concern regarding people ignoring the national government rules on social distancing, can report such incidences to the police on 101.


Allotments

If you visit your allotment as your daily exercise, you must adhere to the rules on social distancing and hygiene. Handwashing is especially important before and after touching shared surfaces such as gates and taps. Shared indoor spaces on allotment sites should not be used, to minimise the risk of virus transmission.
The Scottish Government has published the following statement on allotment sites during the COVID-19 outbreak:

Decisions on whether or not to keep allotment sites open during the COVID-19 outbreak are currently a matter for local authorities and other allotment owners. Those wishing to access allotments should note that the Scottish Government has instructed people to stay at home. The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 prohibit any person from leaving the place they are living without a reasonable excuse, and ban public gatherings of more than two people. People over the age of 70 are advised to self-isolate.

 


Country Park Closures

The following services within our country parks are CLOSED:

  • Almondell & Calderwood Country Park - Visitor Centre, public toilets, play area and BBQ area.  As of 24/03/2020 the North car park will be closed.
  • Beecraigs Country Park - Visitor Centre, Balvormie public toilets and play area, Sutherland Building, Animal Attraction viewing shed, BBQ area and the Beecraigs Caravan & Camping Site.  As of 24/03/2020 all car parks will remain closed.  The Hideaway Cafe at Beecraigs is also closed.
  • Polkemmet Country Park - West Lothian Leisure facilities, the Scottish Owl Centre, public car parks, play areas and public toilets.  As of the 24/03/2020 all car parks will remain closed.
  • All Ranger Service events and bookings have been cancelled until further notice.

There is a need to follow national NHS and Government guidance and difficult decisions have been made to close services within Parks & Woodland in the best interests of public and staff health as the public health threat from Coronavirus escalates.  It is vital that social distancing, keeping 2 metres apart and avoiding gatherings is observed.

Please help us limit the spread of Coronavirus.  People have been asked to stay at home and travel must only be for essential purposes.

The website will be updated when a date for reopening of facilities and services is agreed.