Wander around historic Wilsontown
Attractive woodland and grassland clothe the banks of the Moosewater Burn today. But they were once covered with smoking furnaces and noisy coalmines: Wilsontown Ironworks was one of the most important sites of Scotland’s Industrial Revolution.
Along the burnside there’s an exciting landscape of rocky outcrops, knolls and hollows, and the woodland is home to birds, butterflies and wildflowers. Illustrated panels along the trails and guide to the Wilsontown Ironworks bring the bustling industrial past to life.
There are shops, places to eat and public toilets in Forth village, about ½ mile (800 metres) away.
Quality Row Trail
Explore the site of Wilsontown’s historic ironworks and the settlement where its workers lived and mined.
Wide, firm gravel surface throughout with some loose stones. Short moderate slopes but plenty of resting places. One quiet road crossing.
1 miles / 1.7 km Allow ½ hour
You’ll be walking through the heart of Wilsontown’s industry along this trail, past the site of the forge and rolling mill and the workers’ houses on Quality Row. The route also takes you through the area pock-marked with bell pit mines. The trail starts across the road from the car park and a short link path will take you to the start of the blue waymarkers.
Peat Pond Path (closed)
Please note, from Monday 23rd January until further notice this and other surrounding paths will be closed for works. For your safety please obey all on site signage and diversions.
Wander though the forest that has grown over the old industrial landscape and discover a secret pond hidden among the trees.
Wide, firm gravel surface throughout. Some sections may be slightly loose or muddy. Long moderate slope for 400m. Includes a road crossing.
1 ¼ miles / 2.2 km Allow ¾ hour
This trail starts across the road from the car park. A short link path will take you to the start of the orange waymarkers.
The Glen Trail
A short stroll through young broadleaves alongside the Moosewater Burn and passing the site of the Wilson’s grand mansion.
Uneven grassy surface with muddy parts. One short fairly steep slope.
½ miles / 0.7 km Allow ¼ hour
Look out for wildflowers like beautiful orchids in the summer.
Mountain biking trails
Brothers Robert, John and William Wilson started an ironworks here in 1779. It was only the second works in Scotland to use coke, a new super-fuel that made it far more productive than the old charcoal-fired foundries. The land around was honeycombed with simple mines called bell pits to supply the ironstone.
A village of over 2,000 people grew up around the Wilsons’ business, attracting people from all over the United Kingdom to work in the noisy foundries. Coal mining, iron-making and the workers’ village were all squeezed together into the small valley, making Wilsontown one of the most unusual and interesting industrial sites in Scotland’s history.
Major breakthroughs that revolutionised iron-making were developed at Wilsontown before the works closed in 1842. A colliery continued mining coal nearby until 1955. Today there are few signs of all that heavy industry: the old buildings were unsafe and had to be demolished, leaving flowers and trees to cover the ground.
How to get here
Turn off the A706 between Whitburn and Lanark just north of the village of Forth onto the B7016, signposted for Wilsontown. Bear left immediately afterwards and the car park is on the right, with a sign saying ‘The Glen’. The grid reference is NS 949 548.
ML11 8ER is the nearest postcode.
Buses go to the village of Forth, about ½ mile (800 metres) away. Check Traveline Scotland for details.
You’ll find more trails to explore at West Forth, and good forest trails for walking, cycling or horse riding at Fauldhouse.
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