Livingston is a large town in West Lothian in the central belt of Scotland, built as a "New Town" from 1963.
In the 12th century a Flemish man, De Leving, built a fortified tower (long gone) and the settlement of Levingstoun or Livingston grew up around it. In the 19th century, West Lothian became urbanised when the shale oil industry developed, but the Livingston area remained farmland until the 1960s. Then five "new towns" were built rapidly to relieve congestion in Glasgow, four of them on greenfield sites (East Kilbride, Glenrothes, Cumbernauld and Livingston) while the fifth was built onto the existing town of Irvine. Livingston was laid out on a grid, with A899 running north-south and A705 running east-west, and a chequerboard of residential estates. These include Livingston Village, Bellsquarry, Craigshill, Howden, Dedridge, Ladywell, Knightsridge, Murieston, Adambrae, Deans and Eliburn. The town has expanded to engulf Polbeth, West Calder, East Calder, Mid Calder, Uphall and Pumpherston, and the population is some 56,000. It was run by a development corporation (a "quango") until 1997 then local government transferred to West Lothian; Robin Cook was its MP from 1983 until his death in 2005.
The M8 (Edinburgh-Glasgow) runs to the north of Livingston and the usual approach is to exit at jcn 3 and turn south onto A899. Otherwise follow A71 which runs south of town.
Lothian Country Bus X27/28 runs daily from Edinburgh every 30 mins via Heriot Watt University at Riccarton to Livingston, taking an hour, and continuing to Deans and Bathgate. Bus 287 also plies between Livingston and Bathgate; change there for Bus 29 to Falkirk.
First Bus 600 runs from Edinburgh Airport every 30 mins via Ratho, Newbridge, Kirkliston, Winchburgh, Broxburn and Uphall taking an hour to Livingston, and continuing to Whitburn.
Stagecoach Fife X51 runs hourly from Glasgow Buchanan station to Livingston, taking an hour, and continuing via South Queensferry and over the Forth bridge to Dunfermline, another hour.
Blue Bus 77 runs M-Sat every 2-3 hours from Lanark, taking 40 mins.
Livingston 1 bus terminal is on Almondvale Ave between the two main shopping centres.
The basic assumption of a 1960s New Town is that everyone should drive, and railways are old hat. So the town straggles between two railway lines, neither particularly convenient.
2 Livingston North is next to Carmondean Shopping Centre between Eliburn and Deans. It has trains from Edinburgh every 20 mins via Haymarket, Edinburgh Park and Uphall, taking 20 mins. These continue west via Bathgate and Glasgow Queen Street (50 mins) to Helensburgh or Milngavie.
3 Livingston South is by the Murieston shops and has trains from Edinburgh every 30 mins via Haymarket, Slateford, Kingsknowe, Wester Hailes, Curriehill and Kirknewton, taking 30 mins. These continue through West Calder, Shotts and a dozen other halts, taking up to an hour to reach Glasgow Central.
SD Travel Bus 31 runs hourly from Livingston to Linlithgow and Torphichen, continuing to Bathgate. There's no bus along the lane to Cairnpapple Hill but it's an easy bike ride.
- 1 Almond Valley, Millfield EH54 7AR, ☏ . Daily 10:00-17:00. Mostly for pre-teens, with museum, farm and narrow-gauge railway. Rides & slides & animals. The railway is 762 mm gauge, hauled by a rinky-dinky industrial diesel, and runs weekends April-Sept plus daily in summer school holidays. Adult £9.50, child £7.50.
- 2 Cairnpapple Hill, 3 miles north of Livingston, is a 4000-year old ritual complex with Bronze Age and early Christian tombs. The burial chamber has been roofed over by a modern concrete dome but you can shimmy in. It's open daily April-Sept 09:30-17:30, adult £6.
- 3 Torphichen Preceptory, 3 miles northwest of Livingston, has been a religious site at least since the Bronze Age. In medieval times it was a base for the Knights Hospitaller of St John of Jerusalem, providing shelter and treatment for pilgrims. In 1298 Edward I of England was injured by his own horse before the Battle of Falkirk and was treated here. It's open daily April-Sept Sa Su 13:00-17:00, adult £2.
- Walk the Almond Valley. The best of it is downstream: use the car park on Pumpherston Rd (by the bottle bank) and follow the riverside trail. From the weir this follows a feeder sluice to the Union Canal, which spans the valley by an impressive aqueduct.
- 1 Deer Park Golf and Country Club, Golf Course Road EH54 8AB, ☏ . Daily 06:30-21:30. Country club with spa, swimming pool, ten-pin bowling and golf course: yellow tees 6193 yards par 72. 18 holes £15 pp.
- 2 Escape Livingston, 11 Beveridge Square EH54 6QF, ☏ . F-Su 10:00-22:00. Escape games: teams of 2 to 12 are locked in a room and have to solve a series of riddles, clues and puzzles to escape within the hour. £35 for 2, £42 for 3, £48 for 4, £55 for 5 and £60 for 6.
- Watch football (ie soccer) at 3 Livingston FC, Almondvale Stadium, Alderstone Rd EH54 7DN. They play in the Scottish Premiership, the top tier of Scottish football. Their home ground is the 9000-capacity Almondvale Stadium aka "Tony Macaroni Arena".
- Vue Cinema is a multiplex in the main shopping mall at Almondvale Ave.
- West Lothian Highland Games are held on the last Saturday in May in Meadow Park in the nearby village of Bathgate. The next event is expected to be on Sat 29 May 2021 but tbc.
The core of Livingston is an extensive shopping area, bisected by Almondvale Avenue. The area east of the avenue is Livingston Centre and has more eating places. West side is the Designer Outlet; Vue Cinema is here. Together they have over 250 stores, generally open M-W F 09:00-19:00, Th Sa 09:00-20:00, Su 10:00-18:00. These 250 are relentlessly the same as each other and as any other retail unit in the country, not least by lying empty: as of mid-2019 only about half the units are occupied.
There's no stand-out, but lots of budget places in the main mall of Almondvale, with others in the villages of Uphall and Mid Calder.
- La Vita Viva, 35b Main St, Mid Calder EH53 0AN, ☏ . M-W 12:00-14:30 & 17:00-21:00, Th-Sa 12:00-22:00, Su 12:00-21:00. Small restaurant with good selection.
- Tony Macaroni, The Hub, Almondvale Cres, Livingston EH54 6QX, ☏ . M-F 12:00-21:30, Sa Su 09:00-21:30. Large Italian restaurant on two levels.
- Sapphire, Units 2 & 3, Bankton Centre, Murieston (next to South rwy station), ☏ . Daily 16:30-23:00. Basic Chinese, eat in or takeaway.
- Imperial Palace, 14 Marrfield Terrace, Uphall Station EH54 5PY, ☏ .
- Khushis, 15 Bank St, Mid Calder EH53 0AS, ☏ . Su-Th 16:00-22:00, F Sa 12:00-23:00. Cheap and cheerful place, byob.
- Zaika, 1 Follyburn Place EH54 6BF, ☏ . Daily 16:30-22:30. This is nowadays just a takeaway.
- Frankie & Benny's, Unit 10 Dedridge N Rd, Livingston EH54 6XG, ☏ . Su-Th 09:00-21:30, F Sa 08:30-23:00. Budget chain eatery.
- Brucefield Farm (The Carvery), Brucefield Industrial Estate, Rutherford Square EH54 9BU, ☏ . M-Th 09:00-23:00, F-Su 08:00-23:00. Family-friendly carvery, does takeaway.
- Lime Kiln (aka Hungry Horse; formerly The Granary), Almondvale Boulevard EH54 6QT, ☏ . Daily 09:00-10:00. Family-friendly but erratic eating place.
- Beefeater Restaurant & Pub is within the Premier Inn at M8 jcn 3, open daily 07:00-23:00.
- 1 Livingston Inn, 2 Main St Livingston EH54 7AF, ☏ . Su-Th 12:00-23:00, F Sa 12:00-00:00. Pleasant old pub with food, has rooms.
- Harvester on Almondvale Ave is a chain pub with food open daily 09:00-20:00.
- The New Year Field, Unit 1, Livingston Designer Outlet, Almondvale Avenue EH54 6QX. Daily 08:00-00:00. JD Wetherspoons pub with food
- 1 Linwater Caravan Park, Clifton Rd, East Calder EH53 0HT (3 miles east of Livingston), ☏ . Park for touring caravans, motorhomes and tents, open all year. Two-person tent £20.
- 2 Premier Inn Livingston, Deer Park Drive Livingston EH54 8AD (at jcn 3 of M8), ☏ . Reliable budget chain with 74 rooms. B&B double £80.
- 3 Livingston Lodge Hotel, Hawk Brae Livingston EH54 6TW, ☏ . Decent mid range place. Room only double £70.
- 4 Macdonald Houston House, Uphall EH52 6JS (A899 two miles north of Livingston), ☏ . 3-star hotel, 71 rooms. 16th century manor house set in 20 acres of gardens & woods. B&B double from £120.
- 5 Best Western Hilcroft Hotel, East Main Street, Whitburn EH47 0JU (A705 eight miles west of Livingston), ☏ . Clean comfy modern hotel with 32 rooms. B&B double £75.
Good signal everywhere. The larger pubs and hotels have free wifi.
- Edinburgh and Glasgow both rate as must-see.
- Linlithgow has an impressive ruined medieval palace, birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots, and the coast is attractive around Blackness Castle.
- To discover if they made a better job of Scotland's other four New Towns, see East Kilbride, Glenrothes, Cumbernauld and Irvine.
|Routes through Livingston|
|Glasgow ← Coatbridge ←||W E||→ junction → Edinburgh|
|Kilmarnock ← Motherwell/Carluke ←||SW E||→ West Edinburgh → Edinburgh City Centre|