West Lothian’s sleeping giants: wastelands that shivered into life
A legacy of Scotland’s shale oil industry, these once barren spoil heaps now provide a refuge for rare wildlife – and a sense of hope for the future
Fifteen miles south-west of Edinburgh, a knuckled red fist rises from a soft green landscape: five peaks of rose-gold gravel stand bound together by grass and moss, like a Martian mountain range or earthworks on the grandest of scales. They are spoil heaps.
Each peak rises along a sharp ridge from the same point on the ground, fanning outwards, in geometric simplicity. Along these ridges, tracks once bore carriages aloft, carrying tons of steaming, shattered rock: discards from the early days of the modern oil industry.