Polmont is a village five miles east of Falkirk in Stirlingshire in central Scotland. It's mainly a commuter village for Edinburgh and Stirling.
Grangemouth just north is a busy port and petrochemical town, also described on this page.
Polmont had a population of 5040 in 2020. The name derives from Gaelic Poll-Mhonadh, "pool of the hill", and it was a small farming settlement on the coast-to-coast lowland route. The Romans had marching camps here as they campaigned against the Picts, and later built the Antonine Wall. The railway and the road to Stirling and the Highlands also came this way. Not much happened in Polmont until the 1970s, when it was developed as a commuter town and grew to its present size.
Grangemouth had a population of 16,120 in 2020. It began as a tiny port at the outlet of the Grange Burn, expanding from 1768 when the Forth and Clyde Canal established its east terminus here. As well as canal traffic it handled coal and iron exports from central Scotland, and imports of Scandinavian timber. The harbour was poor compared to Leith, but closer to the mines and foundries and charging lower harbour fees. From mid-19th century Grangemouth handled oil and petrochemicals: the shale-oil industry of West Lothian collapsed once cheap imports arrived from Arabia and Persia, but the workforce had relevant skills. This grubby town also produced most of Scotland's soap. Distillers set up in business, to discover that heating oil and petrol were even more lucrative than whisky.
Grangemouth Refinery was created in 1924 to process Arabian crude oil, and the owners Scottish Oils eventually became part of British Petroleum, nowadays BP. In the 1950s a 58-mile pipeline was built to Finnart on the west coast near Garelochhead. Initially this brought in crude oil from a tanker terminal for refining here, and later a reverse pipe was built for refined exports. In the 1970s Britain developed oil and gas fields in the North Sea, and in 1975 a pipeline opened from Forties offshore oil field to Kinneil near Grangemouth. These assets are nowadays owned by Ineos, which in turn is 50% owned by China. The vast industrial complex dominates town, with its metal towers and flares and snaking pipes. It's in gradual decline as vehicles and other processes switch to electric power.
Edinburgh Airport (EDI) is 17 miles east. Take the tram to Haymarket then train towards Glasgow for Polmont.
Glasgow Airport (GLA) is 36 miles west, far side of that city. Take the airport bus to Buchanan station then the train from Queen Street towards Edinburgh for Polmont.
Trains from Edinburgh run every 15 min via Haymarket and Linlithgow to Polmont (25 min) and continue west via Falkirk High or Grahamston to Glasgow Queen Street (another 35 min). Trains from Edinburgh to Stirling and Dunblane don't stop in Polmont, change at Falkirk Grahamston.
1 Polmont station is half a mile south of the village centre and two miles from Grangemouth. It has a staffed ticket office and machines, toilets and a waiting room. There are steep ramps from Station Road to both platforms.
From Edinburgh follow M9, from Glasgow follow M80 onto M876 then M9. Use Jcn 4 for Polmont village, Jcn 5 for the hotel strip and Jcn 6 for Grangemouth.
Cyclists can use the canal towpath from Edinburgh or Glasgow.
Scottish Citylink Bus 909 runs every two hours from Edinburgh, taking an hour via the airport and Bo'ness to Grangemouth, and continuing to Stirling and Bridge of Allan. From Glasgow take the bus to Falkirk and change.
Bus 978 from Edinburgh calls at Grangemouth towards 18:00 and heads north to Stirling, Doune, Callander, Crianlarich, Tyndrum, Lochawe, Taynuilt and Oban.
The intercity bus stop in Grangemouth is Newlands Garage, on A905 Beancross Rd midway between Jcn 5 and Jcn 6 of M9.
First Bus 1 runs every 30 min from Dunipace to Falkirk, Polmont station and Linlithgow.
McGill's Bus F25 runs every two hours from Falkirk to Polmont (30 min) and Maddiston.
The Union Canal courses from Edinburgh via Linlithgow to Polmont and Falkirk. The Forth-Clyde Canal courses from Glasgow via Kilsyth to Falkirk and the tidal River Carron near Grangemouth. They're navigable by small boats throughout and Falkirk Wheel lifts boats between the two canals.
Grangemouth Docks are busy with freight but never had ferries. The nearest marina for overnight mooring is Port Edgar in South Queensferry.
Taxi firms include Kerse Cabs (+44 1324 464999), Tartan Line (+44 800 756 3004) and Gordons (+44 1324 911442).
- 1 Polmont Parish Church is Romanesque, completed in 1845. Within the churchyard is the ruin of its predecessor, built 1731-33.
- 2 Antonine Wall can be seen locally at the north end of Polmont Woods, with a ditch and embankment; access is by Smiddy Brae off the Polmont-Bo'Ness road. Little remains of the eastern sections of this Roman coast-to-coast defence, built 140-142 AD. There are other traces west of Falkirk, but see Kilsyth for the best preserved sections and the history of the wall.
- 3 Jupiter Urban Wildlife Centre is a brownfield re-wilded as a wetland nature reserve. It's free, but closed since Sept 2022.
- 4 The Kelpies are two huge horse-head sculptures by M9 at the edge of Grangemouth, see Falkirk.
- Grangemouth is an uninspiring late 20th century town with the oil refinery looming over it.
- 5 Almond Castle is a ruin all the more sorry for its surroundings, the brownfield site of a former brickworks. Originally called Haining Castle, it's an L-plan tower house built in the 1470s; it was extended in the 16th century but those additions have been lost. The owners backed the Jacobites in 1715 so the castle was forfeited to the crown and abandoned. It's been teetering on the edge of collapse ever since so don't get close, one sneeze could dislodge a brick from the barrel-vault roof and bring the entire edifice down on you.
- Grangemouth Sports Complex on Abbotts Rd has a gym, fitness classes and pool.
- 1 Grangemouth Golf Course, Avondale Rd, Polmont FK2 0YA, ☏ . Parkland 18-hole course, 6432 yards off white tees, par 71. It's no longer run by Falkirk Council.
- Polmonthill Ski Centre, Avondale Rd, Polmont FK2 0YA (next to Grangemouth Golf Course), ☏ . M-F 13:00-21:30, Sa 10:00-15:00. 100 m long artificial ski slope, so it's a kiddy novice slope.
- Union Canal approaches from Linlithgow, soaring over the Avon Aqueduct to run south side of the railway. It continues west to plunge through the spooky Falkirk Tunnel and eventually reach the Wheel. It's navigable and has a firm towpath for walking and cycling.
- 2 Millhall Reservoir is open Mar-Oct for fly-fishing.
- 3 Braes Golf Centre, Manualrigg, Maddiston FK2 0lS (3 miles south of Polmont), ☏ . This is the successor to Polmont GC, which folded in 2019. It's a nine-hole course so twice around off white tees is 5989 yards, par 72.
Polmont rail disaster
On 30 July 1984 the Edinburgh to Glasgow express hit a stray cow on the line half a mile west of Polmont station. It derailed then concertinaed, killing 13 and injuring 61. The train was a push-pull, so westbound towards Glasgow it was pushed by the rear locomotive. This meant the lead coach with the driver was light and more prone to jump the tracks. Subsequently all similar vehicles were fitted with deflectors - cow-catchers - so that obstructions would be shovelled aside rather than go under the wheels.
- Polmont's main shopping area is Polmont Cross, with a supermarket, coffee shop, newsagent, butchers, laundry, fast-food takeaway and pub.
- Grangemouth ASDA is open 24 hours.
- 1 Black Bull, Main Street, Polmont FK2 0PX, ☏ . Su-Th 12:00-00:00, F Sa 12:00-01:00. Pub with a good selection of food, has rooms. Tuesday is quiz night and Saturday is karaoke. B&B double £60.
- Land & Sea Fish and Chip Shop, 20 Main Street, Polmont FK2 0PX (next to Black Bull Inn), ☏ . Daily 16:30-20:00. Deservedly popular fish & chip shop, has vegan and GF options.
- Grangemouth has Abbotsinch and Oxgang Kitchen 100 yards east of Leapark Hotel. By the docks roundabout are one Indian and two Chinese takeaways but no dine-ins.
- The Dundas at Grangemouth Docks roundabout is a lively place open M-Sa 12:00-00:00, Su 10:00-22:00.
- Black Bull (see Eat) and Claremont Inn are on Polmont Main St.
- Falkirk Distillery laid down their first whisky in late 2020, so it will go on sale in the run-up to Christmas 2023. They're behind the Premier Inn, no tours.
- 1 Inchyra Grange, Grange Rd, Polmont FK2 0YB (M9 jcn 5), ☏ . Renovated mansion and spa hotel, handy for motorway. Generally smart but some rooms look tired. B&B double £120.
- Premier Lodge: see Falkirk for this hotel at M9 jcn 6.
- 2 SGE Leapark Hotel, 130 Bo'Ness Road, Grangemouth FK3 9BX, ☏ . 50-room budget hotel, comfy and welcoming. B&B double £80.
- Helix Hotel[dead link] is a basic place on Kerse Rd half a mile west of the Leapark.
- 3 Premier Inn Falkirk East, Beancross Road, Polmont FK2 0YS, ☏ . Reliable budget chain hotel. B&B double £60.
- Travelodge, West Beancross Farm, Polmont FK2 0XS (opposite Premier Inn), ☏ . Modest budget chain hotel. B&B double £60.
- Beancross Farm Hotel[dead link] and Oyo Metro Inn are next to Travelodge.
- Weedingshall Lodges are glamping pods open all year on Old Edinburgh Rd behind the Premier Inn. Pod £160 / night.
As of Aug 2022, Polmont, Grangemouth and their approach roads have 4G from all UK carriers, and you might get 5G with O2.
- Falkirk nearby has remains of the Roman Antonine Wall, but is best known for its ingenious Wheel, a boat-life connecting its canals.
- Linlithgow has an attractive medieval castle.
- Bo'ness is a small town with a heritage steam railway.
|Routes through Polmont|
|Perth ← Stirling ←||NW SE||→ Linlithgow → Edinburgh|