Allandale Tarn is located in West Lothian just North of West Calder, right next to the Five Sisters Zoo Park.
Finding Allandale Tarn:
Allandale Tarn is a little of the beaten track but not that hard to find, its only about 40 minutes from Stirling or Glasgow and probably less from Edinburgh, depending where you were coming from and just outside Livingston . Its close to the westerly approach to Edinburgh Airport so you see planes arriving and leaving when this direction is in use that gives you an idea how close it is ( it doesnt shatter the peace I hasten to add, you barely notice it).
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Access road: Rough but OK- A stony track leads to the car park but should not be an issue to most cars. The access road is off a side road that also leads to Five Sisters Zoo Park. If all else fails head for the Zoo Park and you will see the old fishery sign just before the entrance, Sat Nav to EH55 8PT.
Public Transport: I doubt there will be many buses passing down the immediate access road to the entrance of the Tarn, but it may be possible to get to West Calder and geta very short taxi ride from there to the fishery.
Species: Rainbow and Blue trout all stocked.
Other Species: None known
Fly Pond: I would guess is about 6 Acres in size ( my estimate)
There is also a smaller looking bait pond behind the lodge, I beleive this can be fished with the fly too, where space permits.
The fly fishery is primarily situated round the spring fed main pond. Ther eis a smaller looking bait pond where I beleive fly an be used though there is understandably less casting room to play with. The main pond is spring fed meaning it should be very clear much of the time ( it was a little cloudy on my visit but we had had some heavy rain in the preceding days). This should also mean there is a fairly consistent temperature in the colder months of the year.
The pond is fairly oval in shape and fishing is possible most of the way round with the exception of the roadside end where bushes would impede casting from there, I would imagine this is deliberate as you don’t want anglers on the road or lines flying back over traffic. There is a small car park, I could imagine this gets a bit chocker when its busy as it had fairly limited space when I arrived and the fishery was maybe at around 50% capacity with anglers. There are portacabin toilets beside the car park which were clean and tidy.
The grounds looked very well maintained and there were nice solid casting platforms with no nasty chicken wire to snag lines. Each peg had a small woodenm stool but there were very few litter bins round the place which I was a wee bit disappointed with. The gent who was managing the place there on my visit did do the rounds and lift rubbish but on one peg I got horribly snagged up as some careless angler had wrapped nylon round the stool for some reason and it was there to be snagged on.
The lodge was a decent size and appeared to have space to sit and have lunch or a break from the sun/rain ( delete as appropriate) and the fishery looked to sell a decent selection of flies and small tackle sundries as well as the usual snacks crisps and cold drinks. I was offered a tea or coffee on arrival which was very nice.
Allandale Tarn is a Troutmasters water.
Facilities: Tea and coffee in the “shop”, a small selection of flies and light tackle is available- monofiliament etc. I beleive a small selection of rods is available for loan/hire.
I enjoyed this fishery, as it was well maintained and well presented, the staff were very helpful and chatty making me feel very welcome. The pond is fairly small and is what it is, a fairly uniform depth, spring fed trout pond, its not big enough to have many interesting features like islands, or small bays, but there were a few patches of colourful pond plants which I am sure might shelter fish. Being spring fed I can well imagine it being gin clear at times and might be a good day out in winter in particular.
Being a well established pond, it’s absolutely teaming with fly life, I observed lots of Sedge, Damsel flies, water boatmen and sundrie other aquatic midges on my visit. I would imagine on a nice summers evening there could be amazing top of the water sport.
It’s also fair to say there seemed to be no dearth of fish , as they were frequently to be seen cruising round every part of the pond, so its not understocked for sure. Most fish were in the 2 lb class, that I saw but there were a few big chaps swam by me in the 4-5lb class and I think they stock fish up to 18lbs going by the website.
In many respects it reminded me of Chirk fishery in Wales that I visited last year. As it was such a bright hot day on my visit unfortunately there was very little surface activity, but you pay your money and take your choice, its a nice wee spot and worth a visit.
Value for money: Pretty good, much the normal fishery prices, a 3 fish 4 hour ticket was £17 about the norm at current prices and in fact as I was leaving the gent said to me stay around a bit longer if you like as I only had the one fish, but I had other reasons to be heading off and didn’t take him up on the offer. They have shared tickets if fishing with kids, I would have to say they seem a little expensive given the catch limit is shared. Juniro tickets also seem a little pricey, but I guess the cost is in the fish rather than the time on site so not going to be overly critical of this.
Catch and Release Policy: Excellent, Catch and Release is allowed once bagged up and sporting tickets can be purchased from the outset. Try to avoid handling or netting fish if possible and play them hard in hot weather to get them in.
Website: Fishing reports are well out to date and the site looked a little stale to me though it is reasonably informative. I think they are relying on Facebook for fishing reports now which is a shame for non fB users. I also notice that they have used a personal account for their fB presence which means you need to add them as a friend, this is not really the way to do it they should have set up a non personal “Page” so you can simply Like the page to be kept informed of happenings.
Overall: Taking all things into consideration I would rate Allandale Tarn a very high 4. Rather than saying why its not a 5 its better to say what would be needed for me, to make it a 5. Bins around the pond preferrably one at each peg would improve the site for me, for visitors with kids I think the prices are a little expensive ( in my opinion), update the website more frequently and change your fB presence to a page. The fishery is tidy well maintained and quite pretty, on the downside it lacks interesting features but thats the price thats paid for being small, there isn’t much that can be realistically done to solve this. I imagine there can be tremendous fishing when you catch the conditions just right. Worth a visit.