Lowland League Landscapes

According to the Encyclopedia Britanicca the Lowlands – also called known as and referred to as the ‘Scottish Lowlands’ – are a cultural and historical region of Scotland.   The area historically comprised a region of Scotland southeast of a line drawn from Dumbarton to Stonehaven with the line (north-west of this) known as the ‘Scottish Highlands’.

Traditionally, the Lowlands were distinguished by the use of the Scots language in contrast to the Scottish Gaelic (a Celtic language) which was spoken in the Highlands. The Lowlands, as a cultural area includes two main topographic regions: the Midland Valley or central Lowlands and the Southern Uplands.

Essentially the Scottish Lowlands today is a region just south/north of Edinburgh and Glasgow.  The area consists of hills, county towns and moorland in the west and post industrial towns to the north many of which are located in Fife.  

A more picturesque coastline is visible to the east; an area once home to Lowland League clubs like Preston Athletic.

Moreover, while further south Hawick Royal Albert are no longer part of the Lowland league this Borders area contains ancient abbeys, stately homes, and historical castles many of which date back to the 15th Century.

In football terms the Scottish Lowland Football League (more commonly known as the Lowland League) is a football set up which operates in the Central, Fife and South western areas of Scotland.  At the moment the most northerly club in the set up are Kelty Hearts with the most southerly being Gretna 2008.

The SLFL is still a young set up only founded thanks to a unanimous vote of members from the Scottish Football Association in 2013.  Its foundation made the league part of the Scottish football pyramid making it the 5th tier of football.

Member clubs of the original Lowland League were drawn from the South of Scotland, East of Scotland and Junior Football leagues set ups.  While 17 initial applications were received to join only 12 teams were submitted at first.

The current set up (as at the beginning of the 2019-20 season) consists of 16 teams with 1 team being relegated to the East of Scotland or South of Scotland set up each season.

Like most major changes to infrastructure the initial ideas for the Lowland League was met with trepidation and caution thanks to the licensing demands.  Approval for the set up had been unanimous but many Junior and EoSFL clubs voiced fears as to the costs of progress.   These ‘costs’ included the need for acceptable standards of PA, exit signage, improved refreshment facilities, matchday programme production and availability as well as approved floodlight systems.

Despite the initial sense of caution the Lowland League has become the biggest step forward for league reconstruction in Scotland for many years. The strongest remaining resistance remains from the traditional Junior Clubs in Ayrshire. Most of these include Auchinleck Talbot whom have declared a preference for remaining in the Junior League set up at least for the time being.

Ironically, the league this season (2019-20) is dominated by the once powerful Junior football sides Kelty Hearts and Bonnyrigg Rose.   Both of these teams now aspire to emulate the successes of Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Ross County and gain full SPFL league status.

The most exciting part of the set up are the play-off fixtures.   These play offs have witnessed Edinburgh City and Cove Rangers progressing to the league at the expense of traditional sides like Berwick Rangers and East Stirlingshire.