Bluebell forest, 12 miles walkway along the river, babbling brooks, whimsical trees and… Scottish coos!
Most of you probably associate Edinburgh with some historical landmarks, old buildings, cobbled streets and characteristic gray sandstone architecture. Meanwhile, there are quite a lot beautiful natural locations here, which are not well known among tourists and definietely worth to see. I’d like to introduce you my 5 favourite ones. They’re all located within Edinburgh, not further than 30 minutes by a bus from the city centre.
Royal Botanic Garden
Let’s start with the most recognisable place. It’s the second oldest botanical garden in the UK, founded in 1670. The plant collection consists of more than 13,000 species! There are also two historical buildings there: The Temperate Palm House, built in 1858 (visible in the picture below) and 18th-century Inverleith House, located in the central part of the garden.
Royal Botanic Garden is open all year round, but in specific hours depending on the season. The general entrance is free, but you have to pay to enter the palm house. I can’t really recommend a specific time to visit Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, becuase you can discover something new there every season. Spring, summer and early autumn would be probably the best though.
Water of Leith Walkway
That’s the real hidden gem! Flowing for 24 miles from its source in the Pentland Hills, Water of Leith winds its way through the heart of Edinburgh to its outflow into the Firth of Forth. The walkway within the city is about 12 miles long and leads among tall trees, old mossy walls, wee glens and tall stone bridges. Let me tell you, it’s just amazing! Definietely my number one, when it comes to places for a walk in Edinburgh.
You can find few other pictures from there in this post.
Hermitage of Braid
I already mentioned it last year, so if you’d like to read a bit of history and see more photos, click here. I really love that place around the middle of April, when wild garlic is blooming. There’s plenty of it there! If you prefer to see more greenery though, I’d recommend summer. The Hermitage looks really magical then: lots of ferns all around, huge rocks covered entirely by moss, a lovely babbling brook and some whimsical trees (evidence below). I also love the wooden stairs, leading to the upper part of the forest.
Also worth to mention, that The Hermitage of Braid is connected with Blackford Hill, a great viewpoint of Edinburgh.
Dalkeith Country Park
A forest that looks like straight out of a storybook? Yes, indeed! Just imagine: lots of tiny bluebells, trees growing densely one next to another, clusters of ferns… and just around the corner, an old (troll?) bridge above a river. Dalkeith Country Park really feels like an enchanted place. And no wonder: the woodlands are hundreds of years old, with some trees over 900 years of age! It’s quite a big place too: there’s over 2,000 acres to explore. My favourite time to visit is the season of bluebells, of course. They bloom usually from the end of April till the middle of May.
Except for the park itself it’s worth to see Dalkeith Palace, build in 1711 (visible in the last picture). It’s considered to be one of the grandest early classical houses in Scotland.
Located at the south-west of Edinburgh, The Pentland Hills Regional Park offers many walking routes to choose from. A range of hills is 20 miles (32 km) long and covers an area of 35 sq mi (90 km²). That’s quite a lot, isn’t it? Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to go much further yet, basically because those beautiful creatures below took most of the time during my last visit. Scottish coos are the most adorable and I can totally recommend visiting Pentland Hills even just for them 🙂
I still have in mind some other natural places worth to visit in Edinburgh (like Holyrood Park, Cramond, Union Canal and japanese gardens), so I might prepare a second part after a while, if you’re interested. Those 5 are the biggest ones though and probably the most unique as well. Hope you liked that wee guide! Feel free to share your thoughts in comments below and also let me know, if you’d like to see more posts featuring some of my favourite places!