I often joke that Mary Queen of Scots is my next door neighbour. Pretty much on my doorstep I have the delights of Craigmillar Castle Park, home to (as the name aptly suggests) Craigmillar Castle, which was once home to one of our most iconic historical figures.
But I’m not going to go on too much about it. Not right now, anyway. Even though it is a fairly major landmark, Craigmillar Castle Park has great deal more to offer than just the castle itself. Here, you’ll also find curious winding trails, a huge variety of wildlife and a pretty sweet play park.
Situated around 3-4km south of the city centre, this park doesn’t attract as many visitors as its big brother, Holyrood Park, but it is still certainly worth a trip.
The park itself is located on a small ridge, so you can get some really nice views of Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh Castle and the city centre. It’s a great place to get some interesting panoramic shots, and you’ll also avoid the tourist crowds.
Wildlife at Craigmillar Castle Park
Whether you enter the park via Old Dalkeith Road in the west or Craigmillar Castle Gardens to the south, you’ll be greeted with a sign that will explain all the wildlife that you can find in the park. Craigmillar Castle Park has lots of flourishing woodland and grassland, so it is a great place to see some wee cute animals.
I’ve been through the park many times over the years, and during that time I’ve seen lots of creatures scuttling around, mainly rabbits and magpies. However, I’ve also spotted buzzards, foxes, pheasants and once I even saw a deer! Combined with the castle in the background, you get the feeling you’re wandering around in a Disney movie.
Even with the woodland and the fascinating wildlife, there’s no doubt that Craigmillar Castle is the star of the show. Located on a small hill and in front of a large open clearing, it’s pretty hard to miss it when you’re walking around the park.
While the castle itself is owned by Historic Scotland and there is an entry fee to get in, you can still wander around the large clearing to the front and get some spectacular pictures of outside of the castle itself.
The play park
Craigmillar Castle Park is a maze of tracks and trails, and it actually took me the best part of a year to find this hidden gem. With wooden bridges, rope webs and big awesome slides, this is an incredible place to take the kids for an hour or two.
I’d love to have a go, but unfortunately it’s not really socially acceptable for women in their mid twenties to be playing in play parks 🙁 I’ve promised myself that if I ever come across it when it is empty, I’ll have a go. However, every time I walk past there’s always lots of kids playing in it. A testament to its popularity for sure, but it means I am still waiting for my turn! One day…
Walking around Craigmillar Castle Park
Craigmillar Castle Park is a great place for walkers. There aren’t many challenging climbs in this park, at least not by Arthur’s Seat standards anyway, but there are lots of winding trails that are bound to keep you exploring, at least for an hour or two.
The landscape in this park, despite being relatively small, is quite varied. You could be walking through a dense forest one minute, only to be greeting by an expansive open clearing the next.
Entry to Craigmillar Castle Park is completely free of charge, so if you are lucky to catch a sunny day in Edinburgh, a wander around here is the perfect way to spend it.
There are two ways you can get into the park: either off Old Dalkeith Road to the west, or Peffermill Road to the north. You can get the 21, 33, 38 or 49 bus to the former, or the 2, 14, 21 or 30 to the latter.