Celebrating Local Greenspace at the Hermitage of Braid

Local greenspaces – nature reserves, parks, allotments, or play areas – are the green lungs for our towns and cities, and vitally important to all of us. Providing natural habitats for wildlife to flourish, space for our minds to be free from the stresses of daily life, and pleasant places to play, jog or walk the dog, these precious places make our neighbourhoods great places to live in. Scotland’s towns and cities are well-endowed with greenspaces, and Edinburgh is particularly blessed. At this time of the year when spring and winter are battling for domination, the places on your doorstep are particularly valuable, and it’s great to be able to get out for a good walk without going too far afield.

A week ago Central Scotland was basking in warm, sunny weather, as if spring had finally arrived. I was walking the Eildon Hills in the Borders, enjoying cloudless skies and endless views. There was a bank holiday atmosphere in Melrose, with people sitting in the sunshine eating ice creams and drinking cappuccinos in pavement cafes. But it was back to the default winter weather setting a few days later, and by the time this weekend arrived, there was sleet and snow forecast.

walkers at HermitageBut I really needed to get out for a walk as I spend all my working week behind a computer – so where better than the Hermitage of Braid, one of Edinburgh’s best surprises? This wooded gorge along the Braid Burn is a local nature reserve, and it’s a great place for a walk away from traffic and noise. It’s a favourite place for dog walkers, and children can learn to ride a bike on the main path or play pooh sticks over the many bridges. There’s a network of paths to explore, connecting up Blackford Hill to the north and the Braid Hills to the south. Edinburgh’s ranger service is based in the 18th century Hermitage House, so pop in to learn about the reserve and its history, and find out about the activities they offer.

This circular walk is around 5km (3 miles) and follows the Hermitage path before climbing up towards the Braid hills to afford expansive views over the city. Lothian buses 11 and 15 will take you to the Braid Burn bus stop where you can walk up Braidburn Terrace then turn right on Braid Road to the main entrance to the Hermitage. From the gate, follow paths on either side of the burn through the mixed woodlands, passing Hermitage House on the way and the Lang Linn bridge. The gorge widens out at this point. About 500m further on, cross the river and make your way up the steep gully of Howe Dean to Braid Hills Drive. At the top you can enjoy fabulous views across Blackford Hill, Arthur’s Seat and the city. Turn right and walk along the road for around 800m until you reach gates signed for Lang Linn and turn right down the path alongside a golf course. As you come into the trees again, take the path to the right between metal railings back down to the Lang Linn bridge. Then turn left and return to the start of the walk.

There’s another walk round the Hermitage and Blackford Hill here.

You can find more information about organised local walks here


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