Rio Recommends: Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill (‘The Braids’)
Edinburgh is blessed with a few nature trails and this one offers a choice of walks: up and over the hill with its fantastic views of the city and the Pentland Hills, or a more gentle walk through Blackford Glen and along Braid Burn.
My little legs were likely to struggle up that whopping hill, so we chose the roundabout route passing the picturesque pond and through some lovely woodlands. It may be less challenging than the hill, but Ma and Pa didn’t tell me about all the steps! They would make it tricky for anyone who’s not so mobile. However, at least the routes are clearly marked in red and blue, the short route taking about 45 minutes and the longer blue route an hour and a half.
The burn runs through a pretty wooded gorge. Some say there are too many dogs, but we were all having a good time! It is one place where dogs can be allowed off their lead.
There are points of interest on the way, including a visitor centre – the actual Hermitage of Braid – an ice house, a walled garden, and the doocot, the second largest example in the city, which once contained nearly 2,000 sandstone nestboxes.
It’s also popular with birdwatchers. Take your binoculars if you want to get a close up of the herons, kestrels, kingfishers, song thrush and even tawny owls.
At the end of the glen is the old gatehouse coffee shop. It allows dogs, which was just as well as we caught a shower. Some folk swear by the bacon and black pudding rolls!
The reserve has held a Green Flag since 2011 in recognition of it being a quality green space. Highly recommended.
Park at Blackford Pond on Charterhall Road and turn right, skirting the hill and passing the allotments. Walk along Burn path to gatehouse cafe and return (5/5)
Gatehouse cafe. Americano was scolding hot, but good choice of breakfast food and option of sitting indoors or outdoors. Plenty of character (4/5)
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