Edinburgh’s Best Winter Walks
It’s no secret that Edinburgh winters can be long so when we have a good weather day, the city seems to comes out of hibernation. After burrowing down through blistering weather, brisk winter walks are wonderfully energising.
We’re very lucky in Edinburgh with an endless choice of beautiful parks and natural green spaces (how many places can boast a dormant volcano right in the middle of the city?!). Did you know that the Scottish capital tops the list as the city with the most green-spaces in the UK?
As the New Year takes hold, and we find ourselves facing stronger restrictions once again, it’s time to head outside for daily exercise and get some much needed fresh air. Whether you’re taking the dog for a walk, looking for a challenging hike, or just want to stroll through a park on a brisk day, you’ll find a spot in Edinburgh. Keep reading as we share some of our favourite places to venture out on winter walks.
The most westerly of Edinburgh’s Seven Hills, Corstorphine Hill is a local nature reserve, classed as a ‘Regionally Important Geological Site’ or RIGS. Its rock foundation is over 300 million years old. A mostly forested area, you’ll find lovely woodland walks here as well as beautiful views over the city. You’ll also find Corstorphine Hill Tower, a memorial to Sir Walter Scott.
While exploring this area you may see foxes, badgers and the occasional horse riders out for a hack. The terrain here is varied, with some paths offering steep ascents and descents which can be especially slippery on winter walks. It’s advised to look at the routes ahead of time to decide which path may be best for you.
You’ll find this park just north of Stockbridge and at 54 acres, it’s one of Scotlands largest urban green spaces. Inverleith Park encompasses just about everything one could want or need in a park. With its massive expanses of grassy fields, relaxing pathways, a children’s playground, an idyllic pond, a running track, tennis courts and more – it’s the ideal place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors. So pack up the kids and the dog, grab a hot chocolate in nearby Stockbridge and head to this urban escape.
The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a wondrous place, a perfect escape for anyone within the city. With 70 acres of plants, ponds, wildlife and sculpture, there is certainly no shortage of botanic delights to enjoy, even in winter. Book your free tickets online to visit. January and February are ideal for spotting Snow Drops!
Another one of Edinburgh’s Seven Hills, Blackford Hill is ideal for a visit on a snowy winters day. The stunning views over the city will captivate you, but if there is snow on the ground, keep your wits about you as Blackford Hill is popular for sledging.
The climb here isn’t too demanding but there’s no laid pathway all the way to the top, so be sure to take care, especially if it’s icy. Though hilly, the incline isn’t too steep and even the youngest walkers should be ok. It’s also a great place to take your dog for a long walk and many a happy canine can often be spotted during a walk on the hill.
Craigmillar Castle Park
Situated to the south of Edinburgh but at a slightly higher elevation, Craigmillar Castle Park offers panoramic views of the city amidst sprawling woodlands and open fields making for a lovely winter wander. In 1997 over 40,000 trees were planted here as part of the millennium forest for Scotland project, making this stunning expanse ideal for a country walk in the city.
A great place to explore with the kids, Craigmillar also has a fun playpark that will keep the little ones entertained for hours and even entice the adults to join in! While you’re there, you can explore the castle too, which was once home to the infamous Mary Queen of Scots.
The Water of Leith
We simply adore The Water of Leith. Running 24 miles through the city, the river passes through some of the prettiest parts of Edinburgh. Ideal for family walks, the paved walkways are suitable for everyone; from children to grandparents. The walkway passes many points of interest including Colinton Village and Dell, the Union Canal, Murrayfield Stadium, the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Dean Village, St. Bernard’s Well (pictured above) Stockbridge, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Leith. The Water of Leith is an ideal escape within the city, with sounds of running water and nature drowning out any city noise and it looks so pretty in the snow!
Princes Street Gardens
It may seem an obvious choice, but a list of Edinburgh winter walks just wouldn’t be complete without Princes Street Gardens. Home to the Scott Monument, the restored Ross Fountain, and endless park benches, it’s the ideal spot for a historical winter walk. You can take in the city and it’s history as you stroll from east to west (or the other way around).
Nestled below the castle, there are many hidden treasures in the Gardens. You’ll find the Floral Clock (in spring time!) at the east entrance, the fairytale-like Gardener’s Cottage, and many memorials and statues, among others the Norwegian Brigade War Memorial – a giant slab of rock given as a gift of thanks and peace from the Norwegians after WWII.
Do you have any favourite winter walks in the city we missed? We would love to hear your recommendations as there are so many green spaces in Edinburgh, it’s always hard to narrow it down!
Visiting Edinburgh this year?
We have a home away from home waiting for you!
There are many Dickins homes available situated close to some of our favourite Edinburgh parks, including homes within walking distance of The Botanics and Inverleith Park in the much loved Stockbridge neighbourhood. Our Carlton Street home is an incredibly charming two bedroom home moments away from the Water of Leith walkway with all the comforts of home. Staying here, you’ll live like a local, and being close to some of the city’s best independent shops and restaurants, it’s the ideal place for self-catering and winter walks.