The temptation to escape a windy, wet winter can have you wander-lusting over winter-sun-kisses beaches and long weekends in cultured European cities. But wait! It can become all too easy to overlook all the places Edinburgh provides on your doorstep, that are just made for tourist-days at home.
Katey and I were discussing all the things to do in Edinburgh, one of them being exploring the cityscape and countryside on long, rambling walks. Inspired by Edinburgh Spotlight's list of Places to Walk in Edinburgh, here's my first snap-happy advice on discovering a lush, magical spot right behind The Grange on the Southside: Blackford Hill and the Hermitage Braid.
You can come at the hill from a few different ways: via the Observatory, which will take you up a very steep street followed by a fairly steep straight climb up the side of Blackford Hill. I always think this area would be perfect for sledging when the next bout of serious snow hits!
Or you can enter via the 'middle' of the hill, near to the pond. This is at the bottom of the Grange Hill, and has a nice wee bit to park cars, tie up bikes, and allows you to go either right to the Hermitage Braid, or left to the pond and hill.
Or you can enter via Morningside, which is known as Hermitage Braid. It's all woodland, foot and bike paths, dog walkers and muddy patches next to a river. Wellies are advised, and watch out for muddy dogs jumping up for a friendly hello!
The river flows through the whole of the woods, and there's a path on either side. Try going 'across' the river and taking the high road, quite high up...!
Whichever way you enter, I suggest walking the full length; although my favourite is via the Observatory, getting the steep climb out the way first, taking in the breathtaking, wind swept view of Edinburgh from a different angle to Arhthur's Seat, and then descending into the woods and river, coming out at Hermitage Braid, and back up Morningside and Bruntsfield for a cosy fish supper in Henrick's or a hot chocolate and cake at The Chocolate Tree.
One of my favourite places to ramble in Edinburgh; about a 20 minute walk from the Meadows, and a feeling like you're completely out in the countryside, and not on the edge of a cultural Capital city. You half expect to find Bambi and his pals, or a wee gathering of Flower fairies nestled under a bush somewhere. (Or maybe that's just me.)
All photos taken by Jenny. For a few more of Blackford Hill, have a look here.