Edinburgh’s Hills & Nature

For those times when you really feel the need to stretch your leg muscles that little bit further, Edinburgh has several routes that really provide the chance to escape into nature:

Blackford Hill

NG Blackford Hill 6

Home to the National Observatory, Blackford Hill has views across the city, spanning over the Forth to the distant Lomond Hills.

It is an important part of Edinburgh's natural heritage, and along with neighbouring Hermitage of Braid, has been classified a Local Nature Reserve. Blackford Pond and the surrounding wetland are important for water birds such as swan, little grebe, heron, pochard, mallard and tufted duck.

Calton Hill

Nelson Monument

Situated in central Edinburgh, just to the east of the New Town and included in the city's UNESCO World Heritage Site, Calton Hill offers some of the best views of the city.

The hill also houses several iconic monuments and buildings including the National Monument, the Dugald Stewart Monument, Nelson's Monument, the Old Royal High School, the Robert Burns Monument, the Political Martys' monument and the City Observatory.

Corstorphine Hill Local Nature Reserve

Woodland On Corstorphine Hill By Calum Mcroberts

(Image Credit: Calum McRoberts)

A natural heritage park with large areas of mature woodland and grassland, at its highest point (531 feet), Corstophine Hill has stunning views of the city.

On a clear day you can see the summit of Ben Lomond in the west, exceptional views of the Forth Estuary and Fife to the north, and the rolling backdrop of the Pentland Hills to the south.

The park has been awarded a Green Flag since 2010, in recognition of it being a quality greenspace.

Craigmillar Castle Park

Craigmillar Castle

This 62 hectare site features parkland, woodland and plenty of open space to run around.

A natural heritage park with areas of mature and young woodland, grassland and old quarries, in 1997 over 40,000 trees were planted as part of the millennium forest for Scotland project.

The park is set against the backdrop of Craigmillar Castle, an enormous baronial structure which was built in the 15th century.

Easter Craiglockhart Hill Local Nature Reserve

Nestled between the peaceful residential areas of Braidburn and Craiglockhart, Easter Craiglockhart Hill rises dramatically through cliff-faces and steeply wooded slopes to a plateau featuring views over the Forth, the Trossachs, the Pentlands and East Lothian.

The Pentland Hills

Pentland Push

The Pentlands overlook Edinburgh, to the south of the city.  Over 100km of signposted paths guide walkers through an oasis of green hills and lochs. 

With beautiful views of the surrounding area, there are also cycle and pony trails offering lots of ways to explore this beautiful outdoor sanctuary.

Pentland Hills Visitor Centre openings and information on a variety of walk routes>

Ravelston Woods Local Nature Reserve

The first record of this ancient woodland appears in 1826.

Situated in Blackhall, this park is locally renowned for its diversity of plants and animals. It is well worth a visit in the springtime to see the dazzling display of bluebells which carpet the woodland floor.

  • Did you know - most of Edinburgh sits on hard, volcanic rock. Ravelston, however, is sedimentary sandstone which has been quarried to supply stone to build Edinburgh homes since the 16th century. This stone was also used to build the Palace of Holyrood House and St Giles Cathedral. The quarry ceased production after World War II.

Looking for outdoor ideas that all the family can enjoy – check out our Guide to Top 5 Outdoor Activities in Edinburgh and make memories that will last a lifetime>