The Hermitage of Braid is part of a 150-acre nature reserve in Edinburgh, between the Blackford and Braid Hills. The Braid Burn flows for around 2 miles through the parkland. The reserve received a Green Flag in 2011 for its quality natural habitats, which are home to exotic flora and fauna.

The Hermitage of Braid was named after a 1700s estate, which serves as a visitors center and museum. You can check out its historic dovecot, walled garden, stables and icehouse before venturing out into the various habitats surrounding the estate.

Hermitage of Braid in Edinburgh - one of the highlights of 10 Best Outdoor Adventures in and Around Edinburgh (Read all about Edinburgh here)

photo by Stephencdickson (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

A brief history of Hermitage of Braid

The de Brad family owned the Braid estate until the 18th century when it was bought by lawyer Charles Gordon of Cluny. During the 1780s, Edinburgh-based Robert Burn designed and constructed the current Hermitage House. Years later, John McDougal took over as owner of the Hermitage of Braid. He presented the land to the city as a public park in 1937.

photo by M J Richardson (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

What are the highlights of the Hermitage of Braid?

The Hermitage House is one of the main highlights of the nature reserve. Completed in 1788, the category A-listed building features a castellated Gothic style and a water pump system that sources fresh running water from the Braid Burn. It also has an icehouse that used to store food. The ice was collected from nearby ponds and wrapped in straw to delay the melting time. You can find the house on the northern side of the Braid Burn. Today, it’s a visitors center offering exhibits, activities and information about the nature reserve.

The Hermitage of Braid is a great place for nature enthusiasts in Edinburgh. The public park comprises 150 acres of wetland, rocky outcrops, woodland, scrubland, grassland, and the Braid Burn – all of which are teeming with exotic wildlife.

Some of the many birds you might encounter include green woodpeckers, herons, kingfishers, song thrushes and tawny owls. The Blackford Pond provides a refuge for coots, swans, mallards, and geese. Otters often swim in the Braid Burn, especially on warm days.

The Hermitage of Braid has many ancient trees, some of which date back to the early 19th century. The valley bottom consists of beech and sycamore trees exceeding 130 ft in height, making them among the tallest in Edinburgh.

A must-visit is Blackford Hill, which was formed from Edinburgh’s oldest rock. This elevated spot in the Hermitage of Braid offers excellent views of Edinburgh, the Firth of Forth, and the Pentland Hills.

The Hermitage of Braid Circular is a 1.8-mile loop trail that suits all skill levels. It’s great for hiking and jogging through the woodland of the Hermitage of Braid. You can even bring your dog, but it must always be kept on a leash. You can buy a map of the route from the Hermitage Visitor Center.

photo by M J Richardson (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

Good to know about Hermitage of Braid

The Hermitage of Braid is about 3.2 miles south of Edinburgh city centre. You can get there by taking a bus to Comiston Road and alighting at Braidburn Terrace. From there, it’s a short walk to the nature reserve’s wooded glen. You can continue your walk on a woodland path that takes you to the top of Blackford Hill, where you can enjoy superb views over Edinburgh.

photo by M J Richardson (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

Hermitage of Braid in Edinburgh

Location: Countryside Ranger Service, 69 Hermitage of Braid, Edinburgh EH10 6JF, UK

Open: Monday–Friday from 9 am to 4 pm (closed on weekends)

Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveler