Easter Craiglockhart Hill is unique in this area of Edinburgh by having a wide range of habitats in an accessible publicly managed natural greenspace promoted as a Nature Trail. These habitats include open water, marsh, woodland and grassland. There is a PDF map of the area that can be downloaded here and printed out A4 size.
Marsh and Pond
In the marsh area by the pond (see location map) you can find flowers like northern marsh and common spotted orchid as well as frogs and toads.
The pond was originally built for boating in 1887. It is home to many birds such as nesting swans, coot and moorhen in summer and tufted duck in winter.
These woodlands were planted over 200 years ago and today you can see a mix of sycamore, elm, beech and ash.
You can also find sanicle, common dog violet the english bluebell. Along the edges of the wood grow horse chestnut and sycamore trees. Near Craighouse you will see oak, and a plantation of pine and larch, while near the pond there are silver birch and yew – quite a variety!
Look and listen for birds like great tits, wren and blackbirds. In the evening you may be lucky enough to hear owls or see some of the bat population.
Old red sandstone formed 400 million years ago under a shallow sea, then about 325 million years ago volcanoes erupted. When they cooled they formed the hard igneous rock which is Easter Craiglockhart Hill. You can see this rock as lava outcrops (see map for locations). The softer green coloured rock on the edge of the hill is volcanic tuff which is volcanic ash, expelled when the volcano erupted. Later, earthquakes caused the rock to split leaving steep sided cliffs. Then 17,000 years ago a huge sheet of ice covered the area. When it melted the valleys were cut leaving the hills you see today.
The name Craiglockhart probably comes from either the Lockhart Family, who owned the land in the 14th century or it is a description of the area, i.e. a rocky hill by a loch: Craig – loch – ard (gaelic).
In 1773 the estate was sold to the Munro family (a famous local medical family). Alex Munro planted trees on Easter Craiglockhart and allowed local residents to walk there. In 1863 the estate was sold and the city poorhouse was built, called Greenlea. Later it was called the Steils. In 1873 the Craiglockhart Estate Company bought much of the land and built large houses under the hill. For more information – Charles Smith, Historic South Edinburgh, Vol 2 (Charles Skilton, Ed, London).