Edinburgh school holidays: 11 fascinating historic National Trust for Scotland properties easy to visit from Edinburgh this summer

With overseas tourism hit by the pandemic there has never been a better time to visit these attractions.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 11:59 am
These are the 11 National Trust for Scotland properties closest to Edinburgh to visit this summer.
These are the 11 National Trust for Scotland properties closest to Edinburgh to visit this summer.

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) are tasked with protecting some of Scotland’s most culturally important sites for future generations, helped by their 300,000-strong membership.

From castles and gardens, to mansionhouses and historic villages, they offer a huge variety of days out – will all proceeds being ploughed back into their work.

This summer is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit some of these unique places without the usual holiday crowds, while supporting the important work being carried out by the NTS.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The house of a wealthy merchant from the 17th century, Gladstone's Land is one of the oldest buildings on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Enjoy an immersive visitor experience, learn about the people who used to work there, have a treat in the ice cream parlour and see if you can spot the monkey on the hand painted ceiling.

Here are the 11 closest to Edinburgh to enjoy over the school holidays with your family.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

Situated on Charlotte Square, the Georgian House was designed by acclaimed architect Robert Adam and was the height of luxury in late 1700s Edinburgh. It has been magnificently restored to show a typical Edinburgh New Town house of the late 18th and early 19th century. It's closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Newhailes House, in Musselburgh, is a 300-year-old house formerly belonging to the.influential Dalrymple family. It has breathtaking interiors and a fine art collection, and visitors can learn about the fascinating lives of those who lived there. Outside you can enjoy woodland walks in the 18th-century designed landscape, with views across the River Forth, and have lunch in the Stables Café. There's also the Weehailes Adventure Playpark. Afterwards, and the Old Dairy ice cream parlour.
A glorious walled garden tucked away in the charming village of Inveresk, near Edinburgh, Inveresk Lodge Gardens are split into two areas - the more formal lawns and borders at the top of the hill and wilder woodland and ponds below. It's a year-round sanctuary of tranquillity. Kids can also try finding minibeasts by pond dipping.
Another stunning walled garden for plant lovers on the outskirts of Edinburgh, enter the world of Malleny through decorated wrought iron gates to discover 400-year-old yew trees, colourful and fragrant flowers and shrubs, Victorian greenhouses, heritage rose plantings and a doocot.
Set in landscaped parkland overlooking the Forth, just outside Linlithgow, the House of the Binns is a traditional laird’s house that has been the home of the Dalyell family for over 400 years. The present house was built in 1612 and contains an interesting collection of family portraits, furniture, porcelain and silver acquired over several generations. Outside, you can take a walk through woodland up to a hilltop tower for stunning views over the surrounding landscape.
Culross is Scotland’s most complete example of a burgh of the 17th and 18th centuries and will be familiar to fans of Outlander - several scenes of the popular television series were filmed on its streets. Cobbled streets lined with pretty and colourful houses lead up to a hilltop abbey. There's also a palace and a period garden complete with herbs, fruit, vegetables and rare Scots Dumpy hens.
Another Outlander filming location, the Dutch-style Preston Mill sits just outside the East Lothian village of East Linton and was the region's last working watermill - only closing in 1959. Discover what it was like to work there, see the nearby 16th century Phantassie Doocot, then enjoy a walk around the grounds, looking out for otters and other wildlife in the river.
Falkland Palace & Garden is was transformed into a 'pleasure palace' modelled on a grand French chateau by James IV and James V in the 1600s. Mary, Queen of Scots enjoyed visiting to play tennis on one of the first real tennis courts in the world. Today, visitors can see the court, explore the palace, wander historic orchards, formal gardens and a living willow labyrinth.
In the centre of the Borders town of Innerleithen, Robert Smail’s Printing Works is the oldest commercial letterpress printers in the UK, dating back to 1866. Visitors can see the traditional printing presses in action, try their hand at being an apprentice compositor, and explore Smail's Victorian office.
A stretch of woodland to the east of Stirling in the shadow of the Ochil Hills, Dollar Glen boasts deep gorges, rushing burns, crashing waterfalls, a weath of wildlife towering trees and the ruined Castle Campbell make Dollar Glen the perfect place to ramble away from day-to-day life. It's a perfect day out with plenty to see - best pack a picnic.