Edinburgh's fantastic parks are winning new friends to help keep them that way – Donald Anderson

Friends groups in Edinburgh are one of the secret ingredients that give the city such fantastic parks.

Across the Capital, local residents and campaigners come together to care for, clean, and improve its parks. I never cease to be amazed at the strength that partnership can have in transforming green spaces and making them better for everyone to enjoy.

Last weekend I had fantastic walks through the Hermitage of Braid and along Burdiehouse Burn Valley Park. These are both stunning little slices of countryside in the city. There is an array of others. Both parks are a tribute to the partnership between local residents and parks staff and there are so many examples of similarly powerful partnerships across Edinburgh.

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Recently it emerged that two of the city’s finest green spaces are to be cared for by new friends groups. Inch Park, near where I grew up in south Edinburgh, is setting up a new group. Inch Park is bigger than the Botanics and twice the size of Princes Street Gardens. It is also a hub for sports clubs that include Edinburgh South FC, a community football team with the second-largest number of players in Scotland, Lismore Rugby Club and Edinburgh South Cricket Club. It is also used by one of the UK’s oldest cycling clubs.

Calton Hill is home to some of Scotland’s finest monuments and the old City Observatory, now transformed into a wonderful attraction. It is also a fantastic green space with some of the finest views in Europe.

Friends groups will help ensure that both these green gems are cared for and improved. You can find both groups on Twitter. If you want to help and get a bit of fresh air and healthy exercise, just get involved in the Friends of Calton Hill, the Friends of Inch Park, or in one of the many other friends groups across the city.

The Friends of Calton Hill group is meeting in the Collective art centre at the City Observatory at 6.30pm on Wednesday next week, and the Friends of Inch Park will meet outside Inch House to carry out its first clean-up at 10am this Saturday.

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Donald Anderson is a former leader of Edinburgh City Council

Inch House in Inch Park, where a new group of 'Friends' is being set up to help look after itInch House in Inch Park, where a new group of 'Friends' is being set up to help look after it
Inch House in Inch Park, where a new group of 'Friends' is being set up to help look after it
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