8 forest walks near Edinburgh: best woodland trails near you - from Roslin Glen to the Hermitage

All the family will enjoy these spectacular and wholesome trails
Walking has become more popular as a result of the pandemic (Shutterstock)Walking has become more popular as a result of the pandemic (Shutterstock)
Walking has become more popular as a result of the pandemic (Shutterstock)

Having the rare chance to explore our local outdoor areas has been one of the few positives of the pandemic.

Working from home has meant we can nip out for a lunchtime breath of fresh air, and life seems to have slowed down a little bit, allowing us to actually stop and appreciate nature.

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Walking and hiking became much more popular during the first lockdown as pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops closed and people turned to the great outdoors for some weekend entertainment.

Scotland is renowned for its breathtaking views, and one of the defining features of the landscape is our ancient forests and tranquil woodlands.

As further restrictions loom for Scotland, there’s no doubt the walking trend will rise again - so we’ve compiled the eight best forest trails near Edinburgh which the whole family will enjoy.

Roslin Glen

A quaint village in Midlothian, Roslin is only seven miles away from Edinburgh and its stunning glen is home to a country park.

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It’s a semi-natural ancient woodland with riverside paths, and in the right season there’s a host of wildflowers and bird species, like chiffchaffs and bullfinches, to spot.

En route, you will pass the semi-ruined Rosslyn Castle which is supposed to be haunted.

Start at Rosslyn Chapel car park for a 4.25km walk which will take around one and a half to two hours.

Cardrona Forest

Situated near Peebles, the hour-long road trip from Edinburgh to Cardrona forest is worth it.

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There are four woodland walking trails to choose from in this tranquil yet mystical area, ranging from a 0.3km stroll to a 6.6.km moderate walk, but all are ideal for any age.

Keep your eyes peeled for red squirrels and a range of birds, and enjoy the spectacular views up the Tweed Valley.

Cammo Estate

A huge 85-acre estate on the edge of the capital, Cammo Estate, now a country park, has a lot to offer.

Discover plenty of paths weaving through the woodlands while marvelling at the ruins of Cammo House, which Robert Louis Stevenson is said to have used as inspiration for the House of Shaws in his novel Kidnapped.

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The abundant birdlife and relaxing green space make it a perfect place for an afternoon stroll - and it’s only one mile long, which will take around one hour to an hour and a half.

The Hermitage

Fancy as an forestry fan? You’ll be impressed by the ancient woodland of The Hermitage of Braid, where some of the tallest trees in Edinburgh are rooted - some of which are said to date back to the early 19th century.

Sitting right on the city’s doorstep, it’s only a 12 minute car drive, or one hour walk, from the centre of town to get to this ever-popular area.

If you fancy a bit more of a walk, combine a stroll round the wooded nature reserve with an ascent of Blackford Hill which gives fantastic views over the city. It’s a 4.25km hike which will take around an hour and a half.

River Almond

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Described by locals as a “fairytale walkway”, this route meanders along from Cramond Brig to Cramond village, skirting around the delightfully-named River Almond which flows into the Firth of Forth.

The path along its banks, which is covered in bluebells in the spring, weaves its way through a variety of trees including beech, oak and sycamore.

Despite being so close to Edinburgh, a 30 minute drive to be exact, you feel as if you’re in the heart of the countryside during this walk making it perfect for a weekend stroll.

The walk is around four miles long and will take around two to two and a half hours.

Moredun Wood

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Part of Burdiehouse Burn Valley Park nature reserve, Moredun Wood offers an enjoyable woodland walking trail which is handily close to the city.

Only 1.6km long, the picturesque route is suitable for all skill levels, and features wooden walkways and bridges to cross.

It’s worth exploring other areas of the reserve while you’re there - the park is actually twice the size of Princes Street Gardens. It’s a 25 minute drive from the city centre.

Corstorphine Hill

Don’t be deceived by the name, as this Corstorphine Hill walk features a really fun woodland hike offering great views over the city and across the Forth.

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Popular with dog walkers, families, joggers and cyclists alike, the walk has character, featuring steps, some steep ascents and descents.

Look out for Corstorphine Hill Tower, an historic folly at the summit.

Start the walk at the entrance to Corstorphine Hill Local Nature Reserve, which is only a 20 minute drive from the city centre and one of the largest green spaces in Edinburgh.

Glentress Forest

A bit of a drive from Edinburgh, a day trip to Glentress Forest, near Peebles, is absolutely worth it.

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Famed for its iconic 7 Stanes mountain bike trails, which attract people from all over the UK, there are five well-marked forest walks in the area which are separate to the ones used by cyclists.

The Ponds Trail circles a wetland which is home to a variety of bird species, while the Tower Trail is a challenging four-hour hike through mature woodlands and hills.

Strap in for the hour-and-a-bit drive to Glentress from the city centre - but we promise you’ll want to keep coming back after your first visit.