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Capital Picnics in the Park

Author: kim

Edinburgh is covered in good places to picnic, from the seven hills surrounding the city to the Water of Leith, the canal and hidden parks, there is something for everyone to enjoy. We'll give you our top suggestions for recipes, ingredients and destinations, from family friendly to the lone picnicker…. (OK person on a lunch break!)

The Meadows

Is a popular haunt with pretty much everybody. Not JUST because it's round the corner from our Tollcross store (although that's handy for cold drinks), but because it's home to one of the best play parks ever! From swings with comfy chairs attached, to water pumps, to climbing walls, not forgetting the flying fox* or tricycle roundabout! If you've kids, grab a picnic table, spread out your stuff and settle in for the day! Try making superfood pasta, perfect for boosting energy on a long day. If you've smaller kids, try the play park on Bruntsfield Links, a perfect spot to watch folk on the putting green!  If you don't like play parks, there's always the tennis courts or Frisbee. Simply sit back sip on some fresh fruit juice and watch the cricket game...

*If you're NOT a kid but want a go on that flying fox, may we suggest an evening picnic….

food in the park

Leith Links

A distinction is always made between 'burghers and Leithers in Edinburgh, we know it well as our Broughton Street store straddles the divide! If you're a Leither, then Leith Links is where you’ll come to play and picnic in all weathers, 'burghers head to Bruntsfield Links instead! Formerly it was one of the oldest golf courses in Edinburgh, used as early as the mid 16th century. It's been the scene of public executions, duels, battles and other historic gatherings and to top it all off, plague burials! Perhaps a more macabre picnic site and who knows, if you hang around late enough, you might meet otherworldly picnickers! Perfect for kicking a ball about, chasing a dog or diving into this homemade green club sandwich!
leith links picnic

Royal Botanic Gardens

It would be one of our top picnicking spots as the Edinburgh Botanical Garden is simply amazing, but there's NO PICNICKING in the grounds. Oh, they'll turn a blind eye to the odd 2 year old grabbing a snack, but there's no lazing away the afternoon with a sarnie here! On the other hand – Inverleith Park is literally across the road (Arboretum Place), with a decent play park, beautiful views of the city centre and plenty of room for your picnic blanket! Try making these fruit bread fingers with the kids and munching as you go. Or try tangy apple and cinnamon rolls from Raw Health, before visiting the hothouses, rockery and Chinese garden in the Botanics. Ironically, with picnics in mind, a good time to go is just after a shower as many of the plants are at their most fragrant. If you like your Rhododendrons go in the early spring or late summer depending on the variety.
botanics picnic

Calton Hill

For some of the best views across the city and the location of the Acropolis-like ‘National Monument’. An unfinished project started in 1816 as a memorial to those who died in the Napoleonic Wars. Also to be found, Nelson’s Monument built to commemorate none other than Horatio Nelson who died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The tower is also home to a ‘time ball’, a device used by ships captains moored in the Firth to set their chronometers. The elevation made it the ideal place to be seen from the Firth.  For a real feast try making these dishes and have a tapas style picnic. Perfect with a soft drink!
picnic on calton hill

Scotland Yard Park

 A quiet, leafy, residential park in New Town area and near Broughton. Situated at the foot of Scotland Street, off Eyre Place, and joined to King George V Park (the two parks are essentially one). Two swing parks for children, one with a large slide, and a good basketball court. Scotland Yard was originally a station, and train goods yard. The Rodney Street Tunnel, heading North to Leith, officially re-opened in July 2009, extending the off-road pedestrian-cycleway network along the former railway line. Leith shore is but a 10-minute cycle ride away. A great place to stop off on a walk or cycle. Try some of these snacks for on-the-go energy. Or make your own smoothie and take it along.

Dunbar's Close

A hidden gem - simply head down the Royal Mile past Canongate Church, on the left-hand side look out for Dunbar's Close. Laid out in the style of 17th-century gardens, it was donated to the City of Edinburgh in 1978. Perfect for a secluded bit of peace in the heart of the city. Try a little decadence with homemade Ultimate Raw Vegan Three Layer Cayenne Pepper Chocolate Brownies.
hidden park

Blackford Hill

One of Edinburgh’s ‘Seven Hills’, and situated a few miles south of the city centre. At the top, you’ll find Edinburgh’s Royal Observatory, which moved here from Calton Hill in 1896 when light pollution from the city became too much. Ideal for a sunny afternoon, try making these wraps for a tasty snack. Once you’ve had your picnic, you might want to take a wander down to Blackford Pond, where you’ll find a wide variety of pond and bird life including moorhens, Canada geese, swans, mallards and herons. Look out for travelling frogs early in the year and hoards of frogs and toads spawn. If you’re taking a dog, remember to keep it on a leash near the pond, as we all know what most dogs like to do when presented with a pond!
Try using our recycled sandwich bags or foil for your food and remember to recycle and leave the place as you found it ...