Craigmillar Castle Park
Focusing in and around Craigmillar Castle Park, this project has delivered a wide range of community engagement activities and volunteering opportunities that have fostered a greater understanding of nature and its value through community events, nature walks, natural play activities, workshops and practical conservation tasks.
By delivering a series of community events we have enabled the local community to learn new skills, get involved in volunteering activities, engage with nature and meet other local residents.
We have worked alongside local schools, organisations and community groups to deliver several initiatives to further strengthen the project’s outcomes.
The project has also identified opportunities for woodland improvements within Craigmillar Castle Park through the Woods In and Around Towns scheme (WIAT).
Winner of Scotland Finest Woods Awards
We were delighted to win Scotland’s Finest Woods Awards for the large community woodland award.
Douglas Worrall, one of the judges, said: “Craigmillar Castle Park is an excellent example of an urban woodland primarily managed for the benefit of the local community, with excellent links to local nurseries, schools, community groups and local social enterprises.”
Judges also said: “The woodland’s primary purpose is to provide an attractive, safe woodland greenspace for the benefit of the local community and has been well maintained as well as developed since it was planted just over 20 years ago.
Woodland and Access improvements
Woodland management activities such as thinning, tree planting and crown lifting have been carried out by various volunteers such as a Men’s shed group and local youth groups. This helped bring the community together and made them feel more valued as well as learning new skills both practical and sociable. These activities have improved the biodiversity of the woodland with an increase in native tree species, woodland understorey species and fauna which has been attracted as a result of these operations.
A key local organisation we have been working with is Youth Build to provide a programme of practical upskilling for local young people to help them develop their skills and confidence.
We are very pleased with the work that our upskilling group have achieved thanks to funding from Scottish Forestry and National Lottery. They have been developing their skills and delivered improvements to the park. These have included woodland thinning, path clearance, removal of invasive species of Snowberry and Laurel, developing a forest school site and bird box installation.
Capital works included access improvements which were delivered by contractors due to the technical work required. This include drainage installation and new signs.
Programme of Events and Activities
Our programme of events can be accessed below and demonstrate the wide array of wonderful activities that ELGT organise in Craigmillar Castle Park.
We have created information videos that show you what you can discover at your local greenspace. They are a fun way to involve kids and the rest of the family in nature activities.
Watch our videos and see what you can find by exploring your local greenspace.
In the Foraging Video we show you what interesting things you forage in your local greenspace.
In the Shelter Video we show you how you can make a shelter from the material you can find in your local greenspace.
In the Smelly Cocktail Video we show you how you can make your own Smelly Cocktails.
We also have a film which talks about the work we do and how it benefits the local community.
We took groups of eager young survivalists in the Craigmillar woodland to learn crucial survival techniques including water purification and shelter building — and of course a wee bit of marshmallow roasting! Feedback for the event was really positive with one parent telling us: ” I wanted to say thank you for another wonderful event. My son wanted to make another den. He now wants to live in a woods.”
Magical Woodlands Walk
We had just over a hundred people attending our Magical Woodlands walk in Craigmillar Castle Park. The Rowanbank Environmental and Arts Educational project aims to entertain, inform and educate children about global warming through a colourful story about the seasons with trapeze, song, dance and storytelling. In a fantastical fairy tale adventure children were guided through the woods and into the castle with a host of delightful characters and interactive activities along the way. The children listened to an interactive story about how the seasons were out of sorts, but learned that they can take steps to restore the balance of nature and restore harmony to the kingdom of nature.
We’ve been inundated with feedback from happy parents whose children haven’t stopped talking about it. One parent said: “You guys were totally incredible today. What an amazing, memorable and special event this was. My three year old was utterly captivated.”
Other happy parents added: “I just wanted to say thank you for this event. My two kids had a great time, they loved it and have been creating potions from berries and leaves ever since. Some of which I’ve had to drink too! We hadn’t actually been to Craigmillar castle before, despite living near by – so will definitely go back.”
“Incredible spectacle today. My 3 year old daughter and 5 year old niece were captivated. I had to pretty much drag then away from the castle and the woods at the end because they wanted to just keep retelling and adding to the story. Amazing job. Thank you!”
Family Forest Festival
A big thank you to everyone who came along to the Family Forest Festival. We had great fun despite the very wet weather! We had over 150 people come along who took part in a silent disco, circus skills, petting zoo, camera obscura, face painting and making clay creatures.
The conservation work at Craigmillar Castle Park is ramping up which has seen a number of community activities. These included an afternoon putting up bird boxes with pupils from Castlebrae High School.
Foraging Guided Walk
We have worked with Anna from Floramedica to deliver foraging workshops on the edible plants found in the park. A couple of participants commented “Really enjoyed the workshops today, the kids loved making the creams” and ” We had fun and learnt some new stuff, thanks”
Another instalment of the very popular Foraging Guided Walk was facilitated by Grass Roots Remedies which saw people learning about the diverse edible and medicinal plants found in the park, such as Rosehips and Sticky Willy.
We have delivered walks around the park on the search for bats which are led by bat expert Graeme Wilson who informed people about what to look out for and the different types of bats that are around.
We had fantastic sessions with Owl Magic who were able to get in close contact with a selection of owls. Some of the families said. ” Really lovely event, kids loved it”, “great event, thanks for organising Ben.”
Everyone had a great time at the Owl Magic event where the participants were able to handle different types of Owls. The programme of activity provides a great opportunity for local residents to interact with wildlife.
We have run a Wild Art event, giving people an opportunity to get creative with natural materials to make works of art in the woods. It really is fantastic to be able to have a wild space in the heart of Edinburgh where young people can feel such a close connection to the elements, and develop skills which will encourage them to pursue outdoor activities over the long term.
A big thank you to Think Circus who ran a circus skills workshop. It was a great session were we managed to get a whole family participating.
To celebrate National Tree Week ELGT teamed up with the Forestry Commission Scotland to organise a magical tree dressing event at Craigmillar Castle Park. The day was a true celebration of nature and woodlands, it included musical and circus performances, herbal workshops, a tug of war, treasure hunts and of course some crafty tree dressing. People of all ages were engaged in and enjoyed this wonderful community event.
The event was a real success as it married education, culture and entertainment seamlessly so that everyone both enjoyed themselves and left with an enhanced understanding of and respect for the world of trees and forests. Here is some of the warming feedback left on our facebook page “Truly magical! My friend and I had a wonderful time. I agree with others, please do it again next year! Well done to all involved in making it happen.”
Peace Day was a day of cultural sharing and learning about nature with nature walks, arts and crafts, food, song and dance. Participants from all over Edinburgh from all cultures and creeds enjoyed sharing cuisine and culture; including traditional Indian and Chinese sweets and delicacies. There was also some lovely traditional Indian singing and people danced along in the sunshine.
Everyone planted a flower to commemorate the event and mark the end of peace day which was a fantastic coming together of cultures in an open and sharing environment.
One group of participants said they had a wonderful time and that they really enjoyed sharing their national cuisines with others and learning about others. One person said: ” I really enjoyed tasting Indian sweets they were really tasty and sweet “.
Bulb Planting Sessions
As part of an outdoor classroom day the pupils from Castleview Primary got stuck into different activities at Craigmillar Castle Park. Abby took the P7s to plant some snowdrops while Ben organised a den building session with the P6s and Kim ran a hula hooping session with the P3s. They all got a chance to benefit from using this fantastic local greenspace.
We have also run free Parkour workshops with specialist coaches. An activity which is particularly suited to getting teenagers out in the park.
‘Circus of Lights’
ELGT facilitated this exciting event which brought the community together to enjoy the park and travel paths in a spectacular way. Working with Think Circus and funded by Sustrans’ ArtRoots Fund for community arts on the National Cycle Network, local families had been building giant fairy-tale themed lanterns and learning glow circus routines at Sandys Community Centre and Bridgend Farmhouse. These were performed in a parade across Craigmillar Castle Park and the Innocent Railway Cycle Path.
The event had a fantastic response, over 80 people of all ages engaged in this luminous spectacle which was also enjoyed by members of the public in Craigmillar
Thank you for another wonderful event... Such a special time today... Kids loved it as usual... Brilliant afternoon - can’t believe all these events are free... Thank you so much for everything you have done 😍 I'm quite sad it's over... Not only do [the kids] enjoy the event but they also bring home with them new passions... I had never been around the park before and was amazed that such a beautiful wild place was in the city... My son has been using some of the activities to attract nature in our garden... Various participants
Funded by: Scottish Forestry, City of Edinburgh Council, Scottish Enterprise, Heritage Lottery Fund
- Extensive thinning within Millennium woodland compartments
- 2097.6 m of existing path upgrades
- 633.6 m of new path in Hawkhill woodland
- Regeneration of Chestnut Avenue, including the planting of 15 sweet chestnut standards
- Regeneration of Yew Tree Walk, including the planting of 15 small yews.
- Installation of 6 Finger Posts
- 127 community engagement activities delivered
- Engaged with 2767 local people
- Delivered Upskilling Project in partnership with Youthbuild and Newbattle Abbey College
- Successful in securing additional funding to deliver specific events and projects
- Delivered John Muir Explorer Award in partnership with Carr Gomm
- Assisted in delivering Junior Ranger Programme with Castleview Primary and the University of Edinburgh
- Craigmillar Walking group in partnership with Connecting Craigmillar and the Thistle Foundation set-up
- Outdoors In with Carr Comm and Sandys Community Centre
- Improved appearance of the park
- Benefits to wildlife and biodiversity
- Foster a greater sense of community pride
- Improved green networks and connectivity
- A visible aesthetic improvement to the landscape
- Greater community engagement with local woodlands and their associated benefits such as an increased value of greenspace and biodiversity
- Increased community participation and cohesion
- Increased opportunities for outdoor activities and healthy living
- Increased number of people using and valuing Craigmillar Castle Park