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.
ELGT’s Craigmillar Woodland Engagement Project started in 2016. Our aim is to enable all members of the diverse community of Craigmillar to enjoy the benefits and opportunities that the beautiful woodlands and greenspace of Craigmillar Castle Park provide. Through the delivery of community events we offer opportunities to the local community to learn new skills, engage with nature, meet other local residents and have fun. We also work alongside local schools, organisations and community groups to build our vision of a learning community centred around the park.
The project identified opportunities for woodland improvements within Craigmillar Castle Park through the Woods In and Around Towns scheme (WIAT) which were delivered thorough 2019 and 2020.
Public Programme of Events and Activities
We hope our public programme offers something for everyone. From magical woodland walks, family forest festivals, nature walks and well being and conservation activities. Our programme of event can be accessed below and demonstrate the wide array of wonderful activities that ELGT organise in Craigmillar Castle Park. We have regular themed nature walks, larger community celebration events and conservation and crafts groups. To find out about events and activities follow our facebook page
Magical Woodlands Walks
Hundreds of people have attended our Magical Woodlands walk in Craigmillar Castle Park. The walks are delivered by Rowanbank Environmental and Arts Education which aims to entertain, inform and educate children about environmental issues colourful stories with trapeze, song, dance and storytelling. We hope to bring another of these fantastic events to the park in Summer 2024.
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!”
Guided Walks and Workshops
We host regular guided walks on different themes in nature. So far this year we have looked at birds, trees, moss, fungi, pollinators and bats. The next walks coming up are Tree I.D on Friday 8th March at 2pm and Birds on Friday 19th April 2pm. Our next craft workshop is a creative plant I.D workshop using art to help remember the flowers that grow in the park. Friday 10th May 2pm.
We have been working with a fabulous group of naturalists to bring engaging and expert knowledge to the wildlife of our amazing park. Including Aisling Murphy, Graeme Wilson, herbal Scotland, Floramedica and Edinburgh Botanic Gardens.
Family Forest Festivals
During the holidays we hold Family Forest Festivals. The next Forest Festival is our Imbolc Celebration on Saturday 10th of February 2024 from 1pm to 3pm. See more details here.
We have been working with all three local primary schools in the area. Every Friday we have been delivering an outdoor learning session for St. Francis Primary School and on Thursdays we work with Niddrie Mill. The sessions focus on engaging the children in a sensory way with the park, we use crafts and games to learn about the different plants and creatures that live in the park.
Last year with Niddriemill students we created an audio trail. They shared their experiences of the woodland to create a trail that can take you to some of their favourite places in the woods. You can find out more about the trail here. We are developing a project with Castlebrae High School to deliver the Scottish Forest and Outdoor Learning Awards with a pilot project planned for Summer 2024. We want to build a fully inclusive learning community centred around the park.
We work in partnership with Action For Children delivering a programme of woodland skills to the participants of the Youth Build scheme which supports young people into work. These groups make a huge contribution to the maintenance of wildlife habitats within the park. We provide a programme of practical conservation upskilling to broaden their skills and experience and develop confidence.
They have been developing their skills and delivered improvements to the park. These have included the creation of a new forest play area, woodland thinning, path clearance, removal of invasive species of Snowberry and Laurel, bird box installation and establishing the orchard and wetland area in Little France Park.
We work with local groups to support their use of the park and to bring our knowledge and enthusiasm for the wildlife of the park to their members. Groups that we work with includes Sandy’s Community Centre, Thistle Foundation, Bridgend Farmhouse, Carr Gomm, Craigmillar Library, Turning Point Scotland, Dads Work, Play Rangers, University of Edinburgh, Connecting Craigmillar, Historic Environment Scotland, Archelogy Scotland, the Craigmillar Neighbourhood Alliance, the City of Edinburgh Council Natural Heritage Service, Creative Artworks, Trees for Cities, SAMH, Peregrines (Tiphereth), Operation Play Outdoors, Butterfly Conservation Scotland, Art Walk Porty, Craigmillar Now, Green Team, Rowanbank Arts and Environment, Art Walks and Venture Trust Scotland. If you are part of a local group and would like support to use and enjoy the park then please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.”
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.
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
Childrens’ Hospital Activities
As part of the engagement with local organisations, ELGT has been working with the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People at Little France on an outdoors-indoors programme. The sessions will involve working the children, parents and staff at the hospital to create a link with nature that can help provide ongoing support and enjoyment.
Activities have included creating environmental art using different materials.
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