Child-Friendly Edinburgh Walks
Edinburgh has no end of beautiful walks, both urban and rural. You can climb Arthur’s Seat, stroll along the Water of Leith or the Hermitage, head to Lauriston Castle, explore the Botanics, weave around the streets of the Old Town, or get a blast of sea air at Cramond. There’s no shortage of great spots right within the compact city limits.
However, if you’re looking to get out of town and discover some new family-friendly walks that aren’t too far away to travel, here are a few of my favourites.
All of these are suitable for families with children. (They’re not all completely buggy-friendly, so check the details for each individual destination.)
(I’ll update this list over time so watch this space.)
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Best Walks Near Edinburgh with Kids
I’ve divided these up by location, starting with the ones closest to town. All of them are within an hour or so’s drive though, so none will take too long to reach.
Family-Friendly Walks Just Outside Edinburgh
These walks are very close to town, so are perfect for a quick trip in a morning or afternoon.
The Dalmeny Estate, beside South Queensferry, has both coastal and woodland views and so is great for a family walk. Most walking routes recommend following the John Muir Way along the shore from Queensferry to Cramond, which is lovely but at 6 miles it’s too long for a child-friendly stroll.
An easier walk is to park at the Eastern end of Dalmeny Main Street (where it meets the B924) and walk into Dalmeny Estate through the gate on the opposite side of the road. From there, follow the drive all the way down to the shore, where you can see Dalmeny House and access the beach.
To return, you can either come back the way you came, or you can do a loop. To walk the loop, turn left when you reach the shore and follow the main path in the direction of Queensferry. Soon after you pass Barnbougle Castle on your right, there will be a road leading off to the left. Take that road, and when it forks away to the right you’ll stay on the muddy track to the left. That will take you back to the main drive where you came in.
HOWEVER – there can be highland cattle on this route, and if you arrive at a gate where they’re congregating, you might have no choice but to turn back. There’s also a warning sign on the road telling you of this. If you have small children, it’s quite a long way back so be prepared. Otherwise it’s a great loop to walk.
The main drive is completely buggy-friendly, but if you want to do the loop then the track has some locked gates and rough terrain so is unsuitable for wheels.
In between South Queensferry and Kirkliston is the Dundas Estate, which has a lovely small loch with ducks. You can do a circular walk here past the loch and round past the picturesque golf course.
The entrance is on the B800 just outside Kirkliston (not the golf course entrance further North towards Queensferry). You can park in a small layby just opposite the entrance, although this does get busy on sunny days.
Enter the estate down the main drive, and when the road forks take the left fork towards the boathouse. In a few minutes you’ll see the loch ahead. The path follows the loch for its entire length, and there are a couple of benches and plenty of space to feed the ducks. Watch out for the resident swans which aren’t quite as friendly!
This route is completely buggy-friendly if just want to see the loch and feed the ducks. If you want to do the circular walk, the nicest route back is via the golf course which is not that suitable for pushchairs, although an off-road one would probably manage fine. (There is another route back via the road but it’s a lot longer and less scenic).
To do the loop, keep going past the loch where the path heads uphill into the woods. When you start to come downhill again with an open field to your right, you’ll reach a junction. Turn right and head along until you can see Dundas Castle on your right. From here you’ll have the main castle drive to your right, a road to your left, and straight ahead there will be a grass path beside a metal fence which leads towards the golf course.
Go down the grass path straight ahead and it will bring you along the top of the golf course with great views. When you reach the other end, turn left onto the estate road and this will bring you downhill to the junction where you turned left right at the start.
Walks Suitable for Families in Fife
A quick hop over the bridge will take you to Fife’s southern coastline, which has numerous lovely spots for walking. Here are a couple of favourites.
Silver Sands Beach and Fife Coastal Path
Silver Sands is a great beach to visit with children, because it has soft sand, gentle waves, parking, a café and toilets. It gets really busy in the summer, so if you go on a hot day then be prepared to share. When the tide is out though, the beach is huge, so time it right and it won’t be too crowded.
It’s a really pleasant trip at any time of year, and a nice day out is to combine some beach time at Silver Sands with a walk along the Fife Coastal Path towards Burntisland. This is an out-and-back route which takes in some woodland, a fun waterfall at Starley Burn, and a great view of the railway track if you have some small train fans with you.
Head along the coastal path going East from Silver Sands and just go as far as you like before turning back and popping into the Sands Café beside the beach for lunch or an ice cream.
Devilla Forest, near Kincardine, is 700 hectares of woodland with 4 lochs, several stone features, and a resident population of red squirrels. It’s perfect for a family trip because it’s easy walking and there’s lots to explore, plus excitement levels can be kept high at the chance of seeing a flash of Squirrel Nutkin on the signposted Red Squirrel Trail.
I’ve written a post all about it, so please visit that here at Devilla Forest, Fife.
Family-Friendly Walks in West Lothian
Head west out of Edinburgh and you can be in West Lothian really quickly. Boasting 3 country parks, West Lothian has lots to offer for child-friendly walking.
Linlithgow Palace and Loch
About 20 miles from Edinburgh is the lovely town of Linlithgow, with its small loch and 15th century palace which was the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots.
You can combine a trip to the palace (paid entry), where the kids can explore the ruins, with a walk along the loch.
To walk all the way round the loch is just over a couple of miles, and it’s on a surfaced path so is very buggy-friendly.
Parking is available in the town: try the Vennel car park first, which is pay and display. It can get busy in nice weather.
Head out of the northern end of the car park and you’ll reach the path at the water’s edge. From here you can walk round the loch in either direction.
At the end of your walk, there are plenty of cafes near to Linlithgow Palace. I like So Strawberry Caffe which is great for lunch or coffee and cake, and is really kid-friendly.
Linlithgow Canal Basin
Another good walk in Linlithgow is along the Union Canal. A nice thing to do in the summer is visit Linlithgow Canal Centre, where they run short boat trips on summer weekends. They also have a tea room where you can get a snack while you’re waiting for a boat.
It’s all volunteer-run, and the canal basin is a little hive of activity which makes a nice starting point for a stroll in either direction along the canal.
The walk along the canal is a tow path so is flat, easy walking and is buggy-friendly, although can be narrow and muddy in parts.
You can park on the street at either end of Manse Road. There’s also a small well-kept grassy park across the road from the canal centre, which is handy for a picnic.
Beecraigs Country Park
Just outside Linlithgow is the 900-acre Beecraigs Country Park, which has loads of different options for a family walk and is completely free entry.
You’re spoilt for choice here, no matter what age of children you have. There’s a fantastic play area with sections for different ages, animals including deer, cattle and sheep, and a Gruffalo-style pine wood where you can walk round the small loch.
If you want to go for a decent walk and see the animals, head for the visitor centre car park. From there you can go down the hill into the woods towards the loch. There are also picnic tables at various places throughout.
If you just want to hit the playground without a long walk, you’ll want the Balvormie car park.
Child-Friendly Walks in East Lothian
In the other direction, East Lothian is crammed full of amazing beaches and coastal landscapes, all of which make for great family walking. Here’s a lesser known little gem though:
Pressmennan Wood is at Stenton, close to Dunbar. It’s a lovely woodland with various walking trails beside Pressmennan Lake.
The wood is rich in wildlife, but the kids will probably be more interested in the lovely trail of fairy doors in the trees. This is a circular trail and is home to some mythical creatures calls Glingbobs and Tooflits. People leave them pennies on their tree stumps so take a few coins with you. (My toddler did try to pocket some of the coins but was eventually persuaded to leave them for the fairies.)
Pressmennan is easy to get to and is signposted from Stenton. There’s a car park featuring an information board with the map of the Sculpture Trail, which is where the fairies live.
The lower section of the walk beside the shore is not buggy-friendly. I’ve tried it and wouldn’t recommend 😉
I hope this post has given you some ideas for child-friendly walks near Edinburgh. I’ll add to it over time with more locations. If you would like to see the updates, make sure you sign up for the newsletter.
Also, if you have any favourite walks in the local area, I’m always looking for new ideas! Please drop me a note in the comments 😊
Cover photo by Tierras Altas Escocia on Unsplash
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