Dalkeith Country Park is only a short distance to where we live in Edinburgh and is close to the city bypass. Only a short ride on the bus which suits Noah as he hates being on the bus for long periods of time. The park is open 7 days a week from Easter to the end of October 2012, 10am–5.00pm.
There is also a fantastic adventure playground with over 150 metres of high walkways, flying foxes and lots more to keep children of all ages occupied for hours, but of course that doesn’t appeal to Noah. He would much rather find a stick and play fetch.
Even though the Estate is so close to Dalkeith town centre, it is an oasis of calm woodland. In the Estate, Otters, Badgers and Roe deer, can all be found roaming our woodlands or waterways, along with a host of different species of birds. A flash of red in the undergrowth tells us that a fox is on the prowl, a shriek in the evening lets us know that a barn owl is looking for a mate. I have yet to capture these species on camera.
However we did come across this rather curious cow, she must have wondered if we dared come into her field. Noah and I decided we wouldn’t hedge our bets although she appeared calm when she came over and I was surprised that Noah didn’t bark at her, I wasn’t going to risk it.
Dalkeith Castle was located to the north east of Dalkeith, and was originally in the hands of the Clan Graham in the 12th century and given to the Douglas family in the early 14th century. James Douglas of Dalkeith became the Earl of Morton in the mid 15th century. The castle was strategically located in an easily defensible position above a bend in the River North Esk. Nearer the centre of Dalkeith,James Douglas, 1st Lord Dalkeith endowed the collegiate church in 1406, where Douglas earls lords and knights were buried.
In 1642,Dalkeith Castle was sold by the Douglas family to Francis Scott, 2nd Earl of Buccleuch. It is now formerly known ad Dalkeith Palace or Dalkeith house. Dalkeith Palace has not been lived in by the Buccleuch family since 1914 and has been leased to the University of Wisconsin system for a study abroad programme since 1985. Approximately 60-80 students a semester live in the palace, where they also take classes from U.S. and UK faculty members.
These Building were designed by William Adam in 1740, with additions by William Burn in 1840. From 1932 – 1989, the property was let to the Greyhound Racing Association for kennelling their dogs, which were exercised in the park and raced at Powderhall Stadium in Edinburgh. In 1995, the Estate undertook a major refurbishment to convert the building into a tea room & shop and offices for the Ranger and Staff.
This was an opportunity to stop in the courtyard for refreshments although i think Noah thought the hens and geese were on the menu. However after being curious and having a little bark he soon settled down to enjoy a cold drink and some biscuits.
I enjoyed a fruit scone and a hot cup of coffee. I was enjoying the rest after a busy week. It was great to spend time with Noah.
The Laundry House was built in the early 1800’s to serve the Palace and later it was divided into 2 dwelling houses. In 1993, the Estate converted the building into two offices, which are let to SNH(Scottish Natural Heritage) and the Edinburgh Green Belt Trust.
After our refreshments and Noah eyeing up the hens we took another walk, we crossed over the bridge.
This impressive bridge was built in 1792, by one of Scotland’s most respected architects, Robert Adam. Originally, it displayed 3 life-size sculptures of stags, but these were removed as they frightened passing horses. The bridge span is 70ft and gives an outstanding view of Dalkeith Palace, and the River Esk (North).
The farming on the Estate is carried out with an eye for nature.The many fields laid down to grass, help migratory birds and provide worms for the waders. The wee corners that are a bit boggy and difficult to work, are home to many species, which rely on the insect population that live there. It is a complex web of hunters and hunted, all making their own little ecosystem.
Conservatory / Orangerie
The Conservatory was built in 1832 to the design of Wiliam Burn to form a 12 sided glasshouse with oak framed sash windows flanked by Roman Doric columns on a stepped base. The central chimney provided the support for the elaborate geometric cast iron roof girders. The heating system consisted of two hot water boilers together with furnaces located in the vaulted cellar below. The Conservatory housed orange trees and dates, which gave it the name of Orangerie.
The Conservatory / Orangerie is surrounded by a fence and is under construction at the moment.
Dalkeith Park Old Wood
Most of these veteran Oak tree’s date from between 1580 and 1617, some of them may have been planted as early as the fourteenth century, formerly a deer park. They display huge multi-stemmed trunks, indicating that they have been coppiced early in their lives. The largest base reaches almost 10 m (33ft) in girth. This collection of Oak’s presents a rare landscape feature, a habitat of natural importance, and home to an endangered beetle, unique to Dalkeith Old Wood.
At least twice a year the estate hold a community clean up of the river. Volunteers from the community come and help out, it usually takes a few hours. We are always surprised at what we find.
Near the bridge I came across the house to Let. My dream home – I can dream. what do you think Noah would you like to live here.
What you mean live here, “woof woof”, I say.
What a great adventure…………………………………………………………………………
All tired out, and I wasn’t that far behind him. We both had a great sleep. The power of fresh air in the lungs does wonders……………………………………………