Lochend Park in Edinburgh has a lot to offer someone who would like a peaceful stroll around a loch (small lake), a gander at a doocot (a 16th-century dovecote), a dander under mature trees, or a play on the swings. Situated in the middle of an urban housing area, it has quite a history too.
Ten minutes walk from St Triduana’s Chapel, there are swans, geese, coots, moorhens, mallards and herons sailing serenely, meandering between reeds, and sitting on their nests. There are only pigeons and the odd visiting dove these days, but when it was the private grounds of the Lochend Castle / House (built in 1810, still inhabited, and sometimes referred to as Restalrig Castle), the fowl would have graced the long, wooden tables. According to Wikipedia, the Doocot was used as a “plague kiln” in 1564, and a boat house in the 19th century for the Royal Humans Society, who were set up to save people from drowning. The boat was also used in winter to check if the ice on the loch was thick enough for games of curling, apparently, and around 1650, it served as Leith’s main water supply.
We are so lucky in Edinburgh to have so many green spaces. I used to picnic in Lochend Park with my children, and they loved to run around the loch in opposite directions and see who got back to the rug first. In 2021, it was an ideal place for a snowy saunter with friends on New Year’s Day.