Family days out exploring Craigmillar Castle | Castles of Scotland

Tucked away on the outskirts of the city centre is Craigmillar Castle. With Arthur Seat in the background and a view straight out to the sea, ( & just a 10 minute drive from the house), it might be one of our favourite castle stops.

Built in the late 14th century, and home to Mary Queen of Scots in 1566, every nook and cranny is filled with history. Queen Mary herself planted a pair of yew tree’s in the courtyard during her stay, that still stand proudly as you enter the building. They’ve grown with the castle and its history and are a perfect addition to such a historical fortress. We explored the winding staircases, hidden chambers and imagined what it was like for those who have stood here before us.

On Sunday’s some of the castles have the ‘art cart’. You can make yourself a crown or design a family crest, before you run around like royalty. We hung around exploring for a few hours, finding bugs, drinking hot chocolate at the top of a tower with the view of Edinburgh in the background.

Slow days are rare in a house with 4 children, but when we get a day we can take slow we relish in it. We’ve started ‘Slow Sundays’. A small activity, a stroll by the sea, a wander around a castle, and then home early for pizza night and a movie. It’s a nice routine, saves us having to think or use too much energy on a weekend after a busy work and school week, everyone just eases into it with no expectations and it’s such a breath of fresh air not having to think about the next wild adventure.

We stopped for a hot chocolate at the top of the castle, we bring a flask, find a spot and chat about our favourite parts of the day so far. It’s nice to have a break in the day and make sure everyone has seen all the parts they want to investigate.

Often missed, there is a play park just a 5-10 minute walk from the castle. ‘Hidden’ in the woods. Just follow the signs from the castle parking and you won’t miss it. It’s full of netted climbing frames and a tall slide. We grabbed a coffee from the gift shop on our way out, and the kids built mini dens in the woodlands on the way to the play park, sword fighting with sticks and climbing the the top of the netted ‘castle’.

Edinburgh is full of so many excellent days out for kids, some are hidden gems, some a little more known. I always feel like Craigmillar Castle is one of those spots that are over looked. A little further out of the city, but so worth the visit. Do you have a favourite castle in Scotland?

Notable information:
Castle facilities:
Gift Shop
Coffee Machine
Toilets
Parking available.

1 Comment

  1. Reply

    Susan

    January 31, 2024

    My husband and I visited the castle in 2019 when we made our first visit to Scotland. We loved it so much. Thank you for sharing it with us again.

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