Lauriston Castle Edinburgh

{Edinburgh} A Family Tour of Lauriston Castle

Did you know Edinburgh has more than one castle you can visit? There’s the famous Edinburgh Castle in the city centre, the ruins of Craigmillar Castle in the south-east of the city, and then there’s the picturesque Lauriston Castle in the north-west. I’ve previously written about it when we visited for their Edwardian Christmas experience a couple of years ago.

Lauriston Castle Edinburgh

Lauriston Castle is a 16th-century tower house with 19th-century extensions overlooking the Firth of Forth. There was a castle on this site in Medieval times, which was almost completely destroyed in the mid 16th century. The current tower house dates back to the late 16th century, and has a fascinating history of owners. The most recent owners, William and Margaret Reid, took on Lauriston Castle in 1902 and on their death left it to Scotland on the condition that it should be preserved unchanged. Since 1926, it is held in Trust by The City of Edinburgh Council, and offers a glimpse of Edwardian life in a Scottish country house.

Lauriston Castle Edinburgh

Visits to the house are by guided tour only, and it is advised to pre-book. There is a family tour available, which we tested out during the Easter holidays. As it turned out, we were the only ones, so we got a private tour all to ourselves! The family tour runs at 11am at weekends, and on selected additional days during school holidays. There are also frequent highlight tours, and some monthly special tours. The family tour took an hour. It was really good, and the boys loved being shown lots of hidden ‘secrets’.

Our guide challenged them to try and lift the marble topped table in the entrance hall, and to find the six dogs hidden around the rooms.

In the study, we looked at blueprints, and discovered the hidden door and stair in one of the window panels. Apparently it leads to a crawl space where you could eavesdrop on what was being said in the study!

There were more hidden things to discover in the bedroom. My youngest spotted right away that the drawers on the bedside unit were fake. They are actually doors hiding a chamber pot. The weighing chair proved to be fascinating too (though you can’t sit on it).

Lauriston Castle Edinburgh drawing room

In the drawing room, we learned that the tongs on the desk were for turning newspaper pages so you wouldn’t get ink on your fingers.

And in the dining room we studied the menu. The boys were surprised at how many courses would have been eaten.

Lauriston Castle Edinburgh library

Our favourite room was the library. The boys were pretty impressed by the library chair with its hidden compartments, and absolutely thrilled they got to open the hidden door.

Lauriston Castle Kyoto Friendship Garden
Lauriston Castle Edinburgh Japanese Garden

Lauriston Castle also has very generous grounds, which are very popular with locals for talking a walk. It’s also home to the Kyoto Friendship Garden, which opened in 2002. Edinburgh was twinned with Kyoto Prefecture in Japan in 1994, and the garden was designed to celebrate the enduring relationship. It has been named one of the top Japanese gardens in Britain. Considering the Japanese love of cherry blossoms, it’s no surprise the garden includes many cherry blossom trees, and it looks stunning when they are all in bloom. The garden is equally worth a visit in Autumn too, when the Japanese maple trees turn red.

Lauriston Castle Mimis Bakehouse

Though apparently, according to my boys, the best bit about our visit to Lauriston Castle was the hot chocolates & cake at the cafe (Mimi’s Bakehouse) after our guided tour!

How to get there

Location: 2 Cramond Road South, Edinburgh EH4 6AD

By Train: The nearest railway station is Edinburgh Haymarket, but Edinburgh Waverley Station in the city centre is more convenient for buses to Lauriston.

By Bus: The nearest bus stop is Barnton Park, right outside the Castle grounds. Lothian Bus 47 stops there, and it takes approx 5 minutes to walk from the bus stop up to the house. A bit further away, you can take Lothian Bus 21 to Main Street, about 10 minutes walk away, or there’s a number of buses that stop at the Silverknowes Terminus, about 15 minutes walk away.

By Car: There is a free car park and cycle racks in the grounds. Disabled badge holders may park in front of the castle.

Good to know

Opening hours: The grounds, toilets and Mimi’s Bakehouse are open daily to the public. Grounds 8am – 7:30pm; Toilets 10am – 4pm; Mimi’s Bakehouse 9am to 4pm. The Castle is open at set times by guided tour.

Tour times: 11am (Family Tour) 1.30pm and 3pm (Highlights Tour). Check website for days the tours are running.

Cost: Access to the grounds is free. Tours cost £8.00 Adults, £6.00 Concessions, £12 Family Ticket for 1 adult & up to 3 children, £20 Family Ticket for 2 adults & up to 3 Children.

Website: Lauriston Castle Info | Tour Bookings

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