Spring brings such rejuvenation and promise. And the weather in Edinburgh a few weeks ago was positively spring-like. It’s strange how spring can bring on a sense of never-ending nostalgia- childhood memories and the hope that lies in store. So, taking advantage of the beautiful weather and hopeful mindset, we set out to explore the Edinburgh neighbourhood of Liberton.
I suspect that visitors to Edinburgh might not venture far from the city centre. But I’m hoping that this article will demonstrate that a wee venture out to Liberton is worth the trip. After all, it has history, golf, horseback riding, and beautiful parks where you can sit and relax after a busy day of exploration.
It’s not terribly surprising to find out that Liberton has an historic Kirk. However, it might be unexpected to find out just how long a church has been on that site. According to the Kirk’s website, the first recorded evidence of a chapel at that location can be found in the Great Charter of Holyrood signed in 1143. Liberton became a parish church during the Reformation. Further, “the old church was demolished in 1814 and a new church designed by the architect James Gillespie Graham was built on the site”.
Liberton Kirk as it stands today is quite lovely- especially with the flowers blooming in anticipation of the coming spring. If you visit, make sure that you stop by the Kirkgate Café (check the website for opening days and hours) for a nice place to relax and have a cup of coffee or tea.
Unique, Historical Rental Accommodation
Continuing along the same historical vein of interest, one of the more fascinating finds in Liberton is the Tower House which dates from the 15th century. What is particularly special about it is that, unlike many of the buildings that still survive from that era, it has remained largely intact and the outside unaltered.
According to the Liberton Tower website, the tower house was built by the Dalmahoy family but was abandoned as a residence in the early 1600s. It was then “used as a farm store, byre, and piggery right up until the 1990s, when its owners, the Liberton Trust, granted Castles of Scotland Preservation Trust a lease of one hundred years in order that the structure be restored and put back into use”. It is now a rental accommodation if you fancy a stay in a unique, historic building. You can check out their website for more information.
Outdoor Recreation in Liberton
If you are interested in sports and outdoor recreation, then Liberton has something to offer you. Many people come to Scotland to golf. Therefore, you won’t be disappointed to learn that there are two golf courses to check out- Braid Hills Golf Centre and Liberton Golf Club. I should clarify that technically only a part of the Braid Hills Golf Centre is in Liberton with a majority of it being in the Braid Hills neighbourhood.
If golf isn't your cup of tea, then perhaps you might want to try horseback riding. I was fortunate to grow up with grandparents who owned a horse farm, and I enjoyed the thrill of horseback riding. I also learned the amount of work that goes into having horses. Let me tell you, you learn what it is to work when you have to muck out a stable full of horse stalls! I was quite pleased when we found the Tower Farm Riding Stables (the scents from the Stables that wafted our way as we walked closer to the farm definitely contributed to some of that nostalgia I was talking about at the beginning of the article).
Among their different offerings, the Tower Farm Riding Stables provide riding lessons and group rides. Make sure to check out their website for more information. I’ve definitely put the Stables on my to-do-list. Of note, they are close to the Tower House and they might be a fun option to explore if you happen to rent out that accommodation. The area is quite beautiful as there are open fields with views of Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh Castle, and Craigmillar Castle.
If you are looking for a little place to relax- perhaps after a busy day golfing- there are a couple of parks in Liberton. Our dogs certainly enjoyed running around among the beautifully budding flowers in one of the parks.
Now I’ve saved what is probably my favourite bit of trivia for last. Readers of the blog will know of my love for reading and appreciation of classic literary greats (Robert Louis Stevenson anyone? Find more here and here). Like so many fans around the world, I adore the Sherlock Holmes books written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Many of you might know that Conan Doyle was born and raised in Edinburgh. He was born and grew up at Picardy Place, but many don’t realise he spent a few years of his childhood elsewhere due to trouble in the family home.
Despite the sad history behind it, I was thrilled when I found out about the architectural treasure in a section of the Liberton neighbourhood. It's a quaint stone cottage where Conan Doyle lived for a couple of years. It is important to note that it is not a tourist attraction and is a school- so privacy is important to them. The only clue to its former, famous inhabitant is the wood-carved hound howling in the garden (yes, as in The Hounds of Baskerville).
This is why we love Edinburgh. The history is sprinkled all over the city- just waiting to be found- if one only takes the time to explore. Liberton is just one neighbourhood in Edinburgh and we plan to explore more in upcoming articles. Therefore, if you haven’t done so already, please subscribe to our blog so that you can get our posts as soon as they are published.
If you come to Edinburgh, we would love to help you explore the incredible history, culture, and so much more! Therefore, check out our website on the various Edinburgh walking tours that we offer- scheduled and private.
Until next time- Explore & Discover!