Braidburn Valley Park, Edinburgh.

In Scotland, during this Covid 19 lockdown time, we’re very fortunate that we have been permitted to continue to take daily exercise. Many countries have been on full lockdown where the citizens can’t even go outside at all and although this may be necessary in badly affected or highly populated areas it must be very difficult to keep this up, especially if you have children who love to run their energy off.

The Braid Burn. A perfect place to use your little fishing net and sit beside for a picnic

Unlike many cities, Edinburgh is blessed with super green spaces dotted throughout the city and they are generally pleasant and accessible. One of these areas is Braidburn Valley Park, located in the Morningside and Oxgangs area of the city. It occupies a beautiful valley with the Braid Burn (stream) running through it from the Pentland hills to the Firth of Forth. At 11 hectares it is the fourth biggest community park in Edinburgh and, proudly, in 2007 it achieved the award of Scotland’s first Green Flag for Excellence in Parks.

A map of the park and various flora and fauna to be seen there

The beautiful trees and plants together with the burn provide a perfect home for the local wildlife and the children of the area have created a wildflower meadow in an effort to attract more birds and insects. However, as well as the wildlife, the park is well visited by local families riding bikes, walking dogs and generally just enjoying nature. With the avenues of stunning blossom trees, various walkways that are accessible to wheelchair users and the variegated leaves of the shrubs and bushes, this is the perfect place for a picnic or a game of hide and seek.

Beautiful tree-lined walks to enjoy, winter or summer.

As well as being ideally placed to serve the local community, the park has a lot of history to discover. For example, the park’s Fly Walk was the route that Robert Louis Stevenson took when travelling between his home in Swanston and the city centre and the cherry trees there were planted by 5000 girl guides in 1935 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V.

accessible paths that can be used by used by wheelchair users, for baby buggies, etc.

The park is an important community hub to the point that a local committee has formed to look after the park’s interests and ensure that it is well managed and used appropriately. The Friends of Braidburn Valley Park was formed in 2002 to give local people the opportunity to have their say in how the Park would be managed and developed. The Friends work in partnership with Edinburgh Council and others to increase people’s use of the Park, as well as its amenity and importance for wildlife.

The Pentland hills in the near distance

Braidburn Valley Park is open all the time, it does not close at night and the stunning sunset as a backdrop to the silhouette of the surrounding houses really brings an air of calm that can be felt when walking there at twilight.

gazing over the valley to the sunset.

At the moment, the park is a bit quieter than usual because people are following the guidelines under the Covid 19 prevention plan and either staying home all the time, limiting their outside activity or when they do venture out, people are practicing social distancing and keeping at least 2 metres away from those who are not part of their household. However, we can all still enjoy this lovely green space for our daily exercise, soak up the smells and sounds of nature and look forward to the time, hopefully soon, when we can sit there and enjoy a picnic again.

stargazing app that showed us we were looking at Venus in the sky.

The Helix, Falkirk

Relax at The Helix

The Helix, Falkirk.

Beautiful greenery in The Helix

The Helix Park in Falkirk is a fairly new park for the area. For many years the land on which it is now situated was a bit of a no-go area for humans unless you had good wellies on. The idea was born in 2003 to develop an eco park, link communities that had nothing but road networks  between them and this site, with its 350 hectares of land was the perfect place. Sitting on the border between Falkirk and Grangemouth with close proximity to both town centres, with easy access from the nearby motorway, it has proven to be a very popular place to spend the day with both locals and visitors flocking to it, especially on the nice sunny days in the summer.

Wetlands have been preserved and maintained for the wildlife to enjoy and build their habitats in.

Many organisations were involved in the planning and development of The Helix and in 2007, the project was  awarded twenty five million pounds in grant funding from The Big Lottery. Fast forward to 14th September 2013 and The Helix celebrated its opening day with many people in attendance. Since then it has gone from strength to strength and on any given day, you can see walkers, families at play, cyclists, skaters and all kinds of people enjoying the great outdoors there.

There are many beautiful walkways at The Helix and all are wheelchair user friendly.

The area has two car parks. A free car park near the play park area and a car park that takes a small fee nearer the back where The Kelpies are. There is also sometimes a chance to park your car at Falkirk stadium, from which you can then walk in a few minutes to one of the many entrances to the park.

Free car parking at The Helix

The Helix is essentially in two parts seamlessly lying together. The Helix North and The Helix South. The Helix North is the greener part with long path networks meandering through woodlands and along The River Carron and these paths give access to the area from surrounding communities such as Carron, Grangemouth and Langlees, Bainsford.

The Lake at The Helix. In summer you can enjoy pedalos and kayaking or just sit at the cafe and enjoy the peace and beauty

The Helix South has Over 12km (7.5 miles) of new and upgraded paths. These paths provide connections between Grangemouth, Beancross, Polmont, Lower Braes, Laurieston and Westquarter. They also improve links to the Falkirk Stadium and link to Helix Park, The Kelpies Hub and Helix North.

Some of the wonderful apparatus available to children at The Helix

If you have children The Helix is like a dream destination for them. A fantastic park and boating pond takes centre stage and the apparatus is all constructed with natural materials which encourage young adventurers to explore safely. They can run, climb, balance, spin, jump and all in a very natural environment. While they’re having the time of their life, there is a cafe where you can enjoy some simple foods and get a coffee. At the side of the cafe, there are free toilet facilities so you don’t need to worry about accidents. In the summer months there are also water activities such as kayaking and padalos. There really is something for everyone. Keep up to date with activities at The Helix by pressing the link.

One of the many visitors to The Helix

The Helix park is very accessible, if you’re coming from out-with the area, here’s how to get here. We Falkirk people hope to see you at The Helix soon.