I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Edinburgh has been so warm and sunny recently and I have been transformed into a person filled with happiness and optimism. This wasn’t the case so much last week because I was stuck inside revising and feeling sorry for myself but now that I have finished my first year of university I can finally enjoy the outdoors again.
I technically went on this little trip a few weeks ago but I’ve only gotten around to writing about it now so I’m hoping it’s worth the wait. I’ve been wanting to share all the photos I took with my camera because I’m rather pleased with them and now I have the time to focus on my blog again without feeling guilty for not studying.
Duddingston Village is a perfect example of a hamlet hidden within a capital city but is unknown to many tourists as it is away from the city centre. And if stories have taught us anything, we all know that within a secret town there is a secret garden; a perfect oasis from busy day-to-day life. When I wrote about the Botanic Gardens, almost a month ago now, I commented on how it was filled with people everywhere you went. This was not the case when I went to Dr Neil’s Garden and as far as I know, I was the only one visiting at the time. It was lovely to have the place to myself so I can hear the not-so-calming sound of geese honking away on the banks of Duddingston Loch.
Nevertheless, it was so lovely to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre and find a quiet oasis to relax in. I walked to the garden from my flat through Holyrood Park which took around 30-40 minutes. I rather enjoyed it though it was far windier than I had expected and my sunglasses were almost blown off my head. I did see some swans swimming in Dunsapie Loch and managed to get a few photos of them, despite being blown over when I was crouched down.
The entrance to the garden is a little tricky to find, despite it being through a huge gate that is difficult to miss. It is next to another massive gate that leads to Duddingston Kirk but thankfully on the website, it specifies which one to enter through. Entrance to the garden is free but donations are welcomed as the National Trust for Scotland has withdrawn their grant. I made a donation of my own online through their website when I got home because I would love to go back many times in the years to come.
The garden was created by Dr Nancy Neil and Dr Andrew Neil, a married couple of General Practitioners in 1963 and was worked on by themselves and their patients. Unfortunately, they both died in 2005 but their legacy lives on, especially in the new Physic Garden that was opened in 2013 and created in their memory. There’s a more detailed history on their website which I’ll link below, you can donate there too.
The garden is built on a slope adding to the ‘secretive’ feel around it because you can never view the whole garden at once. Parts are hidden by trees and bushes which create perfect nooks for sitting to admire your surroundings or read a book.
The bridge was probably the favourite part of the garden because it was so tucked away. If you look at the location tag on Instagram, most of the photos tagged are of the bridge, mine included but as it is so picturesque is anyone really surprised?
There’s also a small, octagonal tower at the foot of the garden called Thomson’s Tower. It was built in 1825 for the Duddinston Curling Society as a place for them to store their stones and socialise. Again, there is a more in-depth history on their website which is linked below.
Part of me wishes that I had visited the garden again this week to see it during cherry blossom season but due to my exam this wasn’t really possible. Next year I may just ignore the fact that I have looming deadlines and visit anyway. As my flat next year is closer to Dr Neil’s Garden, I’ll likely become a frequent visitor, no matter the season.
I hope some of you are able to visit the garden for yourself, whether you are a resident of Edinburgh or just a local. I think it should be on everyone’s radar for a quiet place to surround yourself in nature without having to stray too far from the city centre.
Dr Neil’s Garden Wesbite: www.drneilsgarden.co.uk