Craigmillar Castle

The fourth travel journal entry finds Kate and I adventuring slightly out of the city of Edinburgh to Craigmillar Castle, then back to the city for some pints and dinner.

This entry doesn’t have a lot of detail but we did spend the whole day exploring the castle so I got a lot of photos and a few shaky iPhone videos. And I also got the informational booklet to help me remember the tiny details of the Castle.

As stated before, anything in italics are current thoughts and musings on what I decided to write in the moment. If you would like to read past entries, click on the following links: Part 1: Departure, Part 2: Arrival and Part 3: Exploring Edinburgh.

For now let’s dive in:

Part 4: Day 2 in Edinburgh

Of cool poetic joy, I bent my way
Tow’rd a majestic Castle’s ruins wide;
Within whose gates once royalty bore sway,
And for a season laid its cares aside.

From Craigmillar Castle: A Elegy by John Pinkerton, published in 1776

July 26, 2016

Today was mostly comprised of an adventure to Craigmillar Castle. After breakfast at a little place on Gardenmarket (toast and eggs and hot chocolate in a box with gorgeous views of the Edinburgh Castle) and some fun vintage shopping where I got a neat new pair of sunglasses, we hopped on a bus that took us to the outskirts of Edinburgh.

It was about a 20 minute bus ride and a small walk to the Castle. This castle was another place where Mary, Queen of Scots stayed, most notably more towards the end of her sad reign. She is such an interesting person of history. I want to read more about her.

Craigmillar Castle is one of Scotland’s most perfectly preserved castles. The castle was passed from family to family so many changes were made over the years, resulting in a stronghold with many layers, passageways, walls and add-ons. The inner tower is said to have been built in the 14th or 15th century but the outer walls were built anytime between 1427 and the 1510s.

The castle itself is basically an open ruin. You are free to roam the battlements, former chambers, small dungeons and the like. There were a few important informational pallets scattered around in what remained of the rooms but otherwise I’m glad that I got the extra little pamphlet with more information. It was so much fun to explore the castle and the small gardens. I felt so free, like one of the kids that we saw running around all day. It’s that child-like freedom, that sense of adventure, that I crave when I travel to new places. It reminds me of how important it is to stay curious.

The Gilmour Coat of Arms from 1660

Up to the Castle Battlements!
Views from the Battlements
Up to the roof
The perfect height for the doorways

This coat of arms that features three unicorns belongs to the Preston family, who were the original builders of Craigmillar Castle. The Prestons were highly involved in the political atmosphere of Edinburgh, with many members of the family serving as the sheriff of Edinburgh. Sir Simon Preston, Baron of Craigmillar, was one of Mary Queen of Scots’ most loyal supporters. The estate was purchased in 1660 by Sir John Gilmour, whose coat of arms was pictured earlier.

The Pleasure Gardens outside were used by the families and visiting royalty for activities like archery practice and hawking.

After trekking through and tumbling down the rolling hills of the fields surrounding the castle, Kate and I hailed a bus and made our way back into town. We decided to relax before dinner by catching the new Star Trek movie. There are only a few things I want to see tomorrow before we leave for Dublin but I am hoping they will be quick sights to see.

We had a ‘fancy’ dinner at The Witchery By The Castle, just a few steps from Edinburgh Castle. I didn’t manage to take a lot of foodie pictures because it was very dark inside the restaurant but it was one of the best meals I have ever had and the restaurant itself was gorgeous.

Edinburgh is such a lovely gorgeous city and I feel comfortable here. I would love to come back to visit again.

I am very excited for our last day in Scotland and the beginning of the Ireland leg of the trip!


  1. Pingback: The Palace of Holyroodhouse | The Beginner's Guide to Adventuring

  2. Lois Dean says:

    Again, you wrote a wonderful detailed piece. I felt like I was behind you taking the stone steps up to the top of the castle! I appreciate the reminder to take the time to explore and enjoy the wonder of the world’s gifts.


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