Lauriston Castle Visitor Guide

By Craig Neil
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Table of Contents


Summary

Lauriston Castle is a historic mansion house in Edinburgh that’s open for guided tours and walks around landscaped gardens.

The castle is located 6 miles northwest of the city centre where it overlooks Silverknowes Beach and the Firth of Forth.

The attraction is managed by Museums & Galleries Edinburgh who maintain the castle’s Edwardian decor which is unchanged from the time the last residents moved out 100 years ago.

In addition to exploring the house on a guided tour, visitors can walk around the formal and Japanese gardens before enjoying home-baked goodies from the on-site café.

Lauriston Castle
Address:2 Cramond Road South,
Edinburgh,
EH4 6AD
Opening Hours:The grounds are open to the public between 8 am-7.30 pm each day. Mimi’s Bakehouse is also open to the public from Monday-Sunday 9 am - 4 pm.
Admission Price:Free
Parking:Free onsite parking
Contact:+44 (0) 131 336 2060
museumsandgalleries@edinburgh.gov.uk
Facilities:Outdoor accessible toilets, dining table, castle gardens, cafe

The highlights

1: Lauriston Castle grounds are open all year, offer superb views across the Firth of Forth, and are dog friendly.

The grounds are surprisingly big for an Edinburgh house and comprise an award-winning Japanese garden, a woodland, and a large lawn, which are all great spaces to escape the hubbub of busy city life. And as a bonus, the gardens are completely free to enter.

2: The castle is managed by Museums & Galleries Edinburgh who have done a superb job of keeping the interior just as it would have looked when the last residents moved out in the 1920s.

Lauriston Castle is a fine example of Edwardian life and the furniture, decor, and art collections are some of the finest in the city. Paying the modest fee to join a guided tour is highly recommended.

3: A special mention has to be made for Mimi’s Bakehouse which is located in the castle and serves a delicious take-out lunch menu, hot drinks, and award-winning cakes.

Lauriston Castle

Visiting tips

1: A visit to Lauriston Castle won’t take long (plan around an hour for the gardens and another for the tour) so it’s best combined with a visit to Cramond Island which is just 1.5 miles north.

2: The castle is usually closed for winter but the grounds are open year-round. To ensure you don’t end up disappointed if you’re looking for a tour, visit the Museums & Galleries Edinburgh website before leaving home.

3: There’s a car park at Lauriston Castle that fills early at the weekend but you should find a space if you arrive shortly after the gates open at 8 am. Failing that, there’s a car park at Silverknowes Beach (a 30-minute walk).


Overview

Lauriston Castle is an Edinburgh attraction that few tourists ever hear about, let alone visit.

This 16th-century tower house and its substantial 19th-century extensions is one of the finest examples of its type in Scotland and features exceptional gardens.

The gardens are open throughout the year but the house is closed for winter, after which it opens for paid guided tours.

The gardens, meanwhile, are free to enter between 8 am and 4 pm and comprise large lawn areas coupled with a stunning Japanese garden that was created to commemorate the twinning of Edinburgh with Kyoto in Japan.

Lauriston Castle

During a visit you’re free to walk around the estate at your leisure, though the gardens themselves shouldn’t take much more than an hour to see in their entirety, with a guided tour taking another hour.

The interior of Lauriston Castle is filled to the rafters with collections of artwork and luxurious furnishings that were collected by the wealthy Reid family.

These include Chinese and Dutch ceramics, Scottish and English furniture, and a number of personal belongings that are in the same condition as when the last owner departed in the 1920s.

There’s a lot of history to discover at Lauriston Castle, and during a tour you’ll learn how there was once a medieval tower house on the site before the current tower was built by the Earl of Hertford in 1544.

Lauriston Castle

This building was a simple four-storey fortification with a circular stair and rooftop turrets, but it went through significant structural changes during the 19th century and now has no resemblance to the initial design.

Although Lauriston Castle passed through the hands of several owners over the span of 300 years it was the Edinburgh mineralogist Thomas Allan who remodelled it in 1827 into the building we see today.

Over the following 100 years the house was further upgraded with modern plumbing and electricity by the owners of the Edinburgh cabinetmaking business, Morison & Co. until it was finally handed over to state care in 1926.

Today, Edinburgh Council, alongside Museums & Galleries Edinburgh, care for and maintains the buildings and gardens so that the estate remains much as it was in the early 1900s, and it remains one of the most beautiful examples of a manor house in Scotland.

Tourist information

Lauriston Castle is a popular attraction (at least with Edinburgh locals) so it gets quite busy at the weekend, mainly because the castle has a car park and offers a nice place for dog walkers to take their pooches.

From the on-site car park it’s a short walk onto the lawns of the estate which present superb views of the Firth of Forth, even in the depths of winter.

The extensive grounds are open for visitors to walk around and enjoy daily, but the inside of the house is only accessible during guided tours that are held in summer.

However, the majority of visitors come for the gardens, the highlight of which has to be the Japanese garden which covers over one hectare and is dedicated to the close relationship between the cities of Edinburgh and Kyoto.

Lauriston Castle

These gardens contain a wide array of flowers and plants – many non-native to Scotland – and the entire site is perfect for enjoying a relaxing stroll, especially in summer when the flowers are in full bloom.

There’s also a rose garden, a pond, and a woodland to explore, after which visitors can relax with delicious baked goodies and hot drinks from Mimi’s Bakehouse tucked away in a corner of the castle.


Tourist map of Scotland

2 Cramond Road South,
Edinburgh,
EH4 6AD

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Explore this area with a detailed paper map from Ordnance Survey:

Edinburgh – 350 Explorer.

Edinburgh – 66 Landranger.

OS Explorer Maps: Best for walking, mountain biking, and finding footpaths. 1:25,000 scale (4cm = 1km in real world). Buy OS Explorer maps direct from Ordnance Survey.

OS Landranger Maps: Best for road cycling, touring by car, and finding attractions. 1:50 000 scale (2 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.


Things to do nearby

Dalmeny House. South Queensferry EH30 9TQ. 13-minute drive. A Gothic country mansion built in 1817 that is home to the Earls of Rosebery. The house is open to the public for guided tours in the summer only.

Blackness Castle. Linlithgow EH49 7NH. 25-minute drive. A 15th-century fortress overlooking the Firth of Forth. Blackness Castle is known as the ‘ship that never sailed’ due to its unusual bow-shaped front.

The castle features restored rooms, a Victorian pier and a military barracks with a shop and toilets. Nearby Blackness Bay has footpaths running along the shoreline.

Silverknowes Beach. Edinburgh EH4 5ER. 9-minute drive. A large shingle and sand beach that is famed for its views across the Firth of Forth and Cramond Island. There is a large car park and a wide causeway next to the Gipsy Brae recreation ground.

River Almond Walkway. Caddell’s Row, Cramond, Edinburgh EH4 6HY. 6-minute drive. This picturesque footpath follows the River Almond from Cramond to the outskirts of Edinburgh Airport. The walkway is suitable for cyclists and walkers.

Forth Bridges Viewpoint. 9XY, South Queensferry. 16-minute drive. The Forth Rail Bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is best seen from this viewpoint at the Forth Bridge operations centre.

From the car park it is possible to walk onto the footpath that runs along the Forth Road Bridge.


Frequently asked questions

Is Lauriston Castle free?

Guided tours around the interior of Lauriston Castle are managed by Museums and Galleries Edinburgh. Paid entry only. See their website for the latest tour prices.
There is no entry to Lauriston Castle grounds. Gates are open between 8 am and 4 pm daily.

Who owned Lauriston Castle?

The last owners of Lauriston castle were Mr and Mrs W. R. Reid, and Mrs Reid’s brother Mr William Barton. The Reids were wealthy middle-class business owners who built a large collection of antique furniture and ornaments which they acquired during their worldwide travels.
The castle became a museum following the death of Mrs Reid in 1926.

How old is Lauriston Castle?

Lauriston Castle is a 16th-century tower house on the outskirts of Edinburgh that has large 19th-century extensions.
There was a castle on the site in medieval times, but it was destroyed in 1544.
The tower house was rebuilt in 1590 and the extensions were added in 1827.

Can you take dogs to Lauriston Castle?

Dogs are not allowed inside Lauriston Castle. The extensive grounds are free to visit and dogs are allowed off-lead. Dog bins are provided.