Blackford Hill

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Blackford hill
Edinburgh Royal Observatory.JPG
The Edinburgh Royal Observatory on Blackfoot Hill
Range: Hills of Edinburgh
Summit: 538 feet 55.917 -3.2

Blackford Hill stands within the townscape of Edinburgh in Midlothian, rising to 538 feet above sea level. It is in the city area of Blackford, between Morningside, and the Braid Hills. The top of the hill bears an ancient hill fort, a modern radio transmitter, a weather station and the Edinburgh City Observatory.

Together with the Hermitage of Braid, Blackford Hill forms the 149-acre 'Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Hill Local Nature Reserve', within which stands Hermitage House.[1]

Historical interest

There is an ancient hill fort on the summit area of the hill, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.[1]

Blackford Hill was bought by the Edinburgh Corporation in 1884, and the adjacent Hermitage of Braid estate was given to the City of Edinburgh in 1938, by its final owner, John McDougal. The gift allowed the Hermitage to be used as “a Public Park or Recreation Ground for the benefit of the citizens.” The City of Edinburgh Council retains ownership of the park and is primarily responsible for its maintenance.[1]

Wide view of Edinburgh from Blackford Hill


The hill has clear views over Edinburgh to the north, and the Pentland Hills to the south. It is popular with walkers, as it has many well established paths, as well as runners and other leisure users. There is a wide range of flora and fauna within a green belt area of Edinburgh, making it an important target for conservation.[1] Around half of the area is unimproved grassland.[1]

The Royal Observatory, Edinburgh is located near the summit. The hilltop also features a police radio transmitter and a meteorological station. Craigmillar Park golf course is situated to the east of Blackford Hill, near the observatory, and the Midmar allotments and Blackford Pond are adjacent to the hill on the north side.

Midmar paddock is adjacent to the hill. Owned by the A J Laing Trust[1] proposals to develop it have attracted controversy.


There are around 30 acres of mature woodland on the hill, as well as some new trees on a reclaimed landfill mound planted in the late 1990s as part of the Millennium Forest Community Woodland.[1]


Blackford Hill is formed from Lower Devonian volcanic rocks, lying between Upper Devonian sandstone, the northernmost extent of those found in the Pentland Hills to the South. Geologically the hill is different from the Carboniferous volcanic plugs and intrusions which form the remainder of Edinburgh's hills, with the exception of the nearby Braid Hills.

Of geological and historical interest is Agassiz Rock, a quarry-like feature, situated close to the hill, which was the first evidence of the action of glaciers to be found in the British Isles, recognised by the Swiss geologist Louis Agassiz.[2] It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.[1]

Braid Burn

The Braid Burn is the principle watercourse, flowing for some two miles through the nature reserve. It is a small river, typically around five yards wide by eight inches deep, although subject to significant variation. At this location it is approximately half way along its course of 20 miles from a spring in the Pentland Hills, to its mouth at Portobello. There is a tunnel around 130 yards long in the vicinity of the House.[1]

Blackford Pond

Blackford Pond lies to the north of the hill, and is popular with families.

Outside links


Hills of Edinburgh

Arthur's SeatBlackford HillBraid HillsCalton HillCastle RockCorstorphine HillCraiglockhart Hill • (Pentland Hills)