Walk length: 1.5 miles
Gradient: Very low
Dogs allowed: Yes
Disabled access: Yes, most of the estate is on the flat with several wide paths covering the main areas
Cammo Estate is one of Edinburgh’s hidden gems, with a fascinating history and some beautiful flora and fauna waiting to be discovered.
Now a council-owned nature reserve, Cammo was once one of Edinburgh’s grandest and most private residences. This short walk uncovers some of its secrets, including the ruins of Cammo House itself, the overgrown walled garden and the striking Cammo Tower.
The walk starts at the main gate of the estate, where a 19th century lodge house now serves as a ranger and visitor centre. A grand tree-lined avenue proceeds along a shallow incline until you reach a clearing dominated by the ruins of Cammo House.
This was built in the 1690s for landowner John Menzies and passed through the generations into several different families, eventually falling into disrepair (and some may say disrepute) before being vacated by the last owner, a reclusive spinster who lived in the house until the 1950s. Some say she still haunts the estate grounds…
It is worth making a short detour at this point to see the mighty ash tree in the woods of the estate, probably the oldest in Edinburgh. Its trunk is twisted and gnarled, and its canopy covers a substantial area. A small clearing underneath the branches can serve as an impromptu picnic area.
Retrace your steps to the house and view the ornamental canal. 140 feet long, it is part of the estate’s 18th century landscaping by Sir John Clerk of Penicuik, and although overgrown with aquatic plants and foliage, it still impresses.
Wooded paths lead off towards the walled garden, another feature of Clerk’s and used in the estate’s heyday as a kitchen garden. Although the wall remains, the garden has returned completely to nature, with many wild plants and flowers having taken root there.
As the wood falls away, you’ll find yourself at another ruin: the stable buildings, dating from 1811. The masonry here is unstable and signs warn against venturing within, but the building is better preserved than the main house and is a fine example of early 19th century architecture.
From here, you cannot fail to notice Cammo Tower, a disused structure once serving as the water tower for the estate. Now home to the many birds which roost there, it dominates the field in which it stands and is viewable from nearby Craigs Road. Behind the tower, an artificial hillock sits, topped with trees. This is worth the gentle ascent for open views from its low summit.
Turning back towards the woods, another path leads back to the main house, from where you return along the tree-lined drive. On the right as you make your way back towards the gate sits the Cammo Stane, an ancient solitary standing stone, predating the rest of the estate by hundreds of years.
As you ponder its history and the faded grandeur of the estate itself, make your way back to the entrance to complete this short yet fascinating walk.
View a full-size version of the map of the Cammo Estate walk.