Swanston Village

Despite its name, Swanston Village is a small hamlet nestled under the northern slopes of the Pentland Hills. As it’s slightly out of the city centre, this hidden gem is often forgotten about but it’s the perfect place to head to if you’re looking for a day out in the countryside. The hamlet’s roots can be traced back to 1214 when it formed part of the Barony of Redhall. In the early 18th-century, ten thatched cottages were built on the farmland. If you live in Scotland or have visited, you may have noticed that thatched cottages are quite rare so the fact that most of Swanston Village’s thatched cottages have remained is reason in itself to visit this charming hamlet. Beyond that, there’s a lovely café, links to one of Scotland’s most famous authors, picturesque scenery, and the odd Highland Coo. So, let’s take a look around.

Whether you’re driving or walking, there’s a good chance you’ll approach Swanston Village from Swanston Road and you’ll spot the Swanston Brasserie straight ahead of you. Take the first road on your right which will lead you past Swanston Farm’s old steading buildings (some of which have been renovated and turned into holiday cottages) and continue along the path until you reach a grand white house called Swanston Cottage. Calling it a cottage is being very modest as it’s more akin to a country villa. The house was built in 1762 by the Town Council and leased by Robert Louis Stevenson’s parents during the summer months. As a result, Stevenson spent time there during his late teens to twenties and describes it in his book Edinburgh: Picturesque Notes “A bouquet of old trees stands round a white farmhouse; and from a neighbouring dell, you can see smoke rising and leaves ruffling in the breeze. Straight above, the hills climb a thousand feet into the air.”. If you continue along the path, it’ll bring you to one of the Pentland Hills’ walking routes. However, let’s double back to Swanston Road where you can pop into the Swanston Brasserie. The café offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, plus, thanks to its location, it also has fantastic views of the Pentlands and over towards Edinburgh.

Next to Swanston Brasserie is a car park and if you cut through it, you’ll find a path leading upward through a forest. The woodland path guides you over Swanston Burn and you’ll soon emerge into Swanston Village. The hamlet consists of seven thatched cottages, a handful of old stone cottages which were once farm workers’ homes, Swanston Old School House, and the Farmhouse. It won’t take you long to walk around the place but keep an eye out for small details like the Victorian post box and their resident chickens. There are also a few benches dotted around if you’d like to spend a few moments soaking up the tranquil atmosphere. Beside the thatched cottages is a path which will connect you with the Pentland Hills if you’re interested in extending your walk. There are various routes but one of the closest trails to Swanston is the ‘Capital View’ trail and as the name suggests boasts magnificent views over Edinburgh and beyond.

How to visit from Edinburgh’s City Centre: The easiest way to visit Swanston is by car but a 30-minute bus journey from Princes Street to Swanston Road bus stop will bring you within walking distance.

Written by Shawna Law

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