There’s so much to see and do in Edinburgh’s city centre, however, if you’re a local who fancies a change of scene or a visitor who would rather avoid the city’s busier, more well-known attractions, Newhailes Estate is a lovely option for a countryside day trip.
Located near Musselburgh, Newhailes Estate stretches out over 80-acres and is cared for by the National Trust for Scotland. At the heart of the estate is Newhailes House, one of the most impressive 17th-century Palladian villas in Scotland. The house is most notably linked with the influential Dalrymple family who acquired it in 1709 and continuously inhabited it for nearly 300 years.
If you’d like to learn more about its historyand take a look inside, you can pre-book tickets online or join a tour on the day. The tour lasts just under an hour and you’ll be guided through the grand country house by a knowledgeable volunteer. The current tour has a heavy emphasis on the house’s historywith the Dalrymple family and I don’t want to give too much away but you’ll learn about the ‘black sheep’ of the family, the troubles that plagued the Dalrymples, as well as the family’s financial decline which resulted in looting and vandalism of the property.
At the moment, there’s only one tour to choose from but there are plans to add two further tours by late summer, including one that focuses on the property’s architecture as well as a family-friendly version. If you don’t have time for a tour but would still like to see thehouse, not to worry, a path just a short distance from the car park will give you a great view of its exterior!
Beside Newhailes House is the recently refurbished Stables, previously the stables block to Newhailes House, which reopened this year to include a Welcome Hub, Stables Café, The Dairy (a takeaway ice cream parlour), and a studio belonging to their resident potter A.M Ceramic which is open on the weekends. The Stables Café is a rustic and homey café with plenty of outdoor seating.
Lunch options include soup, sandwiches, baked potatoes, filled rolls, and there are also vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free options available. Those who fancy tea and cake won’t be disappointed either! Before you set off to explore the grounds, it’s worth visiting the Welcome Hub for information on the various walking routes to explore the grounds so you don’t miss any highlights such as the 18th-century tea house, the mysterious shell grotto, and the Ladies’ Walk.
Lastly, if you’re visiting with little ones, Newhailes Estate is also home to the Weehailes Playpark – an extremely popular adventure park themed on the Newhailes story and the role it played during the Scottish Enlightenment.
How to get here from Edinburgh’s city centre: If you have access to a car, Newhailes Estate is roughly 30-minutes from the city centre. By bus, it’ll take roughly 45-minutes on the Lothian Bus 30 and there’s a stop right outside the estate. By train, takes roughly 5-minutes with a short walk from Musselburgh train station to the estate. Newhailes Estate is open all year round and entrance is free, however, the House and Wee hailes Playpark are ticketed and closed for a portion of the year.