Edinburgh boasts more green space, proportionally, than any other city in the UK, accounting for nearly one half of its total coverage. The Meadows is one of the city’s most popular open areas, featuring a café, children’s play area, tennis courts and a croquet club, as well as hosting the Meadows Marathon annually as well as several travelling circuses.
Historically, the Meadows has a curious past. Once the site of the Burgh Loch, which provided the Old Town with most of its drinking water, it was transformed in the 18th century into an elegant park, featuring hedges, lime trees, paths and a summer house, although full public right of way wasn’t granted until later. By this time, the park enjoyed legal protection against building development, guaranteeing its survival for Edinburgh’s citizens for eternity. In the late 19th century, the Meadows became the focus for association football, with Hibernian and Heart of Midlothian using the land for training, as well as hosting the first derby match between the clubs in 1875. In World War 2, the Meadows proved its adaptability, accommodating 500 allotments to sustain the nation during the long period of rationing.
Today the Meadows remains an enduringly popular part of Edinburgh, playing a key role in the social and sporting life of the city’s residents throughout the year.