A walk in the Craigmillar WIAT (Woods in and Around Towns)

The days are getting shorter, so the chance to get out and top up the Vitamin D whenever I fancy is one of the undoubted benefits of self-employment. When I can combine it with some geological work, even better. Hills of Hame offers a guided geological walk in this area, which is dominated by Craigmillar Castle.


Today I headed out to Craigmillar Castle Park with Shadow the dog to do some work at an exposure of the Kinnesswood Formation created by quarrying for stone in Hawkhill Wood. The woodland areas in Craigmillar Castle Park were enhanced by Woods in and around Towns (WIAT), a scheme run by Forestry Commission Scotland. Interestingly, the unit in the City of Edinburgh responsible for Natural Heritage is now titled the Forestry and Natural Heritage Service.


The woods and quarry at Hawkhill have been made more accessible by new cycleways and footpaths. You can read about the uses that the stone from Hawkhill was out to around Edinburgh and beyond in this excerpt from McMillan et al. (1999) The Building Stones of Edinburgh using the BGS Earthwise site.

When I’m out geologizing or fossicking, I carry a different compass from my regular Silva Expedition 4, venerated for having the 1:40000 romer for Harvey British Mountain Maps. My Silva Clino-compass is a sighting type compass that also has a clinometer unit, which is used in geological work to measure angles from horizontal but can also be used to calculate the angle of slopes in winter as part of assessing avalanche risk on the ground.



During my explorations in Hawkhill, I’ve found a particularly nice set of rock exposures that show a range of sedimentary features in 3D. During an Edinburgh Geological Society field trip I led earlier this year people found evidence of the holes drilled for blasting in the quarry.

However, the final photo I took shows the important role of vegetation in contributing to the weathering of rocks, with tree roots shattering the rocks.


I am a palaeobiologist in my early 40's carrying out research work. I am based in Scotland.

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Posted in Geodiversity, Geological Walks (urban), Scotland, Woodlands
One comment on “A walk in the Craigmillar WIAT (Woods in and Around Towns)
  1. […] instead having the pleasure of, like today, reading about visits to the National Archives, walking near to Craigmillar Castle, a sheep dog promoting the Scottish Outdoor Access Code or an appreciation of the baseball player […]

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Al is a Summer Mountain Leader
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