The Lawn and Central Woodlands

The Lawn, historic garden and surrounding wooded areas at the heart of Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh campus were originally laid out as the formal gardens of a country house which dated back to the 15th century.
The formal gardens themselves were laid out in the 18th Century in the prevailing ‘picturesque’ style, while later owners continued improvements to the ground and added collections of exotic trees and plants. Thus the garden design is an overlay of several periods, and its maintenance takes account of historical features, conservation, biodiversity, maintaining the mix of indigenous and exotic plants, and the support of wildlife.
Since the University acquired the Riccarton estate in 1969, care has been taken to safeguard the tranquillity and quality of this area, and the Edinburgh Campus Conservation Committee are consulted on all aspects of landscape conservation, maintenance and management.
Key features include a lawn dating back at least 200 years and containing over 38 plant species as well as dome and drum yew trees; the grassed ‘Velvet Walk’ bordered with yews, holly and laurel; three mature woodland areas, with stone walls and containing Scottish and exotic plantings from the historic collection; and a walled private family cemetery area. In 2017 the university linked up with The Royal Botanic garden Edinburgh as part of the International Conifer Conservation Programme and is now a host to fifty trees, some of which are critically endangered in the wild. These trees can be found on our Tree Trail.
Visitors to the Campus, Lawn and the gardens are welcomed and the University has recently updated the tree, heritage and nature trails using recycled plastic posts with QR codes attached. The codes can be scanned using smart phones or tablets to access information and photographs. We hope that gaining another Green Flag Award will encourage more visitors as well as recognising the achievements of the University and its partners in sustaining these historic gardens.

Park Facilities

Cycle routes
Dog Exercise Area
Free parking
Historic Building
Nature Walks
Picnic Area
Public Transport Links
Walking Routes
Wildflower Area
Green Flag
Award Winner
Managing Organisation
Heriot Watt University
Robbie Fraser