Located in Edinburgh, to the western end of the valley which runs from Comiston to Liberton, between Blackford Hill and the Braid Hills, is the Hermitage of Braid. Comprising some 53 ha (130 acres), together with a fine 18th Century mansion, the area is today a local nature reserve managed by the City of Edinburgh Ranger Service.
The name 'Braid' may derive from the De Brad family who were associated with the area from the times of King David I (c.1080 - 1153) until 1305. Braid Castle existed nearby from the 12th Century until the 18th Century In the 17th Century the area became part of the estate of William Dick of Grange. A house was erected in the early 18th Century which was plundered by Prince Charles Edward Stuart (1720-88) and his army.
The current Hermitage House was completed in 1785 by architect Robert Burn (1752 - 1815) for Charles Gordon of Cluny, who had purchased the land in 1772. The house has a three-bay ashlar front, with corner turrets, mock battlements and, inside, fine plasterwork and fireplaces.
The Hermitage was presented to the city in 1938 and was used as a home for the Parks Superintendent until 1966, and thereafter by the Scout Association. The house became a Visitor Information Centre in 1979, after having lain empty for some years, and was later subject to a major renovation. Together with the neighbouring Blackford Hill, the area was designated a local nature reserve in 1993.
Today, visitors can enjoy walks, study various displays in the visitor centre in the house, and can also see the 18th Century Ice House, a large lectern Doo'cot (with 1965 nest-boxes) once a valuable source of meat, and an ingenious water pump, which drew water from the Braid Burn. A haven for wildlife, the Hermitage includes mixed broad-leaf woodland, grassland, scrub, freshwater and marsh, together with a range of birds and animals, such as woodpeckers, owls, warblers, voles, shrews and bats.