ONE of the region’s most popular country parks has unveiled plans for an overhaul designed to attract more visitors and more “high profile” events.
Dalkeith Country Estate is to mark a new phase in its 300-year history by replacing and relocating its popular adventure playground within the grounds whilst also providing new retail and food units.
The new-look country estate is to be ready for next summer when it is due to host prestigious horse eventing competition the Central Scotland Horse Trials – an event in which the Queen’s granddaughter and Olympic champion Zara Phillips has competed in recent years.
Organisers have relocated to Dalkeith after 20 years at Scone Palace in Perthshire.
Another event already pencilled in for next year is the second ever Scottish Tough Mudder, being held on Saturday, August 24. The popular ten to 12-mile obstacle course is designed by Special Forces to test fitness, stamina and mental strength and draws thousands of competitors.
Owned by the Duke of Buccleuch, the 500-acre country estate’s adventure playground is a popular family destination whilst its woodland walks attract groups from all over Scotland.
Estate bosses are currently finalising plans to submit to authorities for approval.
The estate will remain open to visitors from 10am to 5pm daily while work is being carried out.
Iain Herbert, visitor services manager for Dalkeith Country Estate said: “We are very excited about our plans.
“Our adventure playground has been a family favourite for generations and our new facility will offer a bigger and better experience. We are pressing ahead with the development of the estate and the first signs our visitors will see is the dismantling of the current playground, set to take place in the next couple of weeks.
“It marks a new era for the estate which we believe will really put it on the map as a must-visit tourist destination; we look forward to unveiling more of our exciting developments once approval from the relevant bodies has been granted.”
The refurbishment news has also been welcomed by keen walker and Dalkeith Community Council chair Rae Beatson, who said: “At present people have to pay £5 to get in which if you don’t use the playground doesn’t offer much value for money. It’s very popular with walkers and with some new shops and a place to eat I’m sure it will become even more so.
“To be honest, it’s been very much in need of a makeover and I’m happy to hear of these planned improvements. Old estates such as Dalkeith need to keep up-to-date, they can’t afford to rest on their laurels.
“It’s a big enough estate that I’m sure any work won’t impact on any neighbours. Once completed it should greatly help in attracting more tourists into the area.”