Located not far from the village of Colinton and next to the Dreghorn Barracks lies one of Edinburgh’s many open green spaces, the Dreghorn Woods. The area is lush with coniferous trees and the air is filled with the sounds of various birds. What makes this particular forest so unique is that hidden on either side of the Braid Burn River are the remains of training facilities from World War I.
These earth worn ditches are an exceptional example of what was a common practice in many areas of the United Kingdom during this time, readying troops for battle in mainland Europe. They are perhaps only one of a handful of surviving training trenches that can be found throughout Scotland. They offer historical significance, as they document the type of trenches that were used during WWI.
Though the surrounding area was purchased by the War Department in 1913, it would outlive its usefulness after 1918. It would be another century before a descendant of a WWI soldier re-discovered the importance of the area. Lynne Gladstone-Miller contacted Historic Environment Scotland and began a campaign to preserve the area.
Know Before You Go
Because of the nature of the terrain, it is advisable to wear practical footwear and to choose a dry day to explore.
Though there are information boards placed sporadically throughout the woods, the trenches on the north side are easier to spot and access.
Over the years many of the trenches have filled with earth and are now only a few inches in depth so keep a good look out as they may not be immediately obvious.
Please be aware that off-road cyclists like to use these woods.
Lothian Bus No. 27 (Hunters Tryst) has a stop just at the entrance.