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Innocent Walkway

Back to Craigmillar Castle ParkOn to Innocent Walkway Continued

This area is the most easily accessible area of wildlife for people with mobility difficulties, as it has a paved path running along its length.

Starting at the tunnel, there is an Elder bush next to the tunnel entrance. It's bark is spongier than tree bark, and feels like tough cork to touch. The berries, leaves and bark give different coloured dyes, which were very important for making Harris Tweed. 

The berries are good food for blackbirds and thrushes, and humans, as we can use them to make wine and syrup. The flowers have a strong scent and are particularly attractive to hoverflies. They can also be used by us to make tea, wine, cordial and ‘elderflower champagne’.

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Elder bush beside Bingham Tunnel - Spring

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Coppiced Lime trees in early spring

Over by the houses are six coppiced Common Lime trees. Coppicing is a way of producing a supply of medium pieces of wood for fires, furniture and building. Basically, the main trunk of a tree is cut, leaving a stump, which produces lots of shoots from round the rim. These can get quite big, and can be cut every 5–15 years, depending on the type of tree and what the wood is to be used for. 

Coppicing is still done in some woodlands, mainly for nature conservation, (because coppiced woodlands support many plants and animals). It also provides material for traditional crafts, such as green woodworking (making things from freshly cut, or ‘unseasoned’ wood).

Back to the path, and through the gateway …

On the right-hand-side are Wild Raspberry canes covered in Hedge Bindweed. Look out for Bluebells in spring (known as ‘Hyacinths’ by many Scots). 

The plants here are typical wasteground plants, known as weeds in most gardens! However, they are very valuable for wildlife. Moths and butterflies lay their eggs on Brambles, Stinging Nettles and Dock, and their caterpillars eat the leaves. 

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Tortoiseshell butterfly on
Stinging Nettles - early summer

Beech tree - autumn

Next up is a large Beech tree leaning over the path. The bark is knobbly , with about five different mosses growing at the base of its trunk. How many can you find? 

See if you can find Lesser Celandine under this tree in spring. It has kidney-shaped leaves and yellow flowers.

 There are also lichens growing here. Lichens might look like individual plants to us, but they're actually made up of algae and fungi. The green algae make sugars for energy, and the fungi provide minerals from the soil. Lichens are very sensitive to air quality, so they can be used as indicators of pollution levels. 

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Lichen and moss on a rock

In the springtime, underneath the trees on the right of the path, look out for Few-flowered Leek. It has white flowers and you can smell its onion smell from quite a distance! Also in the spring is Lesser Celandine - with its kidney-shaped leaves and yellow starry flowers. Many of the flowering plants that exist on the ground here are spring-flowering. They come up and flower before there are too many leaves on the trees, so they can get enough sunlight. They will then set seed and the flowers will die back before the summer.

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White Snowberries 'caught' in twigs of bushes. Winter frost on plants below.

Next, there's a thick wall of Holly and Snowberry, beside the lamp-post. Snowberry comes from North America. It is very invasive and doesn’t support as much wildlife as native British shrubs. It produces very pretty, round, white berries in winter, which look like snow caught in its bare branches. But these aren't really eaten by British animals, so they don't have a lot of value for local wildlife.

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Go explore for yourself!