Grounds and Wildlife
The grounds at Hopetoun are the perfect place to watch and enjoy wildlife. From quiet woodland corners to the beautiful spring garden, there is something to look out for throughout the year. You can download the Hopetoun Grounds Map to help you plan your visit and find your way around the grounds and the two trails, the Spring Garden Trail and the Sea Walk Trail.
Download and print a nature detectives sheet here to help you enjoy your visit in the grounds at Hopetoun, or pop into the Ranger Centre to collect one before your walk.
Geocaching is a global treasure hunt, with thousands of caches hidden all over the world for you to explore and find with a GPS enabled device. Hopetoun has one Geocaching trail- the Hopetoun Hop. For those already familiar with Geocaching, download theHopetoun Hop or visit the Geocaching website for more information.
Hopetoun has its very own permanent Orienteering course. If you fancy something a little different whilst visiting the grounds, you can pick up a map pack from the ticket Kiosk for £2 and enjoy the thrill of Orienteering around the grounds of Scotland’s finest stately home.
The course is designed in such a way that lets you explore all 100 acres of the grounds at Hopetoun, with controls situated from the North Deer park overlooking the forth, to the Southern edge of the Spring Garden giving you an energy filled visit.
The Edinburgh Southern Orienteering Club helped to install and maintain the course and run meets at Hopetoun and other locations throughout the year. For more information on Orienteering, please visit their website.
Enjoy the blooms of the Spring Garden. Follow the way markers and use the trail guide available from the Kiosk or the Ranger Centre to guide you through the wonderful array of planted and wild plants shrubs in the historic Spring Garden.
Snowdrops and Daffodils are the first to delight with Rhododendrons and Azaleas putting on a marvellous display as the months go on.
Folklore steeped Bluebells carpet the south woods and wilderness and primroses display an understated beauty along the Sea Walk Trail
During Spring birds such as Long Tailed Tits and Great Tits can be seen busying around making nests, and singing loudly. Head to Hopes walk to enjoy the birds showing off in the trees.
House Martins create their nests on the ornate carvings on the Houses East façade. Enjoy the hunting displays of the Swallows catching flying insects over the West lawn between May and September.
From June, a visit to the deer park is a must to see the Deer calves. The Hopetoun Red Deer herd live in the park between the Sea Walk Trail and the shore and produce new calves every year. The babies will be flecked with white spots for the first couple of months and will never be far from their mother’s side.
Enjoy the changing colours of the ancient trees at Hopetoun with Sweet Chestnut, Beech and Birch trees all providing golden colours. The Lime lined avenue to the south of the house is a great place to enjoy a colourful stroll on a crisp autumn day.
Watch out for the fungi on the lawns, with crimson and parrot waxcaps of bright red and green popping up on the horseshoe lawns to the East of the house, and clouded agarics and other woodland fungi appearing in rings under the trees in the wooded areas.
Hopetoun has internationally important fungi lawns and on a moist autumn day, you will be able to see them in their full splendour.
With the house winding down, so too do the wildlife, the Swallows have flown south, the Squirrels have finished collecting food stores and the trees have shed their leaves.
Looked after by the Ranger Service, the Red Deer grow thicker, darker coats and sit out the long winter months waiting for the spring to arrive and the grounds visitors to return.
With snow on the ground, it is easy to track the movements of the Hopetoun residents, showing where the foxes and badgers are passing through to hunt or where birds such as Pheasants have been walking.
Follow the Hopetoun Wildlife year with the Hopetoun Ranger Service Facebook page and regular updates in the Ranger Centre. With information on wildlife sightings and the opportunity to borrow resources to explore local flora and fauna, the Ranger Centre is a necessary stop on any visit to Hopetoun House and Grounds.
This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage