The Edinburgh area has a wealth of little known castles, parks and villages all within a short travelling distance of the city, ideal for those have limited time or don't want to travel long distances. These are generally off the tourist trail but well known and loved by the locals.
Crichton Castle built in 1400 looks as if it should be in the Scottish Highlands (it was used in the filming of Rob Roy) but is only 15 miles from Edinburgh city centre. It's actually very tricky to find this castle, which probably accounts for it not being overrun by visitors! It's the isolation that adds to the appeal and the Crichton Collegiate Church nearby is an almost complete medieval church. Nearby is the impressive tower house castle Borthwick Castle, now a hotel, next to the 11th century church. Mary Queen of Scots briefly stayed here and it was later besieged by the forces of Oliver Cromwell. Another hotel in the area which was once a castle is Dalhousie Castle Hotel.
Also in this area and very popular with the locals is Vogrie Estate Country Park. It has an excellent series of gentle country walks allowing you to see the grounds of Vogrie house, built in 1877. The world famous Rosslyn Chapel is the main attraction in the area. Rosslyn Chapel was founded in 1446 with its stunning interior and links to the Knights Templar and the Masons. But what the majority of visitors miss out on is the heavily wooded Roslin Glen with the ruins of Rosslyn Castle looking over the gushing river below.
This part of Midlothian is domiated by the hills of the Pentland Regional Park - once in amongst the glens and reservoir's of the park its hard to believe that Edinburgh city is only minutes away! The Pentlands are where the walking folk of Edinburgh like to go to get away from it all. Walk to the top of Allermuir Hill for great views of Edinburgh and beyond.
Other options include Blackness Castle, Craigmillar Castle, Linlithgow Palace, House of the Binns, South Queensferry and the Forth Bridges, Houptoun House in West Lothian and the modern engineering marvel of the Falkirk Wheel.