We'd been to the historic Dalkeith Country Park in Midlothian many times before, but not since their recent £7million revamp. We didn't know how dog friendly it would remain - would it be taken over by prams and pushchairs, leaving little room for families and their dogs to enjoy this wonderful setting?
It's safe to say we were suitably impressed at the hard work that has - and still is - going on to redevelop the park.
The roads have been improved, the catering facilities - although we didn't go in - looked classy, and everything just looked very professional, clean and welcoming.
There is plenty of parking near all the facilities, and a one-way system ensures there are no scary head-on moments on the narrow roads.
Yet again we were so proud of the dog friendly spirit in Scotland, as most of the park is accessible to your dog.
Online advice states "dogs are not allowed in Restoration Yard or Fort Douglas and are kept on a lead in the Palace Field area until across Montagu Bridge." That seems pretty reasonable to me, as there are many countries (some not too far away!) where dogs would not be made as welcome like this.
The River North Esk runs through the park, and is where we went with the dogs straight away to give them a swim and tire them out.
There hasn't been much rain recently (amazingly) so the water levels were low and we easily found a few safe spots to throw the ball into. As usual, we saw minimal wildlife due to the Barkly Twins, but did see some Dippers with their chicks.
Oh and a duck. We saw a duck. There's loads of signs telling you about the wonderful flora and fauna in the park, but that's pretty much as close as we came to any of it. I didn't take a picture of the duck.
I hadn't seen this before - a field fenced off and specifically welcomes dogs to be let off their leads.
I think it's a rather good idea - a safe space. Do note, however, that it is not a 100% secure field, so dogs that are a high flight risk will still need to be watched very carefully.
Fort Douglas is a new adventure area for kids, and I mean the non-furry kind of kid. We were with a friend who went in with her (human) offspring, and she said it was a good, fun place.
I'm sure there are reviews of it elsewhere online, and I bet they are positive. All I know for sure is that although dogs are, sensibly, not allowed inside the Fort, they tell you this using one of the best dog images possible.
And to be fair, Fort Douglas does look excellent from the outside, making me wish I was a small child instead of a six foot tall one.
Worth taking the dogs?
There was a worry before re-development began here that it would commercialise too much in the direction of families with children over families with dogs, but that simply hasn't happened.
Whilst some of the roads are a bit busier with cars than before, that's a small price to pay for a vastly improved park, and I'd rather have it that way and have it used by the community than let it slip into disrepair. We barely touched the number of walks you could go on here, each one different from the next. You dog will surely love all the smells and new sights in a park that is also a working farm. We really do recommend you spend time here.
Here's a few shots we took to encourage you to visit and have a look around this new jewel in the crown of Midlothian's parks.
And as ever, we're always looking out for new walks in the Lothians, so if you have any you think we would love and could review, leave a comment below.