Celebrate the great outdoors this spring with a variety of fantastic days sure to surprise and delight the whole family.
If you crave some fresh air and freedom you can blow away the cobwebs with many fantastic walks which can be combined with a great meal or a visit to one of Midlothian’s many fascinating cultural attractions.
Here are some ideas to get you started and help you discover the best places to explore just an hour’s drive from the city.
Dalkeith Country Park combines beautiful buildings with incredible scenery – take your time in 1,000 acres of history with well-marked walks for all skill levels, plus the park is home to Fort Douglas Adventure Park and Go Ape for some outdoor family fun.
Did you know? Rare species of beetles and lichens live in the Old Oak Forest
A new children’s guide has been launched at Rosslyn Chapel to stimulate little ones’ imaginations, full of child-friendly facts about the medieval chapel and a tour of the interior of the 15th-century building, pointing out key features.
Did you know? In 1650 Cromwell’s troops attacked Rosslyn Castle and lodged their horses in the chapel
Make your own clay sculpture – with a twist at the National Mining Museum. Weathering Earth is a participatory art installation by artist Nicole Manley who attempts to create clay sculptures related to climate change. Sessions are free; Just drop by between 10:30am and 3:00pm. The sculptures are placed outside to weather, rather than being fired for an entirely different finish.
Did you know? Miners used a tin box for their sandwiches to protect them from the rats and mice that lived on the pit floor
Gore Glen Woodland Park is a wildlife and walker’s paradise just half an hour from Edinburgh. It is a great example of an industrial landscape reclaimed by nature and features beautiful woodland, riverside walks and ponds with trail links to Gorebridge and Arniston Estate.
Did you know? At the ranger service you will receive free resource boxes full of useful equipment for diving in ponds or hunting mini beasts.
Vogrie Country Park is open all year round, but early summer is the perfect time to make the most of the 11.5 miles of marked country trails through beautiful woodland. Explore then refuel at the bustling Tree Top Cafe at Vogrie House (which has a soft play area for rainy days) or why not make your own picnic?
Did you know? The calm observer can spot stoats, sparrowhawks, bats and buzzards in the changing colorful wildflowers of this country park just 12 miles from Edinburgh.
See a blacksmith in action
Farrier Sean Broadfoot can be found at Cousland Smiddy on Saturday mornings and weekdays making decorative items in the Smiddy Smithy. This hidden gem is home to an early 18th-century blacksmith workshop, a Victorian cottage, other partially preserved associated buildings and organic allotment gardens, giving visitors a fascinating insight into its heritage – plus activity rooms for the children. See www.couslandsmiddy.co.uk for opening times.
Did you know? There has been a continuously working smiddy at this point in the village since at least 1703.
For a different day, try a carriage ride across the grounds with two of the beautiful giant horses at Peggyslea Clydesdales, a family run business near Penicuik. You can indulge in a Clydesdale for an afternoon or take a carriage ride with a glass of bubbly and afternoon tea.
Did you know? Two of these magnificent creatures have competed three times in the ridden class at the Horse of the Year Show.
Plant lovers will love the Secret Herb Garden Café & Bistro, nestled on seven acres of pristine farmland at the foot of the Pentland Hills, where you can drink and dine among vines, fruit trees and herbs in a beautiful greenhouse. The ever changing menus are freshly prepared daily using the amazingly fresh produce that is grown on site and they even make their own organic items such as gin, tea and honey. Why not come along for a free Secret Garden Gin tasting? Find out more at www.secretherbgarden.co.uk
Did you know? Her brilliant blog has lots of brilliant gardening tips from co-founder Hamish, who has a Diploma in Herbology from the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.