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Friday, 18 July 2014

Travel: Day trips from Edinburgh during the Summer

Edinburgh is lovely during the summer, especially when the weather is dry. July is relatively quiet in the city compared to the frenzy when the Edinburgh Fringe, International and Book Festivals take place in August. The chaos can be fun, but sometimes it can be a bit of a relief to leave the city for a while, even just for a day. All my day trip suggestions will take just a few hours and are suitable for everyone, including kids.
Cramond Beach is in the north of the city and can be reached by car or the Number 41 Lothian bus. This is a popular location for families, runners and dog-walkers. It has a cafe and a pub and an ice-cream van is parked along the promenade during the summer. The Cramond Kirk is very pretty and the 'secret' walled children's play park can be found just past the kirk hall. The highlight of any visit to Cramond, however, is the walk across the causeway to Cramond Island, which is one mile out to sea. The causeway is only accessable at low tide, so it is crucial to check tide-times in advance of any visit and also to check the safe crossing times at the entrance to the causeway and leave enough time for the return leg.

Linlithgow is a charming town to the west of Edinburgh  and Linlithgow Palace, which is now a beautiful ruin, was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots. The town can be reached by train from Edinburgh and a typical journey takes about 20 minutes. The Linlithgow Canal Centre is a 5 minute walk from the train station and during the summer, boat trips from 30 minutes to 2 hours are run during the afternoons. This is a wonderfully relaxing way to while away an afternoon. For the more active, a walk around the picturesque Linlithgow Loch takes about 45 minutes, and has wonderful vistas of the palace.

Craigie's Farm is north of Edinburgh, near to the cute town of South Queensferry. The farm is very popular with families, walkers and cyclists. Dogs are welcome in the Canine cafe. There are woodland trails surrounding the farm, as well as farm animals, a small playground and delicious ice-cream in the farmshop.  It has a cafe and deli with views to the Firth of Forth but the main attraction during the summer months is fruit picking. This year we've picked strawberries and raspberries, but the farm also has gooseberries, red and blackcurrants and cherries, though the latter are only available for picking later in the season. The fruit has been abundant whenever we've visited and  was absolutely delicious. The only problem we've had is stopping ourselves from picking too much! Our pantry is now well-stocked with jam! Remember to check their online crop report before setting off.

Jupiter Artland is a beautiful sculpture park located close to Wilkieston, to the west of the city. Artworks are scattered through wood and parkland. It is open between May and September and visitors are provided with a map and are free to browse the grounds at their leisure, though there is an admission fee. The works are very thought-provoking and some stay with you for a while after you've left. This is a wonderful way of introducing art to kids, especially younger ones. There is a cafe and shop as well as a gallery that houses some temporary installations. A magical experience which really benefits from repeated visits. Definitely one of my happy places!



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