Child-friendly activities and attractions.
Depending on the age group of your children, the following may strike a chord: ( you’ll find links to most of these on the relevant See and Do Pages on this website ).
West Lothian: Almond Valley Heritage Museum and Five Sisters Zoo, both within a 20 min drive from Crosswoodhill
- A day at the beach in Fife or East Lothian
- Walking, exploring the farm, taking a picnic and sitting beside the stream
- Edinburgh: A day at Edinburgh Zoo, Camera Obscura, Our Dynamic Earth, a hike up Arthur’s Seat.
- Museums with special appeal to children: Glasgow Science Museum, Museum of Childhood, Edinburgh, Sensations, Dundee, Museum of Flight and Concorde, East Lothian
- Midlothian: Butterfly World, Newtongrange Mining Museum
- East Lothian: Seabird Centre or a boat trip to Bass Rock
- New Lanark, exploring the buildings and walking up to the Falls
- Stirling area: Blair Drummond Safari Park
- Theme Parks and Children’s Activity centres that could be anywhere: M & D, Strathclyde, and East Links in East Lothian.
Rainy Day suggestions:
Check out the weather forecasts. www.metoffice.com or www.scotsman.com/weather gives a 5 day Scottish forecast map. If it’s going to be dismal everywhere why not escape and lose yourselves:
- inside a huge range of museums and inside attractions in Edinburgh and Glasgow (see individual Area pages for more information and websites)
- in covered arcades in shopping outlets like Livingston Designer Outlet
- in inside attractions in areas like Midlothian, eg. the Mining Museum
- in Historical Houses
- in climbing arenas like the Adventure Centre or Alien Rock or indoor recreational centres
- enjoying cultural activities, maybe a matinee in a theatre, or even the cinema (good choice in Livingston at the Designer Outlet.)
Or stay at home and relax with a book, play games, get out jigsaws and board, and enjoy the freedom of doing what you want, how you want and when you want!
It’s fun but it’s also free!
- Exploring the farm
- Walks, parks, cycling
- Museums in Edinburgh, eg. Museum of Childhood , Chambers St. Museum
- Looking inside the Scottish Parliament
- Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh
- National Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art + free bus going between them
- A walk up Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh for a free panoramic view
- A picnic in Princes St. Gardens, Edinburgh
- Beaches in Fife and East Lothian
- Glasgow Kelvingrove Museum and a huge number of other Glasgow museums
- Picnic in lots of scenic areas eg. near Peebles
- Explorer Pass: pay for this initially but it is not long before you scoop the benefits of extra places to visit.
- VAT of 20% can be reclaimed on goods only under the tax free shopping arrangements at participating stores if you are from outside the European Union. See www.hmce.gov.uk
It’s not so much fun, but it’s also free! Even if you are from overseas, if you become ill while in Scotland you are eligible for free emergency treatment at NHS hospital accident and emergency departments.
And some money-saving tips!
Historic Scotland Explorer Pass: Highly recommended as it gives big savings on the cost of admissions to over 70 of Scotland’s top historical properties including Edinburgh and Stirling Castle and Linlithgow Palace. Available over flexible time periods they can be purchased from any Historic Scotland Property.
National Trust for Scotland: a similar pass but check before you purchase that you really are going to make good use of it. Most of the major historic attractions belong to Historic Scotland.
Great British Heritage Pass: This unique pass is only available to non-UK visitors and gives free entry to almost 600 properties throughout Britain. Details on www.visitbritain.com
Edinburgh Pass: Check out www.edinburghpass.org/pass/ before purchasing and work out if you really are going to use it enough to save money.
Free on-street parking in much of Edinburgh on a Sunday only (but never on double yellow lines) and most shops and attractions are open
Check petrol and diesel prices: they can vary. And look out for brown thistle road signs for Tourist attractions. They will lead you to some of the most spectacular scenery and quality attractions in Scotland. To minimise getting lost and burning up unnecessary fuel take a road map with you (we provide one in the cottage); road signage in Scotland is not one of Scotland’s strengths! And don’t park illegally… it could prove expensive.
Our “not to be missed” choices
- At least a day in Edinburgh
- New Lanark
- Stirling and either the Trossachs or Perthshire
- A day in the Borders
- Linlithgow and Stirling or , if you have children, Almond Valley Heritage Centre
- Try and fit in some theatre, music or culture www.list.co.uk
As they say in Gaelic “ceud mile failte”, or a “hundred thousand welcomes”, you’ll love it here!
Feeling adventurous or part of a large party?
Explore our new Fun Outings / Group Suggestions Page specially created for larger parties staying in our House-on-the-Hill, Craigengar Lodge, but with some inspirational ideas for anyone.
So Where Do We Go From Crosswoodhill?
This first appeared on our website about 16 years ago. Guests frequently told me they loved it. So rather than ditch it, here it is updated for 2015. Skim through it if yours is a short visit to this area and hopefully you’ll promise yourself a return visit to catch up on all the experiences you are missing!
FIRST 12 suggestions:
- If you’ve only one day to spare in EDINBURGH don’t miss the Castle, nearby Camera Obscura, the Royal Mile (on foot, exploring all the wynds, alleyways, closes), the Museum of Childhood (half way down and free) and Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano, a good but easy climb (even for quite young children) with wonderful views. Park at foot of Arthur’s Seat behind The Palace ofHolyroodhouse. Ideal for a picnic. If the weather turns rough, perhaps opt for a guided tour of the Palace instead or pop into Dynamic Earth or the Scottish Parliament. Young children and weary adults would enjoy a multi language commentary "Classic Tour" on open-topped double-decker buses (can be draughty!); you get on and off as you please and get a feel for this wonderful city.
You really need to walk along Princes Street, eyes averted away from the shops, and instead gaze towards the Gardens, good for a picnic, and upwards to the Castle on its precipitous crag. With the wonderful Old Town houses cascading down, it’s really spectacular! As you make your way along Princes Street you can explore the Scott Monument, the Royal Scottish Academy and the National Gallery behind it ( free )
- Go west to GLASGOW, a vibrant city with a string of visitor attractions. Outstanding amongst a wealth of free museums is the Burrell Museum. Enjoy a walk in the grounds there and Pollok House. Easy parking for a small charge. The Kelvingrove Museum, free and recently re-vamped, is drawing the crowds. Equally popular, though not free, is the Glasgow Science Museum, with hundreds of inter-active exhibits, Scotland’s only Imax Cinema, a Planetarium and so much else it makes a whole family could easily lose a day there. Choose a rainy day to be inside!
- Set off for South Queensferry and start with impressive HOPETOUN HOUSE and grounds (only open Spring and Summer months ) Stock up with good Scottish food from the farm shop on the Estate. View Forth Bridges from the rooftop viewing platform and then cruise under the Bridges embarking on the "Maid of the Forth" at South Queensferry for the return trip to idyllic INCHCOLM ISLAND. Wander the island. Take extra clothing for the boat-- can be chilly. If the weather turns nasty forgo the boat trip and Inchcolm and seek shelter with a guided tour of House of the Binns nearby. Or Dalmeny House, also close by (check opening times.)
- Don’t miss the cotton mills of NEW LANARK, Scotland’s most important memorial to the Industrial Revolution and now a World Heritage site. Beautiful setting, fascinating industrial architecture; good museum with theme-park-style ride carrying you through New Lanark’s history. Deserves all the awards it’s had.
After visiting the Mill and Museum walk upstream along the river, tumbling water, gorges, and waterfalls to the Nature Reserve. A wonderful excursion. You might wish to combine this with a drive to BIGGAR which has exceptionally fine small museums (Gladstone Court, Moat Park Heritage Centre, Greenhill, Biggar Gas Works) , all popular with children too. Plus a small puppet theatre in Biggar. If time, climb Tinto Hill slightly west of Biggar, an easy climb with views taking in much of Southern Scotland.
- Explore in and around royal STIRLING and BRAVEHEART COUNTRY. Stirling Castle still watches over the old picturesque old town of Stirling. Below a Visitor Centre stands on the site at Bannockburn where Scotland won independence in 1314 following Robert the Bruce’s victory over English forces. Also close by is the National Wallace Monument , a tribute to Scotland’s first freedom fighter whose struggle to free Scotland from England’s occupation was portrayed in the Oscar-winning movie, Braveheart..
- To extend your day, combine your half day in Stirling with one of these: The Falkirk Wheel, an amazing engineering feat linking canals. The Kelpies, equally amazing. Or a drive to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs ( see VII ) Open seasonally, Blair Drummond Safari Park is popular. Or maybe return South of the Forth to: LINLITHGOW PALACE and CAIRNPAPPLE HILL a few miles away. Windowless, roofless and weathering, the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots is magnificent. Nice loch beside it to walk round, great picnic spot. Feed the ducks.
- At Cairnpapple the views are spectacular, especially rewarding in that it’s such a short climb to this Bronze Age Cairn. If time, Beecraigs Country Park is nice for a wander and popular with children.
- Go west to Callendar, perhaps visit Callendar House, popular with children, and then tour by car the rugged area between CALLENDAR and LOCH LOMOND. Fine scenery and a 100 mile circular route gives a taste of the Highlands in miniature. This is Rob Roy Country; identify with the movie portraying the story of the cattle dealer and outlaw who became a Scottish folk hero. Allow time to walk and explore. Or perhaps take a steam ship on the beautiful waters of Loch Katrine from where you can view breathtaking scenery and the splendour of Scotland’s First National Park, cycle or climb Ben A’an. Nearby Visitor Centre .
- Take the ring-road around Edinburgh to the rolling farmlands of EAST LOTHIAN. A round of golf, perhaps or a visit to see Concorde at the Museum of Flight. You’ll love the Scottish Seabird Centre. The small town of Berwick appeals and has a good beach as does a lot of the East Lothian coastline. Sample the golden water of life at Glenkinchie Whisky Distillery if you haven’t already enjoyed unravelling the mysteries of whisky making (with free tasting) at the excellent Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile ( the latter is a great attraction for those with limited time.)
- A DAY’S WALKING. The choice is limitless. Get up early, drive north into Perthshire and "bag a Munro". Take to the Borders. Or settle for the PENTLANDS on your doorstep which offers a huge range from gentle strolling to more strenuous routes (books with route- maps available at Crosswoodhill). Wild open spaces just a few miles distant from Edinburgh but a thousand miles in atmosphere from the city centre.
- Discover the BORDERS. Wonderful mixture of landscapes, bleak moorland, river valleys, lush pasture with the character of the countryside changing with peculiar rapidity. Peppered with old castles and abbeys telling their tales of Border feuds with England, the Borders also boast quirky towns and woollen mills. Visit gardens, wander round Peebles, delightful shops and atmospheric little town. Stroll along the river path. Some wonderful gardens to visit in the area (seasonal) The Borders boasts some of the best mountain biking terrain in Scotland.
- A lazy day in the garden or around the farm at CROSSWOODHILL. Barbecue available.
If you have your fishing rods with you take advantage of the fishing opportunities in the Lothians, Strathclyde and the Borders, all within easy driving distance. Or hike up the hill and perhaps visit the Covenanters Grave.
Perhaps take a short drive to ALMOND VALLEY HERITAGE CENTRE MUSEUM (enjoyable for all ages but particularly for children) in old Livingston Village. Our local, highly innovative, museum richly deserves its awards and popularity. Or, if you’ve brought your swimming gear with you, introduce your youngsters to "Xcite", our much praised local leisure pool. Opposite is the new Livingston Designer Outlet and another huge retail outlet with big names. A magnet for those hooked on retail bargains!
Alternatively, meander up Crosswoodhill’s own hilly terrain and enjoy a picnic with the sheep and cattle grazing nearby. Read a book, paddle, doze, enjoy the isolation. Follow this perhaps with mingling with the crowds... lots of theatres and culture in Edinburgh, restaurants to suit all tastes. An atmospheric Edinburgh Ghost Walk in the dark later, perhaps. Or join an award-winning Mercat Tour combining haunted locations, candlelit vaults and an excellent history guide.
If you are extending your stay and need a SECOND 11, here are some further ideas:
- A second day in EDINBURGH. Picnic perhaps in Princes Street (children’s play area in Gardens there). Take in some museums, e.g National Gallery, Chambers Street Museum, the Museum of Scotland, the National Portrait Gallery. A huge choice and mainly free. Admire the graceful Georgian architecture of the "New Town": Visit 7 Charlotte Square, The Georgian House to feel at home in an 1820’s drawing room. Bask in the seasonal beauty of the Botanic Gardens and visit the hothouses. Tour the Royal yacht "Britannia" for a taste of how royalty sailed the seas. Visit Dynamic Earth and travel back from the present day to the beginning of time.
- EDINBURGH BUTTERFLY AND INSECT WORLDNBURGH BUTTERFLY AND INSECT WORLD, magical for children and in complete contrast to the black diamonds of nearby Scottish Mining Museum. And for more contrasts in the same area become awe-inspired by mediaeval Rosslyn Chapel, or burn off the last of your energy at Europe’s largest artificial ski slope on the Pentland Hills. Hillend, near Edinburgh, offers a chairlift; boots and skis for hire.
- OVER THE FORTH BRIDGE. Take in the grandeur of the Forth Bridge itself. You may want to call in at Deep Sea World, below the shadow of the Forth Road Bridge and one of the largest aquariums in Britain. Some of our guests absolutely love it, others are deeply disappointed and consider it expensive for the time spent there.
A trip which could perhaps be combined with CULROSS, a lovely little sixteenth century burgh surviving intact in the industrialised upper estuary of the Forth. Explore Fife, with its beaches, fishing villages, renowned golf courses, the lovely palace at Falkland steeped in history, its quaint village and nearby easy hill-climbs with wonderful views.
Or try the Scottish Deer Centre at Cupar. For golf addicts ST. ANDREWS is a must. You can even play on the Old Course. St. Andrew’s is a lovely town in its own right. The non-golfers can enjoy good beaches.
- Raining? Needing to rest weary legs? Does your family originally hail from Scotland? An opportunity exists in Edinburgh to explore your Scottish roots in the Scottish Genealogy SocietyLibrary and Family History Centre. Or by appointment with the Scottish Roots Ancestral Research Service.
OR: Raining but needing a gateway to adventure in the dry? Visit the largest indoor rock-climbing centre ever built. Ratho Quarry houses the biggest and most challenging climbing walls you’ll ever come across. Or enjoy a mix of gym facilities there. Or simply relax with good food in this fantastic place just 15 miles from Crosswoodhill.
- PERTHSHIRE. Over the Forth Bridge and up the motorway to Pitlochry or further to get a taste of Highland Scenery with its lochs, glens and castles. Start early enough and you can get in some walking or hire mountain bikes. Just wonderful.
- BO’NESS STEAM RAILWAY. Evoke the past with a re-creation of a typical Scottish branch-line. Combine this with Birkhill Fireclay Mine and Blackness Castle, perhaps. (Check opening times before setting off to these)
Keen golfers amongst you could perhaps combine this with a round on the local Harburn Golf Course. Visitors welcome and the Golf Club can provide limited clubs if you don’t have them with you!
- A family outing day that will appeal to everyone: wide sandy, almost deserted beaches in EAST LOTHIAN. A bucket and spade day. Bypass Edinburgh on the new ring-road and make for the seaside around Gullane and Dirleton. Water can be a bit chilly and can be invigoratingly windy. Good beaches in Fife too.
- A trip to EDINBURGH ZOO. Splendid location on a hillside where lions, tigers and countless other species prowl around Scotland’s biggest zoo. Penguins a great attraction. A universal favourite with everyone. Parking in nearby streets free. Or perhaps other child-friendly activities appeal? Check some out.
- The GREAT OUTDOORS. Situated on the Pentland Hills as we are, there are just so many lovely walks for varying abilities. Or go further afield, perhaps hire mountain bikes from near Peebles. Lots of Forestry tracks at Glentress, a mecca for mountain-bikers
Or hire bikes from Biketrax Cycle Hire in Edinburgh and explore the (less exhausting for the less fit) flatter cycleways of Edinburgh.
- CRUISE THE CANALS and waterways. Linlithgow and Ratho make good starting points. Visit the Linlithgow Canal Centre . Or go a bit further north, defy gravity and take a ride on the amazing Falkirk Wheel, Scotland’s 2002 modern engineering marvel. Add to the fun by going aboard a state-of-the-art amphibious transporter or a more traditional canal boat. Finally linking the Glasgow and Edinburgh canal network, The Falkirk Wheel is the world’s only rotating boat lift. Impressive!
- Finally, don’t overlook the new attractions making their debut in West Lothian, on your doorstep. Kids will love the touchy-feeliness of the Five Sisters Zoo which also has a soft play area. Visit the Owl Centre and enjoy Polkemmet Country Park. Lots of green spaces to explore.
If here during the EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL and FRINGE FESTIVALS allow time just to mingle, stand and stare and revel in the unique atmosphere. Something happening on every street corner and almost every building; quite mind-blowing. Throughout the year Edinburgh’s cosmopolitan outlook attracts major music, theatre, dance and arts performances. Entertainment to suit all ages and tastes. Why not check out what’s on at the Festival or Kings Theatre during your stay? Or have a look at What’s On in Edinburgh and Glasgow via the "List", the most comprehensive listing of events and entertainment.
Each property at Crosswoodhill is well stocked with guide books, tourist information and leaflets for you to browse and plan your itineraries. No-one yet staying at Crosswoodhill has ever run out of ideas of exciting expeditions. Even poor weather cannot dampen enthusiasms as there is so much undercover for those rainy days. "Scotland the Best" and "Scotland for Kids" offer further ideas. As can your hosts. Useful are the entries by past guests who have recorded their "finds" in a hardback book in each cottage for the benefit of future guests.
And a tip before you venture forth. Bring your imagination, but also check out some money-saving ideas. You may want to purchase a Scottish Explorer Ticket if you intend to visit more than one Historic Scotland property as there are huge savings to be gained. Full details on www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/explorer