The summer holidays are upon us, and parents up and down the country are looking for ideas to entertain the kids without breaking the bank. We’ve compiled a list of five free days out you can enjoy this summer around the Highlands.
Who doesn’t love a day out at the beach? Why not head to Nairn Beach for a day of sun, sea and ice-creams (this being Scotland, sun can not be guaranteed). With beautiful views across the Moray Firth, long stretches of golden sand, and amenities close-by, Nairn beach is regarded as one of the best beaches in the North of Scotland. Charlie Chaplin used to come here on holiday, so it must have something going for it!
Things to do:
- Have a look for signs of life in the rock pools scattered around the beach. You could use it as an opportunity to teach children about the variety of animals that live around our coastlines.
- Comb the beach for shells. Can you identify what creatures once inhabited them? Why not take some home and try making a necklace? Find out how here.
- Have an ice cream from the tea room located right next to the beach. Just watch out for the seagulls!
It’s not quite Niagra Falls, but it’s pretty impressive nonetheless, and it’s right here on our doorstep. Rogie Falls is located close to Contin, and features a beautiful forest, the spectacular waterfalls, and well maintained paths.
Things to do:
- If you’re there late in summer, keep an eye out for wild salmon (they spawn at this time of year).
- Walk over the impressive looking suspension bridge. There’s a great view from the bridge, perfect for a photo opportunity.
- Take a closer look at the plants and trees in the area. Why not use the opportunity to teach your children the names of some of the plants and trees we get in Scotland. If you need a refresher, take a look at Scotland’s Native Trees and Shrubs.
Whin Park is about a 20 minute walk from the centre of Inverness, and is open 365 days of the year, with free entry and free car parking. Whin Park is the largest outdoor park in Inverness.
Things to do:
- Treat your children to a ride on Whin Park’s miniature railway. Featuring two locomotives (one steam powered!), the track is over one and half miles long and features views of the River Ness. Passengers under 4 get to ride for free; for over 4’s there is a charge of £2.
- Inside the park there is a large boating pond, with 27 rowing boats and paddle boats for hire.
- Other features of the park include a large play area with slides, swings, rope climbs, a children’s assault course, picnic areas, and an ice-cream and coffee shop.
Find out more about Whin Park by visiting their website.
Located between Fortrose and Rosemarkie on the Black Isle is Chanonry Point, widely regarded as one of the best places for dolphin spotting in the North of Scotland.
The best time for dolphin spotting is on a rising tide. This handy website can tell you what time that will be on a particular day, which should make it easier to plan your trip.
If you fancy taking the kids for a nice stroll or a cycle this summer, you could do a lot worse than heading to Culloden Woods. Some of the highlights of the area include:
- The trees of Culloden Woods cover part of the site of the Battle of Culloden, when in 1746 the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart were defeated in battle by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland. If the children in your party have any interest in Scottish history, Culloden is a great place to encourage their learning.
- “A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood…“. Culloden Woods features ‘The Gruffalo Walk’, which features a variety of statues and carvings relating to Julia Donaldson’s famous book. A perfect photo opportunity for any little ones who are fans of the Gruffalo.
- Remember to take a few pennies with you to throw down ‘St. Mary’s Well’. This is a cloutie well; legend has it that if you tie a rag or cloth to a nearby tree, any ailments you may be suffering will be transferred to the tree. Whether you believe this or not, it may be worth stopping for a look at this unique piece of Scottish tradition.
That’s our list! We hope you manage to get some inspiration for something to do with the children in your life this summer.
Have we missed anything? If you know of any free days out in the Highlands, please leave your suggestion in the comments below!