Wondering how to entertain the kids over the Easter break? Hire a motorhome and go exploring! Scotland has plenty to offer, indoors and out, to keep the most energetic youngster happy. Easter is traditionally the start of the Scottish tourism season, though it’s late this year and most attractions will be open from the beginning of April.
Cities and museums
Many museums are laying on special events over the Easter holidays. Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee Science Museums all have exhibitions aimed at both young and older visitors. Dundee has storytelling sessions for 3-5 year-olds; Edinburgh want you to Get Connected; and Glasgow’s Science Museum will show you how things work – it’s always been a practical sort of city.
The Scottish National Museum in Edinburgh is going ape for most of April, with monkeys everywhere and plenty of hands-on activities. They also have an exhibition of Scottish pottery, as part of Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, and another about ancient Egyptian burial rituals. In fact, you could spend several days here and not get bored.
Glasgow has plenty going on, starting with the Clydebank Mega Value Carnival at the Play Drome. If your kids like funfairs then this is the big one, and your entry ticket gives you unlimited rides. Luckily, the entry only lasts for a morning or afternoon so parents can have a chance to recover! Perhaps an afternoon at the Scotland Street School Museum, in Glasgow’s South Side, will bring the kids back to earth.
Then there’s the rather excellent Riverside Museum on the Clyde, which has a range of activities throughout the month, from making mobiles and giant slides to designing posters and mini-fairgrounds.
Take to the water
If you prefer the sea to the city, head to Anstruther on the East Neuk of Fife, for “The Navigatio” exhibition of drawings on the theme of St Brendan (who may or may not have travelled as far as North America in his hide-covered boat).
You could take a boat trip yourselves, and see one of the great engineering wonders of Britain at the same time, at the Falkland Wheel. This replaces a flight of 11 canal locks with two “gondolas”, which carry boats from the Forth& Clyde canal up to the Union canal. The process used to take all day and a lot of physical effort; now it takes around 15 minutes and uses about as much energy as boiling six kettles.
If you walk along the Union Canal towpath a short way you can do a spot of time-travelling: there’s a tunnel under the Roman Antonine Way, so you go from the 21st century to the 1st in a few hundred yards.
Only a few miles away is another canal-side attraction, the huge and weirdly beautiful metal horse-head Kelpies in Falkirk’s Helix Park. You can hire a pedal-boat and see them up close on the lagoon or take a walk and admire them from a distance.
There’s an Adventure Zone with equipment for children from age 2 upwards and, if the weather’s good, you can also take advantage of their splash play area. There are miles of cycling trails to follow if you’ve brought bikes with you (our motorhomes all have bike racks, and we can hire you bikes if you haven’t brought your own).
History, battles and beasts
If you want a bit more noise and excitement, Bannockburn near Stirling was the site of one of the major battles in Scotland’s bloody history, in 1315. Find out all about it at the Battle of Bannockburn Experience, where you even get the chance to “take part” and help determine the outcome for yourself. If that’s a bit much for sensitive members of the family, they can watch from the gallery!
Close by there’s excitement of a different kind: Blair Drummond Safari Park, where you can drive through four individual wildlife reserves and see rhinos, zebras, lions, camels and monkeys up close, take a boat trip over to Chimp Island, or watch a bird of prey display. Kids can let off steam on the wooden castle and pirate ship, or take the zip ride across the river.
For both history and stunning views, a trip to Dunottar Castle near Stonehaven is hard to beat. It’s a hard-ish climb down and up from the car park to the castle (and back), so be prepared. Dunottar is a ruin sitting very commandingly on a promontory above the sea. Its history includes the imprisonment of Covenanters and the preservation of Scotland’s Crown Jewels from Cromwell’s clutches. It’s also breathtakingly beautiful.
Glamis Castle, a little further south in Angus, is another great place to take children. There’s plenty of armour, history and ghosts indoors and a play-park, woodland walk and nature trail outside. For the Easter weekend they’re organising woodland activities as well as an Easter egg hunt.
And, of course, eggs
On Easter Sunday itself (April 16th), Traquair House, near Innerleithen in the Borders, invites you to an Easter Eggstravaganza. The fun starts at 12, but you can get in an hour before that and explore, or go round the house (it costs extra but is definitely worth a visit: it’s Scotland’s oldest inhabited house). They promise the biggest egg-hunt in the Borders and plenty more fun throughout the day.
Historic Environment Scotland (they used to be just Historic Scotland) also have their Easter Eggsplorer Trail events happening at properties all over the country from Skara Brae to Dryburgh Abbey and Dumbarton Castle to Fort George. At Stirling Castle they’re running themed craft activities the same weekend – leave the moppets among the paint-pots while you see the wonderful results of the recent restoration works at the Castle.
If none of that appeals, there are plenty of beaches, forest trails and lochs to visit, most of which won’t cost you a penny and can keep children occupied all day.
One thing’s for sure: you shouldn’t run the risk of that terrible cry “Mu-um, I’m bored” if you’re in Scotland this Easter! There’s so much to do all over the country. You just have to head out there and find it.
Our motorhomes are both transport and a home-from-home for your explorations. With power steering, six full berths, TV and DVD players, picnic table and chairs and plenty of space inside, you’ll be safe and comfortable whatever Scotland’s weather is up to.
Better still, there’s no need to hunt for restaurants or B&Bs in the dark in an unfamiliar place: you can feed the children and put them to bed whenever they’re ready. Then relax with a well-earned glass of something and no worries about babysitters, and enjoy your own Easter break.