WITH the last two years restricting our lives so drastically, now that the Easter holidays have arrived, there is a real desire to get out and about in – what we hope – will be some revitalising spring sunshine.

And blessed with the beauty of Scotland on our doorsteps, there are a vast array of options to enjoy our green surroundings, making the most of the lengthening days and warmer temperatures and helping us take a break from the stresses and strains of these challenging days along the way.

To offer up some helpful hints about ideal day out destinations, here are 10 top spots across the country worth a visit this half-term break to help you and the family reap the well-being benefits of getting back to nature.

Dumfries House, Cumnock, Ayrshire

When Prince Charles saved Dumfries House for the nation in 2007, the purchase included 2000 acres of wider estate which includes an oasis of parkland, gardens and 500 acres of mature woodland to explore. In January, the Duke of Rothesay opened a new adventure woodland playpark at the estate, specifically designed to champion the benefits of nature-based play and learning, while other highlights of any visit include a meander through the Queen Elizabeth walled garden and a maze that was the brainchild of the Duke, who was inspired by a similar maze at Sandringham that he enjoyed in childhood. The Dumfries House maze features paths stretching to over a mile and includes obelisks and a Japanese pagoda - and a chance to get lost in nature.


Various National Trust for Scotland (NTS) venues

For the first time since the pandemic struck, the NTS are running Easter Egg Trails at 22 venues across the country during Easter weekend, from Brodie Castle in Moray to Culzean Castle & Country Park in Ayrshire, and from Greenbank Garden in Glasgow to Newhailes in Musselburgh. Each trail asks youngsters to follow the route, collect the clues, solve the puzzle and, best of all, win a chocolate reward at the end, with the trail at each venue different – to encourage visitors to venture to other NTS properties as well. It is £4 per trail and booking is not required. And as well as the trails, many of the venues feature adventure playgrounds to keep the children further entertained. They also offer, of course, the simple opportunity to soak in the sights – whether it’s a breath of fresh air at the beach at Culzean or a marvel at the majesty of the mountains surrounding Glencoe Visitor Centre.

More information is available at www.nts.org.uk/stories/easter

The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

The first signs of spring are popping up at the Botanics in Edinburgh, meaning it is time for the annual Botanic Bunny’s Easter Trail where youngsters are invited to explore the garden and complete the trail to receive a yummy chocolate treat as their reward. The trail is operating from April 9 through to the 24th. The venue is also teaming up with Edinburgh Science Festival this spring break with a series of events, exhibitions and activities for families and adults – including augmented reality artworks around the garden to an opportunity to explore the Firth of the Forth shoreline. Visitors can also simply enjoy ambling around 70 acres of stunning landscape in what is regarded as one of the world’s leading botanic gardens – that also offers a wonderful view of the capital’s skyline.

More information is at www.rbge.org.uk

Whitelee Windfarm, Eaglesham, Glasgow

Whitelee – the UK’s largest onshore windfarm – is holding its ‘Egg-straspecial Easter’ event on April 17, the annual egg roll and smash at the farm on Eaglesham Moor, 20 minutes outside of central Glasgow. The windfarm – which has 215 turbines – also has more than 130km of trails. With the turbine trails largely traffic free, children can explore with confidence, while the setting is also popular with dog-walkers, runners and horse-riders. The visitor centre also reopened on March 23.

For more information on this and other events, go to www.whiteleewindfarm.co.uk

Various Historic Environment Scotland venues

Easter Explorer trails are returning to some of the properties in the care of Historic Environment Scotland for an epic Easter exploration. Each trail, of course, takes visitors on adventures through the grounds of some of Scotland’s most iconic castles, abbeys, forts and palaces – including Caerlaverock Castle, Dumfries; Elgin Cathedral, Moray; Huntly Castle, Aberdeenshire; Dunstaffnage Castle, Argyll & Bute; Fort George, Inverness; Melrose Abbey in Roxburghshire and Jedburgh Abbey in the Borders – and allows visitors to see the buildings and the landscapes that HES is endeavouring to protect. HES is also running various events including ‘Brilliant Birds’ at Linlithgow Peel, aimed at encouraging bird-spotting in children between 8 and 12, on April 5.

More info at www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/whats-on/

National Museum of Rural Life, East Kilbride

The museum is set in 110 acres of farmland, operated by National Museums Scotland, and the top things to see and do include the chance for visitors to the museum galleries to learn about the land, people and ways of working that have shaped Scotland’s rural history, or to go for a walk on the farm on a path overlooking fields and hedgerows, as well as meeting the cattle, pigs, sheep, Clydesdales and hens on the working farm. The farm explorer tractor-trailer can take visitors from the museum base up to the farm, but must be booked in advance, as must entry.

For more information, go to www.nms.ac.uk/national-museum-of-rural-life

Loch Lomond Faerie Trail, Luss, Argyll & Bute

One way to get in touch with nature this half-term is to perhaps get ‘away with the fairies’ in one of the country’s most iconic locations. Loch Lomond Faerie Trail is booking from today, inviting visitors to investigate the mystery of ‘The Woodland Wizard’. Trail markers throughout a woodland walk on the shores of the spectacular loch in the heart of the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park help youngsters solve a mystery for the faeries, before presentation of a special certificate upon completion. Further information is available at www.lochlomondfaerietrail.com And if you find the faeries, you could then wander along Luss Heritage Trail in the model village of Luss that looks picture-postcard pretty with its stone cottages and pier on the loch.

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

The ancient volcano of Arthur’s Seat – the main peak of the group of hills in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park – gives walkers who venture to the top an excellent view of the capital from 251m above sea level. The hill is also the site of a large, well-preserved fort and has a diverse range of flora and geology. Nearby is Duddingston Loch, a fresh water loch rich in birdlife, and with open year-round access, it is a simple way of getting in touch with nature in the city. From today, HES is holding guided walks offering participants the chance to learn more about Arthur’s Seat and its turbulent past, as well as the chance to find out more about the rare wildlife and the people who lived in the area through the centuries.


RSPB Scotland reserves

Scotland’s nature reserves are an ideal place to explore and reconnect with nature. From golden eagles to red squirrels, from otters to huge seabird colonies, the country’s varied landscape – from rugged coast to boggy marsh – is a haven for the natural world, offering an amazing opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle and see some amazing wildlife along the way. A range of events are scheduled to take place at the reserves over the holidays, tailored for youngsters, including a dinosaur egg hunt at Lochwinnoch, the Big Wild Easter Trail at the Loch Leven reserve, a guided poind dipping and bug hunting session at Lochwinnoch, scavenger hunts at Lochwinnoch and a ‘spring eggstravaganza trail’ at the Loch Lomond reserve.

More information is at events.rspb.org.uk/scotland

David Livingstone Birthplace Museum, Blantyre

Set along the banks of the River Clyde and surrounded by parkland, the museum dedicated to the life and times of the famous 19th century Scottish missionary and explorer invites visitors to follow his journey from Blantyre to Africa through a new interactive exhibition. They are also encouraged to ‘set sail’ on a playground inspired by Livingstone’s voyages and to use the trails to explore the park, that is a natural habitat for otters, badgers and heron. The venue has a host of events planned for the half-term break, including Easter crafts, wild flower meadow planting and a hedgehog habitat workshop with conservation volunteers.