Top 9 Things to Do in the Lothians

| December 12, 2017

While Edinburgh rightly tops the list of places people want to visit in Scotland, those who venture beyond the capital to explore the Lothians are rewarded by a host of diverse attractions. Highlights include a ruined mid 14th-century castle and the world’s largest colony of Northern Gannets!

1. North Berwick

There is loads to do in and around the bustling seaside town of North Berwick. The big hitter is the Scottish Seabird Centre, from where you can take a boat trip out to Bass Rock – home to the world’s biggest colony of Northern Gannets. Alandas award-winning ice-cream, great beaches, the conical hulk of  North Berwick Law and boat fresh lobster also tempt. http://north-berwick.co.uk/

North Berwick

North Berwick (c) Robin McKelvie

 2. Tantallon Castle

This formidable mid 14th-century fortress is located just 5km east of North Berwick. Learn about Tantallon’s former strategic importance, ramble around its magnificent ruins, or just enjoy the striking cliff top views out over the Firth of Forth. www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/tantallon-castle/

Tantallon Castle

Tantallon Castle (c) Robin McKelvie

3. East Links Family Park

Located near Dunbar in East Lothian, this is one of central Scotland’s best family attractions. Younger children will love the petting farm, but it offers so much more. Highlights include miniature train trips, pony rides and a huge wooden fort to clamber over. Then there are climbing walls, soft play, trampolines  and even giant water cannon (in the aptly named Water Wars) which you can fire at your family. www.eastlinks.co.uk

4. Gullane

Golf, great coastal walks and a stunning beach are chief among the reasons to visit the pretty East Lothian town of Gullane.

5. Linlithgow

West Lothian’s most charming town is steeped in history.  Stroll around the loch and take in the magnificent views of Linlithgow Palace and the equally imposing St Michael’s Parish Church. The 15th-century fortress will be familiar to Outlander fans, as it starred as Wentworth Prison in the TV series. Explore its ruins and learn about its royal history. Linlithgow also has some great independent shops, cafes and bars.

Linlithgow Palace and St Michael's Parish Church

Linlithgow Palace and St Michael’s Parish Church (c) Robin McKelvie

6. Beecraigs Country Park

Acres of woodland and massive adventure playground make Beecriags Country Park a perennial favourite with local families. Then there are the ranger-led activities, a pretty loch and deer park. For those who want to stay longer a brace of glamping options (little lodges), campsite and caravan park oblige.  www.westlothian.gov.uk/beecraigs

Den building at Beecraigs Country Park

Den building at Beecraigs Country Park (c) Jenny McKelvie

7. Almond Valley Heritage Centre

Indoor and outdoor adventure play areas, plus a giant undercover sandpit,  make this a big hit with families. As do the range of farm and petting animals that live here. Then there are the bouncy castles, trampolines, go-karts, sledges, tractor rides and even an historic narrow gauge railway. Add in a host of historic buildings, exhibitions and a museum that shed light on the area’s heritage – including its role at the heart of the shale oil industry – and Almond Valley is a must-visit attraction. www.almondvalley.co.uk

8. Five Sisters Zoo

Five Sisters Zoo is known locally for its work with animals that have been ill-treated, including brown bears and lions. In addition to these large animals visitors can also get up close to the likes of meerkats and ring-tailed lemurs. https://fivesisterszoo.co.uk

9. Shopping in Livingston

With various shopping centres, designer outlets and a handful of retail parks, Livingston is arguably the best place to go shopping in Scotland. Come armed with plenty of reusable carrier bags and a pair of flat shoes!

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