3 Outdoor Short Breaks in Edinburgh

The beautiful landscape in and around Edinburgh is perfect for those seeking a little outdoor adventure, without having to stray too far from creature comforts. Whether it’s scaling cliffs, messing about on boats, or marvelling at nature, Edinburgh has something to appeal to anyone with a taste for the great outdoors. It’s also an ideal place for those wishing to improve their English –alongside enjoying the scenery.

1. Climbing up the Salisbury Crags

Scotland is famous for its mountains. While bagging the various Munros is a fairly standard exercise for outdoor enthusiasts, there’s plenty of opportunity to reach dizzying heights without leaving the country’s capital city.

The Salisbury Crags are a series of 46-metre cliffs that dominate the Edinburgh skyline. Composed of steep dolerite and columnar basalt, they have been attracting climbers from the earliest days of the sport. There are a number of outdoor activities outfits offering weekend courses in climbing at the Crags – a great way to chat to native speakers and improve your English.

Independent climbers need to apply for a free permit from the education centre to the east of the park before they’re permitted to use the rocks.

Blackford Quarry is another climbing option in the city, and can be found on the South side of Blackford Hill. Just outside of Edinburgh, the North Berwick Law Quarry has a number of bolted routes.

If the weather’s too foul to climb outside, there are plenty of opportunities to practice indoors. Situated in the vaulted ceiling of an old church, the Alien Rock climbing centre has a wide variety of climbs suitable for people of all abilities. The Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, situated on the outskirts of Edinburgh, is the world’s largest indoor climbing arena and a great place to meet climbers of all nationalities.

Salisbury Crags

photo from Mike Sowden on flickr

2. Boating on the Union Canal

The Union Canal runs from Falkirk to Edinburgh – a total of 31 miles. Though now commercially unimportant, the canal is beloved by those who enjoy boating. There are various canal societies that rent boats of all kinds to those hoping to explore the canal at a gentle pace.

Charter Hotel Boat Willow offer skippered day cruises, while those who prefer to be their own captain can hire a barge from Re-Union Canal Boats. The Edinburgh Canal Society hires rowing boats on Sunday from their boathouse, and canoes from the Forth Canoe Club.

Barge on the Union Canal

photo by Craig Murphy on flickr

3. Birding at Duddingston Loch

Duddingston Loch is the only natural freshwater loch in Edinburgh. As such, it attracts an impressive number of bird species, who come to both feed and breed. To fully appreciate the loch’s avian visitors, it’s worth getting in touch with the Scottish Wildlife Trust to arrange access to the bird hide. Expect to see kingfishers, song thrushes, lapwings and herons in all their wild glory.

For more information on improving your English whilst enjoying the great scenery and culture in and around Edinburgh, click here.

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