Nature & geography in Edinburgh & The Lothians

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From adrenaline-fuelled outdoor activities to walking and wildlife watching, Edinburgh & The Lothians offers a variety of ways to enjoy the great outdoors. Explore a region with beautiful countryside, beaches and an ancient and prestigious golfing heritage, with some of the oldest courses in the world.

Right on the capital’s doorstep, the Lothians are a paradise for keen walkers and adventure-lovers. Head to the Pentland Hills Regional Park, where you will find 60 miles (100 km) of paths, enabling easy strolls through forests, scenic reservoirs and tougher treks through stunning upland scenery. The hills here reach nearly 2,000 ft at Scald Law - the highest point in the region - and offer wonderful views. You can also take the chairlift to the top of Midlothian Snowsports Centre, where you can ski and snowboard all year round or just enjoy the panoramic views across the city to the Firth of Forth.

Get your walking boots on and uncover stunning countryside and coastline during the Year of Natural Scotland on the John Muir Way, a path which stretches 45 miles and links East Lothian with the city of Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders.

Along the coast you’ll find beautiful beaches, perfect for picnics, sandcastles and sunbathing. Adventure enthusiasts can try kite surfing at Gullane, surfing at Belhaven Bay, wakeboarding at Foxlake Adventures and sea kayaking around the scenic coastline. You can even take a boat trip to the islands on the Firth of Forth, such as Craigleith and Bass Rock, to see wildlife such as seals and puffins. 

Scotland is world-renowned as The Home of Golf, and no trip would be complete without a visit to some of the vast array of challenging, spectacular links and parkland courses across the Lothians. East Lothian has an ancient and prestigious golfing heritage, with historic courses such as Musselburgh, and Muirfield which welcomed the Open Championship again in July 2013. Accommodation providers right across the region are always delighted to welcome golfers during their stay.

Back in the city, Edinburgh offers numerous opportunities to escape the busy city streets. Relax in green spaces like the Royal Botanic Gardens, Holyrood Park or the Meadows and take a leisurely stroll along the seaside promenade of Portobello. Climb the extinct volcano of Arthur’s Seat for remarkable views, while Calton Hill offers panoramic views across the city.

Take a look through the information and plan a natural day out in Edinburgh & The Lothians.

  • A couple walk along the sandy beach at Gullane
    Gullane beach
  • A couple enjoy autumnal sunshine in the Royal Botanic Gardens
    A couple in the Royal Botanic Gardens
  • A view over Edinburgh rooftops to Arthur's Seat
    Arthur's Seat
A couple walk along the sandy shore of Gullane Beach

Beaches

Spend the day at one of the beaches near Edinburgh city centre with empty beaches, unspoilt nature reserves and seaside resorts.

A couple enjoy the autumn sunshine in the Royal Botanic Gardens

Parks and gardens

Explore the parks and gardens of Edinburgh - a city full of great green spaces filled with plants and flowers.

A view across Edinburgh to Arthur's Seat

Towns and villages

Learn all about the towns and villages in Edinburgh & The Lothians with descriptions, history and nearby attractions.

A boy playing with leaves in Vogrie Country Park

Country parks

Head out of the city with a visit to one of the many beautiful country parks in the Lothian countryside for a fun family day out in the great outdoors.