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One thing I get asked often on Instagram is about day trips from Edinburgh. There are so many places within a hour of Edinburgh that are a delight to visit. One of our favourite things to do is to jump in the car or train and head to East Lothian. We used the Visit East Lothian website to plan our trip and look at fun things to do with the kids.
East Lothian begins within just a few minutes from he city centre and has a bit of everything. 40 miles of coastline, beautiful beaches, castle ruins, manor houses and some of the best cafes. There is something for the whole family to do and you’ll never be short of a fun activity no matter the weather.
We headed to Hailes Castle on a sunny Sunday morning, it’s never a busy castle and it’s one of our favourites, it’s a bit of a hidden gem and is tucked away neatly. The kids get to run across the wee bridge on the way in and up the hill. Theres a gap in the tree’s and you are instantly greeted with an amazing ruin that over looks the River Tyne.
It was build back in the 1200s and is one of Scotlands oldest stone castles and well preserved ruins. James Hepburn, 4th earl of Bothwell was said to be born at Hailes Castle in 1535.
He’s most famously known for becoming Mary Queen of Scots third husband. On the way to their wedding at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh in 1567, Bothwell and Mary Stayed at Hailes Castle.
It’s a fascinating place to visit, you can even download an app while you are there for a 3D map and extra information about the castle itself.
We love taking a flask of hot chocolate with us and chatting about who might have lived there and where we would put our furniture if we moved in, can you imagine living in such a place?
Tucked away in a secluded corner of East Lothian you’ll find Smeaton Tea Rooms, not only will you leave with a warm belly full of excellent lentil soup, you’ll leave with armfuls of plants (or pumpkins) on your way out too.
We’ve never been to Smeaton Tea rooms before and it’s now going to be a regular visit on our trips down the coast.
There’s something for everyone on the menu and they even provide ‘picking plates’ for the kids. With chopped fruit and veggies for them to snack on. The nursery is open for wandering and the kids loved getting to explore all the plants, tree’s and little nooks of the cafe.
We got a seat outdoors and the kids searched for fairies while we drank tea and planned the rest of our day. Everything in East Lothian is so close to one another that you can fill your day with more than one activity and make it a big adventure!
Next stop, to meet some of the friendliest alpaca in Scotland…
We’ve been alpaca walking before and the kids really loved it, so this was an easy choice to make. We signed up for the mini trek with John Muir Alpacas, it’s a brilliant one for little kids and all children must be accompanied by an adult. You’ll be in a group with other walkers and a wee warning, alpaca like to keep up with the others, so hold on tight!
The actual ‘walking’ of the alpacas is only around 10 mins, great for the tiny children who want to walk their own, you get to feed some smaller ones in between and then you make your way back to the starting point.
If you would like a longer walk, you can book a trek that takes you on a walk down the beach and along the coast. The mini trek was great for wee ones, Emily would have loved it had here been a little more walking involved and maybe once around the paddock with her new bestie Bertie.
We had Dave and Bertie and the kids were thrilled! Dave was very excited to walk with the group and the kids were confident to walk along side them too. It was a really relaxed trek and the staff are extremely knowledgable about the Alapaca and can even tell them all apart!
After your walk you can have lunch in the picnic tent, which is stunning and the kids were excited to see a fire pit along with marshmallows for them to enjoy. The tent was cosy and you can book a picnic lunch or bring your own along with you. It’s a lovely way to relax for lunch and get out of the coastal wind for a minute.
Some say the mill is the inspiration for Hagrids home in the Harry Potter movies, its resemblance is uncanny, and Ruby was delighted to show the wee ones around, she has visited with us before.
There has been a mill on the grounds since the 1500s and Preston Mill is the oldest meal mill in Scotland. It’s machinery is still in full working order and you can see it in action during your tour if you decide to book one during your visit.
The mill has also featured in Outlander, the mill wheel is from that famous scene where Jamie is hiding from the red coats, it’s also used as the room where Claire and Gaelis await their trial. Both from Season 1 of the show.
The mill is impressive and the kids love walking over the bridge to the Doocot, you can spot the heron in the water and maybe grab a wee ice cream from the gift shop if you get the weather for it.
We absolutely love a wee trip to East Lothian and can’t wait to plan our next one. Maybe by the sea with fish and chips and a visit to the seabird centre!
Visit Scotland and Visit East Lothian are filled with amazing information for you to plan your trip, a day trip out of the city is a must and East Lothian should be the TOP of your list!