Five things to do outdoors in Edinburgh in Autumn

Pony trekking in the Pentland Hills can be a fun way to spend a day out. Picture: Visit Scotland

Pony trekking in the Pentland Hills can be a fun way to spend a day out. Picture: Visit Scotland

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WHETHER it be the October Week or just something to do at the weekend, here are five of the best things to do outdoors in Edinburgh this autumn.

WALKING

Take a guided cycle tour of the city with The Tartan Bicycle Company. Picture: Visit Scotland

Take a guided cycle tour of the city with The Tartan Bicycle Company. Picture: Visit Scotland

Edinburgh offers a number of beautiful areas to go walking, be they inside or even outside the city, and this time of year with the crisp air, not too cold days and the golds, reds and yellows of the autumn foliage, it’s the perfect time to get out of the house.

Before you go though, make sure you wrap up warm on the colder days and take a coat even when it’s warmer.

The best places to experience this time of year - and all of the wonderful natural colours and wildlife - are the numerous forests and hills that surround the city.

Beginning at the Royal Botanic Garden, you’ll be able to enjoy the seasonal transformation among the plants or join the kids in hunting for conkers near the chestnut trees.

The guided walks and the Halloween trail are some of the fun ways to explore this wonderful place and learn more about the plants that are on display.

The Water of Leith is another excellent route for enjoying the change in seasons and this month the kids will be entertained by the Visitor Centre’s events SURVIVE and ROTTEN, fun experiences that will get them reconnecting with nature.

The Hermitage of Braid and the Pentland Hills are also great places to escape the bustling nature of city life.

• The Royal Botanic Gardens offer guided walks everyday at 2pm for £6 and the Halloween Trail is the perfect way to entertain the kids for just £1. The children’s autumn events at the Water of Leith visitor centre cost £4 per child (accompanying adult free) & start at 2pm until 3.30pmish, booking is essential.

READ MORE: Five of the best coastal walks around Edinburgh and East Lothian

HORSE RIDING

Why not take a trip with the original off-roaders and try your hand at horse riding; Edinburgh has a number of excellent stables and equestrian centres offering a range of great experiences for beginners right through to veteran riders.

Tower Farm Riding Stables in Liberton offer a full range of scenic trails to enjoy, with the main trek taking you through Braid Hills Golf Course where you are able to view the whole of Edinburgh including Arthur’s seat, the Castle, the Forth Bridges and other famous landmarks. The stables also offer courses for those who have never ridden a horse before giving anyone the chance to learn how to take to the saddle like a professional.

Harelaw Equestrian Centre in nearby Longniddry, say they are happy to cater for any size of group and offer treks seven days a week, including an exhilarating beach ride for more experienced riders.

• Harelaw offer a range of treks and tuition for nay age starting at £13 for 30 mins up to £45 for two hours, Tower Farm offer introductory lessons (3pm on a Saturday) for £20 and one hour treks starting at £29

PONY TREKKING

For those of you who are looking for something a little more sedate than actual horse riding, then pony trekking can be a great place to start, luckily Edinburgh has plenty of rolling scenery surrounding it, giving people ample opportunity to enjoy a nice meander on the back of a pony.

Operating on the Pentland Hills in the autumn and winter and the Ochil Hills in the summer, Edinburgh University Exmoor Pony Trekking Section (EUEPTS) runs treks for students and the general public of any level of experience.

Starting from Swanston, the route takes the ponies straight from their field onto the hills (avoiding any roads) and also allows participants to enjoy helping care for the animal before and after the trek.

Pony trekking has been a popular past time around the capital since 1952, and the Exmoor ponies used by the group were first introduced to the area around 1930 and this ancient breed are a sturdy sort with a quiet temperament, that are perfect for riding for both adults and children.

This time of the year is great to get out and enjoy the last of the warmer weather coupled with the riotous colours of autumn.

EUEPTS vice president Millie Ker said: “Pony trekking is a fabulous activity for riders of all experiences. From complete beginners to advanced riders, anyone can enjoy the rides. Exmoor ponies are certainly not just for young people, although they make great children’s ponies, they’re a strong native breed and can carry adults up to 76kg.”

• Beginner and Novice Afternoon Treks run at the weekend, last around 1-1½ hours and are ideal for children over 8 years of age who are ready to ride off the lead rein. Starting at 1.30pm each trek costs £25 per person (£20 for students and under 18s).

CYCLING

With the popularity of cycling exploding following the recent successes of Team GB at the Olympics and Paralympics in Rio and London, it’s never been a better time to get out and enjoy the hobby. For fun days out, in and around the city, the Tartan Bicycle Company should be your first stop.

Offering tours such as the Auld Reekie guided bike tour, which is described as the best way to see the city and starts at the vibrant Shore of Leith to the north of the city before cycling round and taking in some the city’s best hidden gems, the bike company also provides bikes for hire (included in the price) - though you can bring your own.

Those who want to soak in the sights of the tour without too much hard work can pay a little extra (£5) for an electric pedal assist bike.

• The Auld Reekie tour takes about 6 hours including optional lunch, uplift and drop off, and costs £50 (including bike hire) or £40 if you bring your own. Other guided tours are available.

ARCHERY

A fantastic pastime to take up if you enjoy something a little different from the normal outdoor activities. It’s suitable for all ages and abilities, and in Edinburgh is available outdoors or in a sports hall through MY Adventure .

A great way to enjoy some fun competition between family and friends, MY Adventure will provide the equipment and qualified instructors, all you need to provide is the enthusiasm.

•Prices start at £300 midweek for groups and last for two hours or £350 at the weekend.

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