Outdoors: Family days out to try in Scotland this week

AFTER a dreary April and a dismal start to May, brighter days awaits outdoor enthusiasts as rising temperatures offer the prospect of some great family days out across Scotland.

With the weather set to stay warm over the weekend (we’re hedging our bets beyond that), here’s a quick round-up of things to do and places to see that the whole family can enjoy.

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Beaches: Scotland’s east coast offer a bountiful array of beaches to visit. Edinburgh’s Portobello beach is a popular choice, with plenty of space - even when it becomes exceptionally busy during warm weather - and amenities close by. If you’re looking for a quieter affair, a drive or bus ride to Yellowcraigs near Dirleton village might be more to your liking. Situated near woodland, Yellowcraig offers somewhat more eclectic scenery, as well as a small barbecue area and a park for children. For something even further off the beaten track, Sandwood Bay near Sutherland (well, ‘near’ is pushing it - you have to walk four miles from Blairmore to get there) in north-west Scotland is an exceptionally beautiful stretch of coastline which is well worth the mild toil of the trek.

Parks: Strathaven Park in South Lanarkshire is about as gentle a place as you will find: whether you’re lolling on the boating pond or enjoying the miniature railway toot on by, there’s a stillness to the place that one can’t help but feel relaxed in. Nearby play areas for children should assuage your wee ones’ need for a bit more rough and tumble. Camperdown Park in Dundee is another attractive spot offering an array of activities, including woodland treks, angling, a leisure complex, a wildlife centre and an adventure playground.

Mountain biking: For something a little more adventurous, an excellent range of mountain biking routes can be found in the south of Scotland. Mountain biking centre 7stanes maintain seven centres, of which Glentrool, situated in Galloway Forrest in Dumfries and Galloway, is the most family-friendly. Though offering a slightly more challenging variety of trails, Ae has several great spots for picnics. The Valley Route comes highly recommended.