Hit the coast
With the days finally longer than the nights, thoughts turn to summer holidays packed blistering sunshine and beautiful beaches. The east of Scotland might not always manage the first part, but it certainly has plenty of great coastline to explore.
North Berwick to the east and Aberdour across the Forth both have cracking beaches - Silver Sands at Aberdour is one of just a handful of Scots beaches to win the international Blue Flag award - and each has a host of other things to do if the sea breeze gets any worse than ‘bracing’.
North Berwick is home to the Scottish Seabird Centre, gazing out onto the Bass Rock and its enormous gannet colony. Aberdour lacks the wildlife but makes up for it with history - Aberdour Castle dates back to the 11th Century, and is one of the two oldest standing castles remaining in Scotland.
Trains from Waverley Station will take you to either North Berwick or Aberdour in just over half an hour, with a car journey taking around the same.
Get on your bike
While much of the extreme sports track in Scotland is in the north and west, thrillseekers can still get their fix within an hour and a half of Edinburgh. The Glentress and Innerleithen sections of the 7 Stanes group of Scottish mountain bike trails offer riders of all abilities the chance for an exciting ride.
Glentress is home to one of the UK’s best biking centres, with an £8.5 million facility complete with bike hire, car parks, a cafe, a wide range of trails for all skill levels, and the all important changing facilities and showers after a day in the mud. Nearby Innerleithen offers biking for the more experienced rider, with punishing downhill tracks and competition-level trails through the Border countryside. The centre is 45 minutes away by car, but can be reached by bus in an hour and a quarter.
Take on the Law
South-east Scotland isn’t known for its hills, but the Broad Law southwest of Peebles is a great place for the novice climber to get started. An hour and ten minutes from Edinburgh, Broad Law’s light and gentle slope up to its 840-metre summit make it one of Scotland’s gentler hills. The locations of a somewhat unexpected radio transmitter at the summit, which vaguely resembles a UFO, means that there will always be something out of the ordinary to see when you reach the top.
Homes from home
Two examples of historic Scottish housing which couldn’t be more different from one another can be found within an hour and a half of the capital.
Travel north-west to Kenmore on Loch Tay, where you’ll find the Scottish Crannog Centre. For the uninitiated, a crannog is a self-contained island house built by those who lived on Scotland’s lochs. Their first recorded use came around 5,000 years ago, and there’s a full-scale replica on site to give an insight inside the homes of Iron Age Scots.
The Centre opens for the summer season on 1 April, and is open daily until the end of October. Start your watch when you hit the Edinburgh bypass and you should get there inside 90 minutes.
An hour south of Edinburgh, Traquair House is a more genteel and refined blast from the past. Built in the 10th Century, it has been inhabited constantly ever since, and a trip around the building takes you on a mini tour through Scottish history. The on-site brewery and shop bring things right up to date, and it’s only 60 minutes in the car back to modern-day Edinburgh.
• Which other great places are within an hour-and-a-half of Edinburgh? Let us know in the comments.