Written by parents and carers, Edinburgh for Under Fives (EFUF) is a popular guidebook for families covering Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife.
Every month on WOW247, the local experts at EFUF blog about family-friendly attractions, events, cafés and days out in Edinburgh and beyond in an essential new feature for parents. Without further ado, EFUF editor Cathy Tingle shares her top tips for April.
[Almond Valley Heritage Centre – picture: www.clearphotography.co.uk]
Almond Valley Heritage Centre is a perennial family favourite but especially exciting at Easter time, when chicks are hatching and lambs are being born. Special handling and encounter sessions will allow children to get close to these new arrivals. Almond Valley makes a real effort in the school holidays and from April 5-21 is organising a springtime trail around the farm, with special prizes for finding hidden eggs. The craft area offers opportunities to make bonnets and other spring decorations. During Easter weekend itself there will be further attractions including a plastic duck race along the mill lade. All this in addition to the usual tractor and train rides, trampolines, and outdoor and indoor play areas. Get your wellies on and enjoy.
Check out the brilliant Mini Maker Faire at the Summerhall Arts Centre running on Easter Saturday, April 20, from 10am-5pm. There is plenty to experience at this mind-boggling event which showcases invention, creativity and resourcefulness from within Edinburgh and beyond. Enjoy inspiring performances and exhibitions as well as bookable and drop-in workshops and activities where children can make anything from candles to monsters or explore the possibilities of paper. All this at a venue that’s handily placed for the Meadows (for a picnic, perhaps) and just diagonally to its marvellous playpark. Entry is £3, with under 3s getting in free.
Places to Eat
Head East this Easter (and counteract those chocolate eggs) by visiting Chop Chop or Wagamama. Chop Chop, in Morrison Street or Leith (read the WOW247 review), offers a great range that kids can sample and enjoy. Try the small salad or noodle sharing plates or the excellent dumplings, from the pork and coriander mini-dumplings with dipping sauce to the deep fried ice cream-filled ones (not too much more healthy than chocolate, perhaps, but terrific for a treat). Adults can savour dishes such as Crispy Northern Beef or Pan Fried Aubergines with garlic and Chinese spices.
Wagamama, on Castle Terrace or in Ocean Terminal, is effortlessly family friendly, offering freshly made, healthy and delicious food and delivering dishes as soon as they’re ready, which means littl’uns are unlikely to be waiting long for their meal. If there is a bit of breathing space after ordering, use the crayons provided to doodle on the paper menus or tablecloths. Seating, on long benches, feels informal and relaxed, which helps if wee ones are feeling extra “exuberant” – as well they might after all that goodness-packed scran.
You can literally visit Easter this April with a trip to Aberdour. The town, just a hop and a skip along the Fife coast, used to be divided into Easter and Wester areas and boasts two attractions that children will enjoy − a castle (in the Easter Aberdour area) and the wonderful Silver Sands beach.
Aberdour Castle and Garden is particularly suited to older under 5s, who will enjoy exploring nooks and crannies, hearing their voices echo down the well and climbing the narrow stairs. The terraced gardens offer beautiful views, and the walled garden is filled with scented flowers at just the right height for little noses.
Silver Sands won a Blue Flag award again in 2013 and anyone who has visited this clean beach, with its great facilities, will understand why. Among its many attractions are a lovely little children’s playpark and, right on the beachfront, the popular Sands Café.
Make your trip to Aberdour a real occasion by travelling there by train from Waverley, crossing the Forth Rail Bridge as you go.
If you’ve got time for an adventure during the holidays, head up the M90 to Loch Leven, where you can encounter the intrigue and drama of history, the wonder of wildlife, stunning views, and enough play, food and shopping to keep any family happy.
Travelling by ferry to Lochleven Castle, where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned and forced to abdicate, gives a real sense of its remoteness, although Mary did eventually escape. After exploring the castle, enjoy the view from the picnic tables in front of it. Once you get back to the mainland, don’t miss the fantastic playpark along the boardwalk opposite the ticket office. There is also a café at the dock, useful if you’ve forgotten your packed lunch.
Nearby is the RSPB Loch Leven Nature Reserve with two walking trails, bird hides, a visitor centre, gift shop and a café with observation area. Binoculars and “explorer rucksacks” for children can be borrowed from the visitor centre before you set off on whichever trail takes your fancy.
After all this activity, treat yourselves to a visit to the wonderful Loch Leven’s Larder – retail and food heaven. Browse the deli, homeware and gift store, then sample the delights of the restaurant which offers imaginative and delicious options, locally sourced wherever possible. Drink in the views of the loch from your table or get that bit nearer by enjoying the outdoor space which includes a children’s play area and a nature trail.
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Edinburgh for Under Fives was started by Edinburgh NCT and has been enriching the lives of under 5s for the past 28 years. The next edition of Edinburgh for Under Fives is out this May. More info at www.efuf.co.uk. Follow them on Twitter to get the day-to-day about what’s going on for under 5s, or discover what they’ve been up to recently by reading their blog.