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NOW CLOSED Ever been on a family holiday to Scotland? Or fancy going on one? Share your thoughts with VisitScotland - there are 5 fantastic prizes to be won!

(198 Posts)
AlexMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 28-Feb-13 12:01:38

VisitScotland would like to hear from those of you who've been on a family holiday to Scotland - or are planning one. Here's what they say:

"This year we are celebrating the Year of Natural Scotland and invite you to come and celebrate our outstanding natural beauty throughout 2013. We are a family friendly nation with loads to offer on a family holiday; from wildlife like the bottlenose dolphins of the Moray Firth, to the capercaillie of the central Highlands and the thousands of seals and puffins inhabiting our beautiful coastline. For city seekers, we have seven, all with a wealth of things to see and do on a family break. Visit our website to start your planning today! Also check out Embrace Scotland which has over 2,500 quality assured self catering properties across Scotland."

They're interested to know where you think the best places are for children to visit? Which regions cater for children best? Are you better off wandering the great outdoors with them or visiting a specific attraction? Would they have more fun in the countryside, Highlands or Islands or in one of Scotland?s seven cities?

If you haven't yet been on a family holiday to Scotland but are planning one (or just daydreaming of an escape!), please take a look at VisitScotland's family web section for some inspiration and share your thoughts on this thread.

Good value breaks are easy to find with a range of passes to enjoy savings, and we have 5 of these to give away! Everyone who adds their comments will be entered into a prize draw to win one of:

~ 2 x family passes from the National Trust for Scotland with attractions ranging from the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum to Crathes Castle, Garden and Estate. (worth £168, Valid for one year)

~ A 3 day family Edinburgh pass for entry into a wide range of tourist attractions in Edinburgh from Dynamic Earth to the Edinburgh Dungeon. (worth £158)

~ 2 x 3 day family Explorer Passes from Historic Scotland with attractions ranging from the Royal Castles of Edinburgh & Stirling to the ancient mystical sites of Skara Brae and Maeshowe on Orkney. (worth £116)

Also, if you'd like to be in with a chance of winning a 4* break in Melfort Village, Argyll please enter the separate Mumsnet VisitScotland competition here

AlexMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 28-Feb-13 14:30:42

Hi lisad123everybodydancenow thanks for letting us know - it's fixed now. For those who had already entered, no need to worry, we have received the entries!

elizaco Thu 28-Feb-13 14:32:41

We have holidayed in Scotland as a family, but not for a few years. The girls were small, and we stayed in a chalet near Oban. It was lovely. I would love to explore even further North, but I do worry that the children would get bored. Although they love the countryside, I worry that it may all be abit too rural! I'm ashamed to say I've never been to Edinburgh - it's certainly on my list of places to visit. I'm sure it would be a great place for all the family to enjoy.

Dededum Thu 28-Feb-13 14:33:49

Scottish family so spent most summer holidays there.

We did walking, used to love the marked trails that you find all over Scotland. Amother vote for the landmark centre. The fishing villages in the North East are fascinating all the way from Nairn to Fraseburgh and then down the east coast.
Golf can be cheap as chips and great for getting kids to play.
North of Inverness on the Black Isle, some beautiful spots and remarkably good weather (my dad reckons on the Gulf Stream)

Or go out on a boat
One of the great things I used to love was the way hotels always seemed to be open for a bowl of broth and a bit of shortbread. Alwys welcoming even if you are not a guest.

Only problem weather can be iffy, so good waterproofs, sturdy shoes a necessity. However when the sun shines and you up a hill it really is gods own country.

Spoonful Thu 28-Feb-13 14:49:45

We go every year to Scotland.
We are due to go for a long weekend when the new baby is going to be 1 month old actually.

MmeLindor Thu 28-Feb-13 14:54:10

After 20 years of living abroad, we moved back to Scotland last year. When I say 'we', actually I was the only one in the family who was born here. We have been visiting Scotland for 20 years as tourists.

The first few years were spent showing my German boyfriend the main attractions, such as the cities, Loch Lomond, the Highlands all the way up to Dornoch. Later, after we married and had kids we started to look for places to take them.

The great thing about Scotland, is that there is such a huge range of activities. Fancy a posh weekend away? Head to Edinburgh, book into a swanky hotel, go to the theatre, have a quiet dinner. You'd rather take the kids away for the weekend? Head for the Highlands.

Like many others, I find the area around Aviemore great for keeping little ones amused. Our kids love Landmark and enjoyed going to the top of the Cairngorms. The trails around Rochiemurchas Forest and Loch Morlich are grand for a long walk, and the wee cafe in Glenmore is a good spot for a warming cup of hot chocolate. Nip across the road to the Reindeer Centre when you are there.

I also find that there are many areas of Scotland that are less well known, but every bit as spectacular. You won't find bus trips of tourists in the Angus Glens, but you will find beautiful scenery and cosy pubs for a sit by the fire. That area tends to be less plagued by midges too.

We visited Kilberry two years ago, on the Knappdale peninsular, then drove up past Skye and over an old cattle driving route, the Bealach na Ba, to Applecross. We have driven dozens of mountain passes in Switzerland, France and Italy and I would honestly say that Bealach na Ba is more stunning than any I've seen.

Another area that is often passed quickly on the motorway on the way to somewhere busier, is the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway. Take a day or two to drive along to Newton Stewart, go to the Raiders' Road and see the Otters Pool. If you are lucky, you may see some Belted Galloway in the area too.

I could go on for hours!

katiewalters Thu 28-Feb-13 15:03:18

I have never been, but would definately like to. From what ive seen of it, it looks great and I have friends that have been and highly recommended it. There is a lot more to see and do there than I initially thought.

musicposy Thu 28-Feb-13 15:04:07

Oh, we absolutely love Scotland and have been on holidays as a family since our DD1 (now 17) was very little. It's a very long way for us (we're right on the bottom of the south coast) but so worth the drive!

People who have never been don't know what they are missing. It truly is another country. Loads of my friends have been to far flung places abroad but never to Scotland. They think it is the same as England and yet it is so different. Places in the highlands are like another world entirely.

Here are some of the trips we have done and would recommend-

Edinburgh over the Christmas/ New Year period (I shouldn't be saying this as this is our plan for the forthcoming Christmas and I don't want everywhere booked up!) We went as a family for just a short break this year as DH wanted to do the Great Winter run in Holyrood Park. People thought we were crazy going such a long way in the middle of winter! We stayed in a travelodge as even I, a seasoned camper, was not going to do Scotland in a tent in January!!

It was utterly magical and is great for teens. There is brilliant shopping and an absolutely magical winter funfair in Princes Street with ice skating etc. We climbed Arthur's Seat, went shopping, visited an amazing fish and chip shop twice and had haggis (and the girls had a deep friend mars bar - OK not something to recommend every day but goodness me it was nice!), went to some lovely independent cafes, went to see the forth bridge and took the train over and back into Edinburgh. My two girls (then 13 and 16) loved every minute and are begging to go back. it's a vibrant, happening city with all the appeal of somewhere big like London, but much smaller and friendlier.

Tour of the Highlands and Islands. A couple of summers ago we took the tent and went all the way up to Skye. orangepudding we have camped many times and find it no colder generally than England at night, in fact I think maybe warmer. I think this is because the days are so long in the summer that the actual time of cold darkness is very short. We stayed for the Highland Games and my girls ran in some races and got a medal. We took the ferry to Lewis and Harris because I wanted to visit the Outer Hebrides. The scenery is stunning and out of this world. On the way back home DH ran up and down Ben Nevis in only a few hours (utterly crazy man) whilst we stayed at the bottom in fort William drinking coffee (we have common sense!). The midges are a nuisance at that time of year, but only really in the evenings and very early mornings (except right at the very top of Lewis where they seem to reside permanently and I was not brave enough to be out of the car for more than a few minutes). Midge repellent more or less stops them biting.

A few years ago when the girls were younger (7 and 4 ish) we camped on the Black Isle, just over the water from Inverness. It was the warmest, loveliest camping holiday we have ever had and the beaches are gorgeous. We were often out walking on the beach at 10.30pm in the daylight, barely even needing coats. We saw dolphins in their natural environment, which was magical.

On the way down home one year from the Highlands we stayed in Moffat to break our journey. It was so lovely and pretty we stayed much longer than intended. This is a lovely little town with a sweet shop to die for! our children were quite young and they have a lovely park with water fountains you can play in and a lake with swan boats.

I can name lots of other places but you will be bored reading it! Scotland is definitely our holiday destination of choice. Every other year or so we try something else but we always come back to "we haven't been to Scotland for a couple of years..." and we end up back there.

worldgonecrazy Thu 28-Feb-13 15:16:28

We had a lovely driving holiday in Scotland a couple of years ago. We drove 6-8 hours each day, but that is a fairly normal thing for us so I can imagine that children not used to such long car journeys might find it a bit much. We loved it though.

We started in Glasgow for one night (fantastic museum), then drove to Fort William for a couple of days. The steam train was fantastic, a definite high point. From there we drove to Aviemore via Loch Ness which was also beautiful, great boat trip, and ended up in Edinburgh.

We like holidays that are a mix of cities/wilderness rather than just one thing and I think Scotland is great for that. We would definitely do it again, we're just waiting for timing/finances to be right.

Our one tip for any driving holiday is to share the driving, to leave very early so that the first day is not spent getting to the place, and to have your routes planned out beforehand so that any sites of interest can be noted.

firstbubba Thu 28-Feb-13 15:22:16

I live in Scotland just back from a few days in Arran with our baby but sadly most things including restaurants were closed. Maybe they need to realise that people holiday in so called 'out of season' as well.

EssieW Thu 28-Feb-13 15:51:40

We love holidays in Scotland and go every year. We've had some fantastic trips.

Our favourite places
1) Aviemore and Cairngorms: we used to always go to the west coast and had ignored anywhere else. We went to Boat of Garten last year and fell in love with this area. So much to do for families. Great cycling for all the family, some lovely child-friendly walks and places to visit.
2) Colonsay: beautiful island for a family holiday. Lots of stunning beaches. Nowhere too far to get too. We always stay at the YHA in Oban beforehand (also family friendly).
3) The Outer Hebrides. Stunning. Just stunning. Great for a touring holiday.
4) Isle of Skye. We were surprised how good a family holiday was here. Some good child-friendly walks. We also visited the island of Raasay and climbed Dun Caan with 4 year old DS.

The children love anywhere with a beach so Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms and pretty much anywhere on the west coast (Skye not so good). Ferries are a constant source of fascination. The Cairngorm funicular is not far behind in its attraction.

WE also did a lovely boat trip to the Treshnish Isles to see the puffins. This was a great wildlife experience for a small child because the puffins are right in front of you -about a metre away.

We much prefer the outside activities in Scotland than city breaks! We tend to visit friends in the cities and not see much of them.

upinthehills Thu 28-Feb-13 16:03:33

I live here too and love the west coast islands best. Did a tour from Lewis to Barra with a ferry hopscotch ticket and it was brilliant. Coll, Colonsay and Mull are favourites too. I love the feeling of having stepped out of modern life that you get there - you feel so far removed from all the world's troubles.

confusteling Thu 28-Feb-13 16:18:05

Favourite places to visit in Scotland:

Cruden Bay, Newburgh, Balmedie, Collieston, Aberdeen, Fraserburgh, Peterhead for beaches and fishing heritage. Aberdeen has a fantastic "fun beach" and promenade with dozens of restraunts. Also reccomend Scotstown and Rattray head beaches although they can be hard to access.

Inverurie, Old Meldrum, Huntly and inland Aberdeenshire

Cairngorms, Aviemore, Carrbridge

Nairn, Inverness, and surrounding area

Edinburgh great for tourist attractions

Thurso, Wick, and surrounding area

Helmsdale, Golspie and other wee villages up in the far north

Gairloch, Poolewe, Inverewe Gardens, Achnasheen, Tobermory, etc - all lovely lovely places

Cannich, Struy, Beauly, Eskadale and surrounding area (home to most of my ancestors and relations!)

Strathpeffer and the surrounding area is lovely too, had a fantastic holiday there once. That said it is less child friendly and quite isolated.

North Berwick is also a lovely wee place, went there once on holiday... as well as a few of the towns around the Borders.

fledtoscotland Thu 28-Feb-13 16:18:37

Scotland is great for kids. From Edinburgh castle to the beaches on the Ayrshire coast there is always something to do. Have lived here 13yrs and love exploring. Currently DC (5 & 4) love Auchingarroch wildlife park nr Comrie, Millport in the summer, the new transport museum and of course Kelvingrove museum is ideal for a wet Sunday afternoon. Want to visit dynamic earth and walk up to Arthur's seat this summer

Teladi Thu 28-Feb-13 16:38:20

I live in Scotland. Had a lovely pre-DC short break with my DH in the Highlands, went to Aviemore, to Torridon and then Inverness.

Starting to think round holidaying with a toddler and I think a holiday in Scotland is definitely in order, after all, taking her on a plane...! We're thinking about going to Edinburgh for a midweek break and visiting the zoo.

I'm looking forward to having holidays in Scotland when DD is older. When I was little my parents took me and my DSis with a towing caravan and we toured all over the place. I don't think caravanning is for us but would love DD to love Scotland like I do. Her dad is English, and I think even though he grew up here it's not in his bones like it is for me.

preety18 Thu 28-Feb-13 17:02:49

My husband and I have been to Stirling and Edinburgh on holiday before we had the girls, and we absolutely love it. Now we are thinking of taking the girls there for their summer holiday as they've never been to Scotland before.

Cherrybright Thu 28-Feb-13 17:13:43

Scotland is one of the places we are thinking of going this summer smile dh used to live in scotland, and wants to take us to ayr, skye and possibly lewis if we have enough time. As long as we take it slow and relax i think dd will love skye and lewis, she is such an outdoors girl. She loves walks, throwing stones in water etc, so it will be ideal for her. I went and did the tourist attractions in edinborough when i was younger and loved that. There is so much to do up there, its a shame its so far away

Callofthefishwife Thu 28-Feb-13 17:34:25

We adore Scotland. Our favourite area is the North East and I would go as far to say its the hidden gem of Scotland because a lot of people just dont go there. Everyone in their masses seem to head off to the West Coast (also stunning) and they do not have a clue what they are missing out on.

I love the Moray coast with all its nature. There are some fab walks along the coastline and safe enough to do with young children too. Many moutain biking routes so easy ideal for families and others more of the grip on and bear it excitement.

Roseisle beach which you can reach through a little walk through the woods, Lossiemouth with its white sand tropical looking beach and fab golf course. Spey bay - fab for wildlife and nature. A bit further along is the fishing town of Buckie and Cullen with its viaduct fab ice cream shop and also famous for its Cullen Skink. Portknockie with its bowfiddle rock. Sigh - I want to go there right now.

The castles of Moray, Highland and Aberdeenshire - too many to mention but Duffus,Cawdor,Ballindalloch, Brodie,Huntly are all fab. There are so many and all vary - some have ruins to explore and others are still kitted out in their finery.

Speyside has stunning scenery to walk, cycle or drive through. The distilleries have good visitor centres and sometimes offer a wee dram. Dufftown for its whiskey shops and clootie dumplings. Love the little towns and villages like Aberlour and Craigellachie

I love Nairn as a little seaside town with its small park, lovely prom (ace for kids with scooters etc and nice for pram pushing) but also the crazy golf and lovely scenery across the Moray Firth.

Grantown on Spey is a pretty little town to wander around and not too far away from there is Carrbridge and Landmark which is an excellent family day out.

The Speyside Railway between Aviemore and Boat of Garten is a lovely littlw trip to take in a steam train. They even have Thomas the Tank Engine events for the children and again - the scenery is to die for.

Baxters Visitor Centre is worth a visit. We always want to be outdoors when we are up that way but this is an excellent wet day place (although also lovely on a sunny day)with its Highlan coo in its paddock outside and outside seatimg area part of its restaurant that serves lovely food. Just up the road from Baxters is Winding Walks - and somewhere up near the top is a hidden box of notes/letters tucked away in a rock. We add to it every time we return.

Millbuies Country Park - small but again beautiful. The loch there is just the right size for an short jaunt with toddlers (especially if carrying one on your back)!!! We have also managed it with our 3 wheeler pushcair. Good little picnic spot too here.

Did I mention we love it there!!! Cannot wait to go back!!

TerraNotSoFirma Thu 28-Feb-13 17:40:04

Can I enter? If I live in the highlands and planning a holiday here?
Just checking I'm allowed. smile

IlianaDupree Thu 28-Feb-13 17:46:57

You can get the train straight through or fly to Edinburgh/Glasgow.

Raised a child in Edinburgh, loads of cheap, free, historical, arty things to do. Museum is amazing, best thing to do is get a guide to show you around as they tell you little secrets

For the country I love the highland tours, again the guides know all the hidden places/secrets which is perfect.

Loads of places with fresh local food and the whiskey tours are brilliant. Loads of local craft artists too.

I blatantly love it here

lotsofcheese Thu 28-Feb-13 17:47:23

We love Crieff Hydro & Auchrannie in Arran - they are both so child-friendly, with loads of activities to do, indoor & outdoor - so you can visit at any time of year & not worry about the weather.

sleepyhead Thu 28-Feb-13 17:52:37

We love Wester Ross - amazing beaches, great walking, wildlife etc. We've had several summer holidays based in Gairloch or the surrounding are which is less than 2 hours from Inverness, so a half day's drive for us (Central Belt).

I love the freedom that ds gets up there, and have definitely found that the quality of self-catering accommodation has massively improved since we went on holidays as children. I feel like they "get" what an important part of the economy tourism is and go all out to meet it.

We also had a great holiday in Islay last summer. That was a wee bit trickier to get to as we had to leave at the crack of dawn to catch the ferry, but ds got such a kick out of being on a proper island, again the cottage we rented was reasonably priced and beautiful, and there was so much to do - as long as spending every possible minute out of doors is what you want to do, which it was!. We kept thinking we'd found the best beach ever, and then would top it the next day.

I really value that ds is growing up with a love of bird life and wildlife, despite living in a small top floor tenement flat in the middle of a city, thanks to the beautiful places we can get away to, and the great work the RSPB do on their reserves.

Downsides of the West Coast are the midges (not inevitable, depends on the weather and time of year, but definitely off putting) and the wet weather, but we go prepared and it's not spoilt things yet. The first few holidays we went on were in May and glorious. Buggering buggery school term dates put the kybosh on that though angry. I think Scottish schools should have a special May fortnight so we can all go off and enjoy what's usually the best weather of the year...

IlianaDupree Thu 28-Feb-13 17:56:17

Amazing little cafe in Skye serves really cosmopolitan food, Electric Brae in Ayrshire, you'll be beyond amazed. Culloden made me cry, Glencoe is another world.

I have nature reserves, birds of prey, every sea bird going and free wooded estates to wander along with sailing, mountain biking and rambling.

There are amazing waterfalls, lochs, reservoirs, kids activity centres and plenty of hotels cater for dogs. Midges can be annoying but they're just an excuse for a camp fire/bbq.

Love Scotland.

JulesJules Thu 28-Feb-13 17:56:25

I love Scotland.

Slightly biased because my Mum is Scottish.

I've been loads of times before children - I live in the NE of England, so it's not far and I love the train journey up the East coast, past Lindisfarne etc.

Have only been once with the children, to Edinburgh, so we did the zoo, the gardens, Arthurs Seat etc and had a lovely time.

I would love to take them to the islands, I've never been to Shetland or Orkney, so I'd love to go there with them. I'd like to go to Islay for the whisky

sleepyhead Thu 28-Feb-13 17:57:48

Oh, and if you ever go to Poolewe (which you definitely should), visit the Bridge Cottage Cafe which has the Best Baking Ever, is v child-friendly and run by a truly lovely couple.

Then drive a bit further up the road to Firemore beach, looking out for whales and porpoises, and then come back the way you came and have more cake.

babsmam Thu 28-Feb-13 18:02:49

I would love to visit Scotland with the family. I have looked at Edinburgh a couple of times but it just is too expensive at the moment for our budget. Would also love to visit the highlands as I have lots of good memories of Scottish holidays as a child

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