January 10, 2013
It may lay claim to celebrated pandas, award winning galleries and a world famous castle, but we’ve discovered that Edinburgh offers plenty more for the visitor seeking adventure beyond the ordinary.
Built within a former quarry, the more adventurous among us always love this mighty behemoth of an arena. Europe’s largest indoor climbing space, Edinburgh’s EICA boasts 15-ft high bouldering; a sheer 90-ft ascent and a slightly perilous 50-ft overhang. Hardcore adrenaline junkies can generally be found hurtling themselves 100-ft off the ground on aerial assault course, the SkyRide. Not for the faint of heart. EICA: Ratho, South Platt Hill, +44 131 333 6333, www.eica-ratho.com, Mon-Fri 9am-10pm; Sat & Sun 9-6pm.
Not many capitals we’ve been to have a dormant volcano sitting at the heart of the city. And Arthur’s Seat set in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park – a short walk from the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Scottish Parliament – not only provides one of the most extraordinary panoramic views from its peak, but a half hour walk down the other side takes you to the Sheep Heid Inn, reputedly Scotland’s oldest pub (compete with 19th century skittle alley). Holyrood Park & 43-45 The Causeway, +44 131 661 7974, www.thesheepheidedinburgh.co.uk.
One of a kind north of the border, Alba Ballooning takes us on a classic hot air balloon flight over the Edinburgh, Fife and Perthshire countryside. Scottish weather permitting, flights set off a few hours after sunrise or a few hours before sunset to ensure you see all the surrounding castles, reservoirs and peaks in all their glory. Meet at Hillend, Edinburgh, +44 1875 830 709, www.albaballooning.co.uk, call ahead to check flight availability.
Forget the identikit city bus tour, we want something extraordinary on a city tour. Trike Tours Scotland offers something a little different, with a chauffeur driven tour of the city on a motorised trike. Tours run from 1-3 hours and there are several Edinburgh-based rides, including the All Day Breakfast Tour, the Trike Tour and Photo Shoot, and our personal favourite, the Afternoon Cocktail Tour, complete with a whisky cocktail pit stop. Leather jackets and helmets are provided, so you even look the part. Various venues, Edinburgh, +44 800 056 7779, www.triketoursscotland.com, daily, tour times vary.
As the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, to say Edinburgh’s literary heritage is quite rich is like saying Scotland has a few castles. From Rabbie Burns and Sir Walter Scott to Ian Rankin and Irvine Welsh, the capital’s bookish credentials are plentiful, and we think there’s no better way to celebrate them than with this long-established and much-loved cultural crawl around the watering holes of Edinburgh, offering not only a great background to the city’s writers but also its history. Meet outside the Beehive Inn, Grassmarket, +44 800 169 7410 nightly 7.30pm, check www.edinburghliterarypubtour.co.uk for seasonal date changes.