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The benefits of spending time outdoors this summer

The National Trust for Scotland is a charity that cares for over 100 places across Scotland. Its aim is to ensure that people of all ages have the opportunity – both now and in the future – to discover new places, make memories and learn more about Scotland’s natural and cultural heritage, all while experiencing the positive wellbeing impact of the outdoors. In this blog, Sarah Cowie highlights the importance of spending time outdoors this summer.

During the month of June, my role took me across the country to meet different school groups as they explored our amazing places. From measuring the age of a tree at Crathes Castle, to mimicking a seal’s banana balance in Brodick Country Park, each visit sparked laughter, questions, and huge enthusiasm for outdoor learning. One class teacher told me that working with our staff to learn more about how we care for the outdoors had developed her pupils mentally and physically and had given them a stronger connection to their local area.

The benefit of the being outdoors extends well beyond children and young people. A survey carried out for the National Trust for Scotland showed that 97% of Scots believe access to the outdoors is important for their mental health. The research also found that 95% of those surveyed said spending time outdoors was effective at reducing their stress levels, with 89% stating that it enhances their quality of life.

The Scottish coast topped the polls as the preferred place to spend time outdoors (58%), followed by 50% who favoured woodland spaces and 48% choosing country parks or gardens. The popularity of a wide range of landscapes, and their value to people’s wellbeing, has highlighted the importance of our charity’s work to care for, protect and share Scotland’s outdoor places.

My role is about extending and enhancing our work with schools across the many special places cared for by the Trust. That includes developing and promoting the huge range of outdoor learning experiences we offer, which are often led by our knowledgeable Ranger teams. I recently learned from our Rangers that we care for over 1 million seabirds! By engaging children in schools, we can establish that connection with our outdoor places at a young age. We can also encourage pupils to return with their families and we’re hoping many of them do that this summer.

This year, the National Trust for Scotland has launched Our Big Scottish Summer to showcase the incredible experiences available at its places across the country. From breathtaking beaches and iconic mountains to gorgeous gardens and super-fun play parks, there is something for all members of the family to enjoy over the school holidays! Click here for ways to experience and enjoy the best of what Scotland has to offer this year.

My top five places to spend time outdoors as a family this summer are:

  • Drum Castle, Aberdeenshire – crawl, slide and swing through our new Little Oaks natural playpark
  • Greenbank Garden, Glasgow – escape Glasgow city centre and explore family-friendly woodland walks
  • St Abbs Head, Borders - experience ‘seabird city’, with Coldingham Bay beach nearby
  • Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Ayr – children’s trails, a Poet’s path, and a Scots Language themed playpark mean this is a full day visit!
  • Brodie Castle and Estate, Moray – everyone can get involved in the fun in our Playful Garden, before exploring the wider estate.

Click here to find out more information on the National Trust for Scotland website.

Click here to find out more about the National Trust for Scotland's work with schools including information for teachers.

About the Author

Sarah Cowie is Senior Heritage Learning Advisor at the National Trust for Scotland.

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