How to take advantage of the longer summer days

Rossi Durie and Joyce Changes get active outdoors. Picture: Jon Savage
Rossi Durie and Joyce Changes get active outdoors. Picture: Jon Savage
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IT’S official – British Summer Time has arrived. The act of moving our clocks forward an hour tomorrow marks the end of the winter and hopefully the start of long sunny days.

Instead of lamenting the loss of an hour in bed – which is the most common reaction with the clocks going forward – why not look for the positives?

Think about what can be squeezed into that extra hour of daylight we will be blessed with every evening.

While there’s always a never-ending list of household chores that need doing, or a box set to watch, or a long soak in the bath to be had, there’s also plenty more enjoyable ways of reclaiming the extra hour, particularly in the great outdoors.

From birdwatching and exploring the city to exercising and geocaching, here’s a look at some things that will keep you occupied throughout the summer months.

Join an outdoor gym

What better way to spend your extra hour of daylight than in the fresh air getting fit at Edinburgh’s first outdoor gym? Based beside the Union Canal in Hailes Quarry Park, the outdoor gym features 11 pieces of fitness equipment, including a treadmill, exercise bikes and weights. And best of all, it’s free to use.

Take an open-top bus tour

You may have spent your whole life living in Edinburgh, but have you ever taken a ride on one of the many open-top bus tours you see passing by you as you go about your day-to-day business? With an extra hour to spare, hop on an Edinburgh Bus Tours’ City Sightseeing bus, which takes in the very best of Edinburgh’s New Town, Old Town, Grassmarket, Edinburgh Castle, National Museum of Scotland, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Our Dynamic Earth and Calton Hill. Over the summer months, up until August 30, City Sightseeing tours will run until 9pm, giving you plenty of opportunity to take advantage of the light nights.

Take up tennis

Tennis fever is not too far away. Edinburgh Leisure has created its outdoor tennis brochure to highlight what coaching and holiday activities will be running at its outdoor courts at Inverleith Park, Leith Links and the Meadows, where you can play tennis well into the evening.

Astronomy evenings at the Royal Observatory

Ever fancied getting to grips with the night sky? Public stargazing sessions run regularly in the evenings at the Royal Observatory on Blackford Hill. Budding Patrick Moores can learn how to use telescopes to observe the night skies, seek out the most interesting objects and also to find their way around the main constellations with the naked eye. Sessions which run during the summer months will observe the moon if it is visible, and also the sun with a solar scope.

Join a walking tour

And what better walking tour to go on than one that takes in a few pubs along the way? The Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour takes its “passengers” through the wynds, courtyards and pubs of the city’s Old and New Town, from the Grassmarket to Rose Street, across the Lawnmarket and Royal Mile while they learn about the haunts of literary greats such as Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott.

Geocaching

Geocaching is an outdoor adventure the whole family can enjoy. It’s basically a treasure hunt for the digital generation, where you can enjoy the freedom of being outside while discovering new places. It works by hiding a “cache” – a small waterproof treasure box – somewhere outdoors for geocachers to find using GPS.

Register on the official website www.geocaching.com.

Birdwatching at Duddingston Loch

You might forget about this natural beauty spot, but the freshwater loch is well worth a visit as it is home to a wide range of species. The northern shore of the loch is always accessible by foot, while the southern shore includes the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s reserve and bird hide. Afterwards you can nip to The Sheep Heid Inn, Scotland’s oldest pub, for a relaxing pint.