Edinburgh International Climbing Arena at Ratho is amazing fun. I wish we could afford to take the kids more often – Hayley Matthews

The summer holidays can be the perfect time to explore new things. Let's face it, us parents have a lot of hours to fill with entertaining activities, great chat and fun ideas!

Kids learn lots of useful skills while climbing at Ratho (Picture: Jane Barlow)
Kids learn lots of useful skills while climbing at Ratho (Picture: Jane Barlow)

Our kids have lots of free time and endless amounts of energy, so new activities are just what they need to keep them entertained.

We'd been climbing a few years ago out at Ratho with our eldest. However, at the time our youngest child was too little to give it a go.

Now he's of an age he can climb a wall at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena at Ratho, we booked in for clip-and-climb.

When we arrived, the boys were excited. However, as soon as we stepped in and got harnessed up, our youngest had a bit of a freak out. My words of reassurance and mummy cuddles didn't help as he cried in fear.

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Nothing was helping. He asked for his dad and I needed the loo so took the opportunity for a toilet trip. I'd left him with his dad and a lovely woman in charge called Charly, half-thinking I would come back to him sitting back on the bench with his harness off.

I didn't. I came back to him halfway up a climbing wall with a huge smile on his face! Charly had worked wonders at helping him relax, find his feet as well as giving him the ability to realise that he was in complete control.

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She is amazing with the kids. She's also good at keeping adults who don't know the rules or their limits in complete check. I thanked her for her skills and time as I continued to watch my boys scaling the walls.

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It's such a wonderful space, especially for helping kids to build their confidence. I was amazed at how, after Charly had worked some of her magic, our little one was climbing up high and loving it! I was also amazed at how high my eldest got too, considering his fear of heights. He loves to climb though so he’s working on this.

The centre used to run groups for children with special educational needs (SEN) so they could have smaller group sessions with more staff and going at a slower pace. However, they are not currently doing this anymore. It would be good if Edinburgh Leisure realised the benefit that SEN groups would get from clip-and-climb if they started the sessions up again.

Also, children and families would benefit from the block booking too, making it a little more affordable for those of us not in the middle classes (who are probably currently waiting on the snow coming back the Alps).

Charly and I discussed the huge benefit that climbing has for children. It gives them confidence, focus, a purpose, incredible skills and, not to forget to mention, the strength of Spider-Man!

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So climbing is now the activity that we get hounded to do on a daily basis, so my plea to EICA Ratho, as a parent of a child with some extra needs, please make it more affordable, easier to get to for those with no transport and bring back the SEN sessions for all the kids out there needing a little bit more space to be their best-ever version of Spider-Man!