Sticky Header Container

Outdoor Education

Group of junior pupils at Merchiston Castle School immersed in nature as part of a Wild Outdoors Camp

Our J4, J5 and I Form students  had a great time at their Wild Outdoors Camp in the Scottish Borders, last week.

Clay Pigeon Shooting: Father v Son Match

On a rather chilly April day, 18 father-son pairings made their way to Bisley at Braidwood - a superb venue for clay pigeon shooting in the Borders within sight of the striking Eildon Hills.

    There are no resources or collections to display

    Outdoor Education forms a significant part of the co-curricular programme at Merchiston and your son will be encouraged to participate at every opportunity.

    The benefits of being outside and experiencing nature in all its wonder are well documented, and mental wellbeing is irrefutably linked to one’s ability to get out into the natural world. It matters very little whether your son is on a week-long adventurous trip or having a Physics lesson in the grounds of the school hauling different masses up and down in the trees to investigate forces: the simple fact of being outside and of learning in a different environment is invaluable. 

    As a Department, the Outdoor Education staff are keen to connect with as many of the academic subjects as possible. The partnership with the English Department in their exploration of Robert MacFarlane’s book The Lost Words is a shining example of this, seeking to inspire a new generation of younger pupils to learn more about the world around us.


    Merchiston is ideally situated to take advantage of the surrounding countryside. We have easy access to the Pentland Hills and the Water of Leith for mountain biking, walking and hill running, and we are only a short drive from the Lammermuir Hills, Glentress and the Borders. The Edinburgh International Climbing Arena (the largest indoor climbing wall in the world) is a 15-minute drive away and there are two other indoor climbing venues close to the school: Eden Rock and Alien Rock. We also have access to two outdoor crags within 45 minutes of the School and good transport links to bigger climbing venues in the Lake District and Northumberland. Sailing and paddling activities take place on the nearby Firth of Forth. We use the facilities and equipment at the Whiteadder Watersports Centre for kayaking, paddleboarding and windsurfing, along with Edinburgh University's outdoor centre, Firbush Point, which is available to us for residential and adventure day trips. Hill walking and winter mountaineering trips see us cross the Forth Bridge and head up to the Highlands.


    Activity Description
    Rock climbing Climbing is a popular activity helped by easy access to the indoor facility at Ratho. It is run as a weekly activity on Tuesday afternoons and/or as a series of Sunday trips. In the Summer and Autumn Terms there are trips to outdoor venues across the South of Scotland and the North of England.
    Mountain biking Mountain biking outings will often include a trip to the justifiably famous Glentress, near Peebles, with its excellent selection of graded trails and skills courses.
    Hill walking & camping Most Merchiston boys’ hill walking and camping experience is through D of E expeditions or in-House hill walks and trips. Winter trips to areas such as Glencoe have also been organized.
    Canoeing Destinations for caneoing have included the River Tummell and the River Tweed.
    Kayaking, paddleboarding & windsurfing We make regular outings to Port Edgar, Whiteadder Reservoir and Edinburgh University's Firbush Point outdoor centre for water sport activities.

    Available in the Summer Term. Follow the link to the sailing section of the website for details.

    Many of the above activities are provided by qualified full-time members of the School staff. In some cases, we contract out to relevant AALA-licensed providers.

    If you have any questions about the Outdoor Education provision at Merchiston, please feel free to contact Ms Flora McPhail, Head of Outdoor Education and Chalmers East Housemother.

    'What's on Outdoors' Newsletter

    To escape the potted, computerized, cellophane existence which is ours in the twenty-first century; to play at life’s brinkmanship, find freedom and the right to accept a challenge, test oneself to the limit, plumb the extremes of emotion and exhileration, brain, heart, eyes, strength and balance united in a single purpose – to live like a searchlight of survival searing through the total darkness of failure; to taste the stinging wine of danger, but to sweeten it with the total joy of existence.

    That’s what life is all about,
    That’s what dreams are made of.

    Neil Allinson on climbing North Crag Eliminate - Hard Rock