TFN's top five social enterprise day trips offers guilt-free family fun whether you're a thrill seeker, nature lover or history buff
New Lanark, South Lanarkshire
What’s it about: One of Scotland’s five Unesco World Heritage sites, New Lanark is the village and cotton mill run by social reformer Robert Owen in the early 19thcentury. The visitor experience tells the story of how Owen created decent homes, fair wages, free health care, a new education system for villagers and the first workplace nursery school in the world. The village is still home to 65 households, is a national nature reserve and has several social enterprise businesses, including the Lanark Mill hotel.
The good: all the cash generated goes to the New Lanark Trust, which was established in 1974 to restore and regenerate village of New Lanark as a living and working community as a major source of employment and commercial activity in the area. It now contributes around £7-8 million to the local economy each year.
Price: family ticket (2 adults & 2 children) £25.
Bridge 8 Hub, Edinburgh
What’s it about:Bridge 8 Hub is Scotland’s first canal based outdoor activity centre and is situated in south west Edinburgh. Whether participants are looking for taster sessions or more adventurous trips, it offers canoeing, raft-building, kayaking, fatyaking, akwakating, archery, mountain biking and rock climbing. Bridge 8 also provides canoe, kayak and stand-up paddle board hire while mountain bikes can be hired from the Go Bike Hub.
The good: Bridge 8 Hub’s fundamental principle is that anyone wishing to access the outdoors should have the opportunity to do so. It aims to transform the Calder Gateway site in the city’s Westerhailes from a disused and overgrown wasteland into a thriving outdoor activity hub. Its vision is to create a hub from reusable shipping containers.
Price: £24 per person for 2.5 hours canoeing, kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding lesson
The Highland Wildlife Park, Kingussie
What’s it about:if you want to spot a polar bear, endangered Amur tiger or even a bison, the Highland Wildlife Park in Perthshire is the spot to do it in Scotland. Its 200 acres provides space for a diverse range of animals including native species such as the capercaillie and the Scottish wildcat.
Thegood:The Highland Wildlife Park is run by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, which has been working to promote the awareness and conservation of rare and endangered animals for over 100 years.Recent projects range from protecting the African forest elephant in Gabon to assessing population genetics of sand gazelle in Oman.
Price: Family ticket (2 adults & 2 children) £48.
The Experience, Hillington Park
What’s it about: the Experience is home to Scotland’s only indoor electric go-karting arena with electric karts quietly performing at speeds of up to 35mph on an exciting track full of twists and turns. There’s also the Laser Experience, slot car racing, children’s party options and the academy restaurant and training kitchens. VisitScotland recently awarded The Experience five stars.
The good: Operating as a social enterprise, The Experience provides employment opportunities for young people age 16+ with barriers to employment. It was set up and is run by Kibble Education and Care Centre.
Price: E-family karting (2 adults & 2 children) £50.
RSPB Loch Leven Nature Reserve, Fife
What’s it about:Set on the southern shore of the loch, RSPB Loch Leven nature reserve offers a great day whether you want to climb the trail through the woodland to the top of Vane Hill for a view over the Kinross-shire hills, meander down to the wetland trail where three hides allow you to get really close to nature, or cycle the 13-mile full-circuit Loch Leven heritage trail. In the summer, you could see ospreys on the loch and in the winter, thousands of pink-footed geese, swans and ducks make the reserve their home. The RSPB café, with fantastic views across the loch, serves local and ethical food all year round.
The good: The RSPB is the country’s largest nature conservation charity. It was set up in 1889 to protect threatened birds and wildlife.
Price:RSPB Loch Leven visitor centre family ticket £10 (free for RSPB members).