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Seven green family days out in Scotland

When it comes to tackling the climate emergency, decarbonising the grid has to be a priority.

Moving to renewable energy sources, including wind and photovoltaics, is becoming increasingly popular as businesses look for ways to become more energy efficient and cut their emissions. However, businesses are often limited on what they can install locally, which can mean purchasing their electricity from a low-carbon source is the most sensible solution when looking to go green.

When thinking about buying green energy, most of us understand the theory behind wind, hydro and solar power, but nothing beats seeing it in action – and we have some great places in Scotland to visit that make cracking days out for the family.

So grab your backpacks and walking shoes – don’t forget the umbrellas (it is Scotland, after all) – and have some green fun.

1. Whitelee Windfarm

Last year, more than 70% of Scotland’s renewable electricity came from wind power and it is hardly a surprise that Whitelee Windfarm played a big role in that. Not only is it Scotland’s largest onshore windfarm, but it is also the biggest in the whole of the UK. If you’re driving along the M77, about 20 minutes south of Glasgow, you cannot miss the towering wind turbines – all 215 of them. Collectively they generate enough clean electricity to power over 350,000 homes a year – that’s practically every home in Glasgow.

The windfarm does more than provide staggering views for visitors, as there is also over 130km of paths to walk, cycle or ride making it more like a country park than a windfarm.  There is an award-winning visitor centre which includes a café and offers a hands-on, interactive, educational experience for all.

Visit Whitelee Windfarm

2. Tongland Power Station (Galloway Hydro)

From wind power to hydro power – the Tongland Power Station is the largest plant in the Galloway hydro electric scheme. For those thinking renewable power sources were a new idea, parts of this Kirkcudbright site were built way back in the 1930s. Tongland is part of a major hydro scheme in the south-west that is capable of providing electricity for around 100,000 homes.

Visit Tongland Power Station

3. Falkirk Wheel

The amazing engineering of the Falkirk Wheel doesn’t produce power, but it demonstrates how even small amounts of energy can do incredible things – like lift a boat out of the water and raise it 24 metres.

It will be celebrating its 20th anniversary next year, but you don’t need to leave it until then to visit. Impress your family by telling them that each of the gondolas – there are two of them – that contain the boats holds 500,000 litres of water. But the Wheel uses just 1.5kW of energy to make a complete rotation. To put that into context, that’s about the same amount of energy needed to boil just eight kettles.

The Wheel was the world’s first rotating boat lift and shows Scottish innovation at its best. Aside from the wheel, there are plenty of paths to explore – and the Kelpies are just down the road.

Visit the Falkirk Wheel

4. Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre

Here is another great opportunity to see and learn about the power of water. The visitor centre tells the story of hydro electricity in the north of Scotland and demonstrates how it has made an impact on how we live.

There is also some amazing scenery in the area. Pitlochry Dam is home to the famous salmon ladder that enables the fish to swim upstream to breed each year.

Visit Pitlochry Dam

5. EDF Energy Hunterston B Power Station Visitor Centre

On the face of it, this doesn’t sound like somewhere to spend a day with your family – but you’d be wrong. On the guided tour, you’ll have the opportunity to see the reactor viewing gallery, the turbine hall and the control room viewing gallery.

The visitor centre has a five-star rating from Visit Scotland. The power station is one of only two nuclear stations in the country. It generates low carbon electricity – enough to power around 1.5 million homes – but it is due to be decommissioned next year.

Visit Hunterson B Power Station

6. Cruachan – The Hollow Mountain

It’s not unusual to see wind turbines and power stations on the horizon, but this one near Oban is very different – it’s buried underground. On one of the guided tours you can go deep into the mountain and see the mahoosive cavern that houses enormous turbines that are used to create hydro-electricity.

How big is the cavern? Well, it is higher than the Tower of London, which stands at around 27m.

If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll know that the next movie in the franchise is being filmed here which will make it even more popular for a day out.

Don’t miss the amazing views from the visitor centre of Loch Awe.

Visit the Hollow Mountain

7. Mackie’s of Scotland

Although Mackie’s of Scotland doesn’t have a visitor centre at the Westertown Farm factory, near Inverurie, it does have one of Scotland’s biggest solar farms and wind turbines that can be seen if you explore the area around the farm. It is quite something to see. And as no day out is complete without ice cream, Mackie’s have an ice cream parlour, called Mackie’s 19.2 that is 19.2 miles away in Aberdeen.

Visit Mackie’s

These amazing places demonstrate the power of nature and show the different ways our businesses can be powered in a low-carbon future. Renewable energy has a big part to play in decarbonising the grid and seeing these places in action can be an eye-opener for all ages.

You can find other businesses taking action to become more energy efficient on the Green Network for Businesses. And if you know of any other great ‘green’ places to visit, please let us know.

*Please check all local restrictions and opening hours before travelling.

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