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Organising a free visit

How to arrange a free education visit, from when to start planning to what to bring with you.

A staff member leads a group of children down the path at Cairnpapple Hill chambered cairn.

1 Overview

You should decide where you want to go in good time. Education visits must be booked at least 10 working days in advance to qualify as free.

Find a place to visit with your group or request an educational group visit to Edinburgh Castle or Stirling Castle.

You should also check that your group qualifies for free education visits.

Scottish schools may also want to find out about the Heritage Education – School Visits Travel Subsidy for school visits.

2 Book a free visit

To book a self-led visit to Edinburgh Castle or Stirling Castle please complete our booking request form. For all other properties, contact the site direct. You will see the contact details when you find a place to visit.

Exceptions apply at some sites at certain times of year. See the free visit terms and conditions.

Have these details to hand when booking:

  • which property you wish to visit
  • preferred date and time of visit
  • name, address and contact details of your school/organisation
  • group leader name and contact details
  • size and age range of group
  • number of supervising adults
  • reason for your visit/topic of study
  • details of any access or additional support needs among your group – find out how we aim to improve access for all

You should also let us know if you:


Learning Services
Historic Environment Scotland
Holyrood Park Education Centre
1 Queen’s Drive

Telephone: 0131 652 8155/8156
Email: learning@hes.scot

3 Arrange a planning visit

Your local authority or organisation may require a risk assessment to be completed before your visit. Even if not, we recommend it.

It is the group leader’s responsibility to prepare the risk assessment for a visit to one of our sites.

We recommend you make a planning visit to help you prepare your risk assessment. Planning visits are free of charge.

To book a planning visit at Edinburgh or Stirling Castles, contact Learning Services. For all other properties, contact the site direct. You will see the contact details when you find a place to visit.

Where a planning visit isn’t possible, you can download the hazard information sheet for guidance on potential hazards at a site.


Learning Services
Historic Environment Scotland
Holyrood Park Education Centre
1 Queen’s Drive

Telephone: 0131 652 8155/8156
Email: learning@hes.scot

4 Hazard information sheets

These are available for 76 of our staffed sites. Each hazard information sheet covers:

  • pedestrian access to the site
  • external hazards
  • internal hazards

Hazard information sheets are intended as useful preparatory tools. They do not replace a group leader’s risk assessment.

Download our hazard information sheets


Aberdour Castle and Garden [PDF, 603KB]
Arbroath Abbey [PDF, 610KB]
Argyll’s Lodging [PDF, 612KB]


Balvenie Castle [PDF, 603KB]
Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces, Kirkwall [PDF, 620KB]
Blackhouse, Arnol [PDF, 634KB]
Blackness Castle [PDF, 609KB]
Bothwell Castle [PDF, 608KB]
Bonawe Iron Furnace [PDF, 624KB]
Broch of Gurness [PDF, 651KB]
Brough of Birsay [PDF, 618KB]
Broughty Castle [PDF, 626KB]


Caerlaverock Castle [PDF, 612KB]
Cairnpapple Hill [PDF, 605KB]
Calanais Standing Stones [PDF, 597KB]
Cardoness Castle [PDF, 647KB]
Castle Campbell and Garden [PDF, 610KB]
Claypotts Castle [PDF, 518KB]
Corgarff Castle [PDF, 633KB]
Craigmillar Castle [PDF, 616KB]
Craignethan Castle [PDF, 637KB]
Crichton Castle [PDF, 641KB]
Crossraguel Abbey [PDF, 614KB]


Dallas Dhu Historic Distillery [PDF, 649KB]
Dirleton Castle and Gardens [PDF, 614KB]
Doune Castle [PDF, 605KB]
Dryburgh Abbey [PDF, 634KB]
Duff House [PDF, 615KB]
Dumbarton Castle [PDF, 652KB]
Dunblane Cathedral [PDF, 594KB]
Dundonald Castle [PDF, 779KB]
Dundrennan Abbey [PDF, 551KB]
Dunfermline Abbey and Palace [PDF, 522KB]
Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel [PDF, 597KB]


Edinburgh Castle [PDF, 549KB]
Edzell Castle and Garden [PDF, 545KB]
Elcho Castle [PDF, 555KB]
Elgin Cathedral [PDF, 546KB]
Engine Shed [PDF, 427KB]


Fort George [PDF, 521KB] 


Glasgow Cathedral [PDF, 695KB]
Glenluce Abbey [PDF, 523KB]


Hermitage Castle [PDF, 527KB]
Huntingtower Castle [PDF, 528KB]
Huntly Castle [PDF, 532KB]


Inchcolm Abbey [PDF, 528KB]
Inchmahome Priory [PDF, 581KB]
Iona Abbey and Nunnery [PDF, 522KB]


Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement [PDF, 541KB]
Jedburgh Abbey [PDF, 525KB]


Kildrummy Castle [PDF, 544KB]
Kisimul Castle [PDF, 542KB]


Linlithgow Palace [PDF, 542KB]
Lochleven Castle [PDF, 814KB]


MacLellan’s Castle [PDF, 526KB]
Maeshowe and Tormiston Mill [PDF, 524KB]
Melrose Abbey [PDF, 575KB]
Meigle Museum [PDF, 628KB]


New Abbey Corn Mill [PDF, 526KB]
Newark Castle [PDF, 609]


Rothesay Castle [PDF, 609KB]


Seton Collegiate Church [PDF, 622KB]
Skara Brae [PDF, 606KB]
Smailholm Tower [PDF, 516KB]
Spynie Palace [PDF, 607KB] 
St Andrews Castle [PDF, 523KB]
St Andrews Cathedral [PDF, 525KB]
St Serf's Church and Dupplin Cross [PDF, 620KB]
Stanley Mills [PDF, 885KB]
Stirling Castle [PDF, 612KB]
Sweetheart Abbey [PDF, 615KB]


Tantallon Castle [PDF, 619KB]
Threave Castle [PDF, 521KB]
Tolquhon Castle [PDF, 546KB]
Trinity House [PDF, 527KB]


Urquhart Castle [PDF, 519KB]


Whithorn Priory and Museum [PDF, 626KB]

5 What to bring for a visit

Learning resources

We offer resources for use before, during and after your visit to help your group get the most from the experience. You can use these tools to shape your self-guided visit in line with your group’s interests.

Find out about the many types of learning resources you can download in advance.

You may also want to book expert-led activities for an additional cost. Schools Activity Programme places go quickly, so book early.

Packed lunch

You can bring a packed lunch with you. Lunch rooms are available in some of our properties. Lunch room slots are limited and can’t be booked in advance, but some lunch rooms can be booked on arrival at a site – ask a steward.

Lunch rooms must be:

  • cleared by the group after use
  • left in good condition for the next user

Our cafés and shops won’t sell alcohol to anyone visiting as part of an education group, regardless of their age.

Outdoor clothing

You’re likely to spend at least part of your visit outdoors. Check the weather forecast and make sure your group wears suitable clothing – whether it’s warm layers and waterproofs or sunscreen and hats.

Sturdy footwear with a good grip is recommended. Floor surfaces and the grounds of sites are often uneven and can be slippery when wet.