Schools programme

At the Water of Leith Conservation Trust, we offer engaging educational programmes for school groups, tailored to meet the Experiences and Outcomes of the Curriculum for Excellence. We have programmes for Nursery Groups, Primary Schools and Secondary Schools. We also offer a winter outreach programme, a JASS workshop (detailed below) and this winter we are very pleased to pilot an outdoor education programme tailored to meet the needs of special needs classes.

Our programmes, which are located at The Water of Leith Visitor Centre, 24 Lanark Road, Edinburgh, provide experiential learning opportunities in our fully resourced classroom, our popular interactive river exhibition and on the banks of the Water of Leith. The Programmes are supported by the City of Edinburgh Council's Children and Families Department.

Detail of all programmes are below or you can Click here to see our Brochure and Programme

Here are two useful sets resource posters on the mammals and birds of the river - free to download and print




PRIMARY - Primary School Programmes at the Water of Leith Visitor Centre - available All Year Round

Living Things, Wild Places, Our Environment

Water and Rivers  P3-P7

Explore the Water of Leith, learn about the diversity of its wildlife and its rich human history, see the water cycle in action and consider ways to conserve this valuable resource. Activities: interactive exhibition, activity walk, river dipping, surveys and art workshop.

Woodland Places: Seasonal Changes  P1-P7

Explore the rich diversity of woodland habitats, investigate life cycles and food chains, consider the adaptations of woodland plants and animals and understand the importance of plants to life on earth. Activities: interactive exhibition, sensory and discovery walk, surveys and art workshop.

Bugs and Beasties  P1-P7

Explore the world of invertebrates, investigate their habitats, learn about food chains and life cycles and find out about their important role in nature. Activities: interactive exhibition, sensory and discovery walk, surveys and art workshop.

Active Citizens - Sustainable Rivers  P3-P7

Join our river charity for a hands-on day to find out how we look after the river: explore the biodiversity of the ancient woodlands and investigate the impact of human activity upon the river and woodland habitats. Activities: interactive exhibition, conservation activity, environmental investigation of the Water of Leith, river dipping (optional), ‘Active Citizens’ classroom activity.

Biodiversity Matters   P3-P7

Investigate the importance of the interdependency of all living things, with an emphasis upon the wide variety of plants and animals in our local environment. Activities: interactive exhibition, environmental walk to river and woodland habitats, shadow puppet art workshop.

People and Place: Past and Present

Canals and Transport: Past and Present    P2-P7

Explore Edinburgh’s Union Canal:  become an urban archaeologist to look for traces of its past and find out about the people who built it and why, and investigate the canal’s wildlife and current uses. Activities: slide talk, canal activity walk, and boat building workshop.

Jacobites in Edinburgh   P4-P7

Take a step back in time to re-live and explore the issues and consequences of the 1745 occupation of Edinburgh by the Jacobite army. Activities: classroom activity and slide talk, Jacobites at Grays Mill drama activity trail and encampment, art workshop.

Water, Sustainability and Our Milling Heritage  P4-P7

Explore Edinburgh’s milling legacy on the Water of Leith whilst looking at the river’s future use for sustainable energy production. Activities: interactive exhibition, river walk, renewable energy art workshop.

All our workshops are 9.30 am to 2.15 pm for P3 to P7 and 9.30 am to 12.30 pm for P1 and P2 (with the option of staying on in the classroom to eat lunch after the workshop).

Cost: CEC schools £4.50 per child. Other schools £5.00 per child.

Winter Outreach Programme (November to April only)

Your Local Environment (for schools within walking distance of the canal or river)   P3-P7

What did the environment around your school look like 12,000 years ago? Or 120 years ago? What are some of the animals and plants that grow and live along the waterside? Who were some interesting or famous people who used to live right next door? In this bespoke programme, our Education Officer spends the day with your class to help you find out more about your Local Environment. Activities: interactive timeline and guided walk along the river/canal and art workshop (for the full-day option).

Cost: Full-day £60, Half-day £40                                                                                                              

Plants and Wildlife. Food Chains. The Water Cycle    P1-P7

Choose one from these three topics for a hands-on, interactive, one-hour workshop bringing the plants and animals of the Water of Leith right into your classroom. Activities: PowerPoint presentation, interactive classroom activities and games.

Cost: £20


Secondary School Field Studies at the Water of Leith Visitor Centre - All Year

Water and Rivers, Broad General Education  S1-S3

This interdisciplinary programme explores the river in the ancient woodlands of The Dells. Pupils identify river features and conduct experiments to measure river velocity and map the river bed. They investigate the health of the river through freshwater invertebrate sampling and learn about the rich history of the river as well as conservation issues the river is facing today.

Rivers and Valley Field Studies for Physical Environments   -   Senior Stage

Pupils work in small groups to measure and to record the channel width, depth, wetted perimeter, velocity, bedload and gradient at three different locations on the river. All equipment and worksheets for data collection are provided. The study also explores the influence of the river upon the formation of the landscape, the human history of this urban waterway, as well as current land use and conservation issues facing the river. This study can either be completed at three locations in the Craiglockhart Dell or, for schools with transport, in the upper stages in the Pentlands, at the middle stages in the Dells and in the lower middle stage in Stockbridge.

We also offer bespoke programmes for Higher and Advanced Higher Biology and Higher Environmental Science, so if you don’t see exactly what you are looking for, give us a call and we will develop a programme which meets your needs.

Both programmes can be conducted as a full-day study from 9.30 am to 2.15 pm or condensed as a half-day programme at the convenience of the school.

Cost: CEC schools £4.50 per child. Other schools £5.00 per child.


JASS at the Water of Leith     P5-S2 (All Year)

Come to the ancient woodlands of the Craiglockhart Dells to earn the Adventure section of the JASS award. This three-hour outdoor programme explores the woods and develops survival skills through orienteering, shelter building and even fire-making. Learn about the plants and animals in the woods and contribute to the health of the river by participating in a conservation challenge.

9.30 am-12.30 pm (Schools are welcome to eat lunch in the classroom after the programme.)

Cost: £4.50 per child



We offer an one-and-a-half hour interactive visit to the Centre and riverside, to experience the nature and wildlife of this special place. Topics are seasonally adapted and nurseries can choose from Weather and Water, Woodlands, Plants and Animals on the Water of Leith, and Looking after Our World (litter and recycling).

Nurseries can use the classroom for a snack break during the visit. Cost: £2 per child.

Cost: £2 per child.


Contact us

For more information or to book a programme please call our teacher Ruth Prince or Sandie our administrator on 0131 455 7367 or email

Visit us at the Water of Leith Visitor Centre, 24 Lanark Road, Edinburgh, EH14 1TQ.  Open Daily 10.00 am to 4.00pm

Lothian buses 44 & 34 stop outside the Visitor Centre and Slateford Station is just minutes away.

All Programmes can also be tailor made to suit your class activities.
For more details, or to book a Programme, please contact us here, or at:

Education Officer
Water of Leith Visitor Centre
24 Lanark Road
EH14 1TQ
Telephone  0131 455 7367