Scottish Assault Courses recently held their Winton Halloween 5K Obstacle Run on Winton Estate in East Lothian, attracting over 180 runners from all over Scotland. Ghosts, ghouls, werewolves and vampires descended on Winton from as far and wide as Angus, Ayrshire, Edinburgh and the Lothians, with most participants entering the spirit of the run by arriving in Halloween attire.
The Winton Halloween Night-Time 5K attracted teams from local running clubs, obstacle course clubs and a wide variety of participants, young and old, from across the country. RTR scaffolding, who generously sponsored the event and built the climbing platforms complete with fireman’s pole, said it was a pleasure to be involved in such a fun event, and especially liked seeing participants tackling their version of a rope swing over the muddy water pit!
These ghastly challenges complemented the high walls, tunnels, monkey bars and many mud and water obstacles which made up the new 2-mile long Edinburgh Assault Course on the estate.
“I ran the course with my son Calum,” says Francis Ogilvy, owner of Winton. “The experience of climbing obstacles together, sliding through them, crawling along them or under them is easier to share than describe! We enjoyed mud-caked grins, the shock when the freezing river water penetrated to the skin, and the shakes that make drinking hot chocolate afterwards very welcome, so didn’t mind the aching muscles the next day!
“It was also refreshing to be running alongside the Scottish Cross-Country champion, and I don’t need to say that he was half my height and still at Primary school!
“Perhaps the experience was like a good wine, enjoyed in three stages: the bravado beforehand, the comedy during, and the stories afterwards. There’s surely a bit of that in everyone! The Scottish Assault Courses team had designed the course for all ages and stages.”
Scott Smith and Gus Mcleod, Co-owners of Scottish Assault Courses Edinburgh, says: “Motivating music and warm-ups were provided by Lasertech Disco. For the first time, we’d got Light Audio to provide moving light, smoke and chilling sound effects in the woods. The results were spectacularly scary!
“Afterwards, the food and drink, with burgers, chips and cheese from Winton Events, were a firm favourite.”
The existing assault course on the Winton Estate is suitable for adults and kids age 8 upwards. Ever popular with birthday parties, hens and stags, school groups, corporate incentive events, company awaydays and OCR enthusiasts, the post-event feedback is always positive judging by the broad smiles on the participants faces crossing the finishing line. To support the runners, Winton is always on hand to cater for hungry appetites by laying on delicious party food, from sandwiches and picnics, to BBQs and hog roasts
Scott and Gus add: “Feedback on the Halloween 5K has been superb with lots of runners commenting on the photos on the Scottish Assault Courses Edinburgh Facebook page. Thank you very much to Grant Bullock Photography for his excellent photos, and a huge thank you to the registration team and marshals who all volunteered their time to help.”
Next year’s Winton Halloween Night-Time 5K Obstacle Course Run will be on Saturday 31st October 2020 and promises to be bigger and better than ever. Scottish Assault Courses Edinburgh and Winton Events look forward to seeing everyone getting their ghosts on again in 2020!
You can see more on the Winton Castle website.
Thanks to Bulloch Photography for the excellent photos.
Edinburgh’s New Town is packed full of restaurants, coffee shops and historic venues, making it a great destination for a day out. It’s one of the best places to meet up with friends for lunch, dinner or drinks; or as the location for a really inspiring conference or meeting.
Built in a grid layout from the late 1700s onwards, the New Town is an example of Georgian splendour and was designed to house those with aspirations to escape the more haphazard life in the city’s Old Town. With crescents, squares and gardens, the New Town is a beautifully designed space and is packed full of architectural gems.
The rectangular of streets between St Andrew Square and Charlotte Square hosts many of the city’s favourite restaurants and cafes. George Street is famous for its buzz, largely thanks to popular eateries including Baba, Café Andaluz, Brown’s Brasserie and Gusto and Contini. If you are looking to go off the beaten track, some of the best coffee can be round in the Wellington or Cairngorm cafes, and independent restaurants like Noto and Dusit on Thistle Street are also worth seeking out.
Set in a city that welcomes thousands of people for conferences and meetings every year, the New Town is a good place to seek out perfect and unique venues, suitable for all sizes of event. Close to the rail station and the tram which whisks visitors to the airport quickly; and also home to a wide variety of hotels, the New Town is ideally located for events and meetings. A quick round-up from our portfolio of luxury venues offers a glimpse of what Edinburgh offers delegates:
The Merchants’ Hall on Hanover Street is a superb example of nineteenth century splendour and is owned by the City’s Merchant Company. Welcoming up to 200 guests, the Hall is home to fine art and sculptures and underwent a restoration in 1995. It is now the perfect venue for board meetings, events and weddings.
Close by, the beautifully restored Assembly Rooms also houses some of Edinburgh’s finest event spaces. The stunning Ballroom is a magnificent light-filled space with its huge Georgian windows and impressive chandeliers, while the Music Room is a flexible and dramatic venue suitable for up to 600 guests.
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Also set in the heart of the Edinburgh New Town, overlooking the Queen Street Gardens, is the Royal College of Physicians . Designed by Robert Adam, the College dates back to the late 1700s and its rooms offer a stunning backdrop for dinners and receptions. With its physic garden, the College also has an outdoor area for small receptions. Seating up to 300 people, its modern conference centre is right up to date and has comprehensive and modern AV facilities.
The magnificent National Galleries house Scotland’s world-renowned collection of art with works from Rembrandt to Van Gogh, Picasso to Warhol. Available to hire, the spaces within the galleries can welcome cocktail receptions, private views and dinners. Also in the Galleries is the excellent Scottish Restaurant with its views over Princes Street Gardens. The Galleries are currently undergoing a significant transformation with new facilities due to open in early 2021, but its still very much open for business.
Are there many better spots to enjoy dinner then surrounded by historic works of art? The @NatGalleriesSco certainly know how to put on an event that will leave an impression! https://t.co/RAh00kfa4x #events #eventvenue #edinburgh pic.twitter.com/gDIEu7QZCd
— Unique Venues of Edinburgh (@UVofE) October 8, 2019
Also close by the New Town are some of our other venues including the spectacular Mansfield Traquair; Riddles Court and the Scotch Whisky Experience on the Royal Mile; and of course, Edinburgh Castle, which presides over the city and offers historic grandeur for many different events. Edinburgh’s city centre is easily walkable and most of the New and Old Town venues, cafes and restaurants are in easy walking distance of each other.
Edinburgh’s New Town is home to many architectural splendours and is a great place to meet up and inspire your delegates, or just enjoy an afternoon shopping and meandering through the lanes and crescents that are admired the world over.
Some would argue that summer never really began in Edinburgh, but one thing that we can be certain of is that winter is very much en route. But don’t let that conjure images of wet, windy weather – think instead of blue skies, frosty mornings and most importantly, Christmas parties.
The list of reasons to hold a Christmas party could stretch from Edinburgh to the North Pole – but at its core, there’s no better time to get everyone together to celebrate the year. Office Christmas parties are renowned for being one of the highlights of the year, and provide the team with memorable moments and watercooler anecdotes to last a lifetime.
But who said offices get to have all the fun? Festive parties are for everyone to enjoy, from societies to squash clubs – or why not consider organising a winter ceilidh for charity? The possibilities are endless with Edinburgh’s most spectacular spaces. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of our top picks for the festive season:
With exquisite Georgian architecture and a central location at the heart of Edinburgh’s old town, the Signet Library is an easy choice for those seeking to impress. On the hunt for something more intimate? Nestled within a quiet courtyard off the Mile, Riddle’s Court is a stunning historic venue with plenty of atmosphere. Hopping further down the mile, the City Chambers also provides an enthralling backdrop to any event.
Take a tour
A venue with spirit, the Scotch Whisky Experience can offer unforgettable private dining, group tours of one of Edinburgh’s top tourist attractions, and a dram to top it all off. Those braving the cold at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh will be rewarded with a magical illuminated trail and a festive spiced cider, mulled wine or hot chocolate.
Give your Christmas bash a sense of grandeur by hosting your festivities in one of Edinburgh’s magnificent Castle venues. The exclusive-use Winton Castle and Dundas Castle provide sleek and historic getaways, not far from the city centre, with event co-ordinators who are not afraid to hold back! For those seeking to see the capital’s sights while they are looking their best, don’t miss Edinburgh Castle’s offering, which includes the Castle of Light event – a stunning experience which will illuminate nine locations across the venue.
Hide away from the winter weather in one of Edinburgh’s subterranean spaces – The Caves and Real Mary King’s Close. While the weather outside may be chilly, these historic venues will undoubtedly light a fire under your event. Each with their own fascinating history, these venues boast plenty of character and are ideal for anyone looking to host an unforgettable event.
Take a walk on the wild side and host your party at Edinburgh Zoo or Dynamic Earth. Amongst Edinburgh’s most unique spaces, how many people can say that they’ve attended an event with penguins or an iceberg – whichever venue chosen, it will be a roaring success.
However your Christmas plans shape up this festive season, be sure to choose a unique venue which will act as a striking backdrop to any memorable event. To begin planning your event, browse through our member venues or filter your choices using the quick search tool. When ready, you can easily get in touch with multiple venues at once using the enquiry form.
If you think it’s too late to indulge in some festive fun with a festive party, think again. Party planners in Edinburgh are blessed with a plethora of different options and with a host of Edinburgh’s most unique venues at your fingertips, it’s never been easier to organise a winter bash to see out 2019 in style.
Fiona Ralph and Craig Shiells from Edinburgh held their relaxed family wedding at Winton Castle earlier this year. The couple celebrated with 70 family and friends and have kindly shared their story with us to bring to life the possibilities of hosting an event at this truly unique Edinburgh venue.
This is their lovely story, generously told by Fiona:
“When thinking about possible ideas for our wedding venue, we kept coming back to the idea of having somewhere that we could escape with our family and friends for a weekend and have the whole place to ourselves.We had seen Winton online and made initial contact to visit the venue. Rae immediately made us feel at home when we visited and as soon as we stepped through the door with the roaring fire and stunning surroundings, we began to get really excited!
“The Castle itself completely took our breath away with its stunning architecture and exquisite gardens. The interior of the Castle was so elegant yet had so much character and historical importance that we just couldn’t see ourselves having our wedding anywhere else!
“The rooms all flow into each other and there were plenty of comfy seats by the fire where people could sit and chat if they wanted a break from dancing. It was lovely to pass by at various points and see people chatting away with other guests who they didn’t know before the wedding. After our wedding we loved hearing that people have stayed in touch and made new friends.”
How did you choose Winton Castle, did you view any other venues?
We viewed four wedding venues, most of which were in East Lothian. We loved one of the other venues but once we viewed Winton, all other options didn’t seem anywhere near as perfect for us!
We loved the fact that we didn’t need a marquee and that we could have our whole reception in the Castle itself. It rained quite a bit on our wedding day but it just didn’t matter! We knew that having chosen Winton, we could take advantage of the stunning gardens if the weather was nice, but if the rain came, it wouldn’t be a problem.
What was the format of your wedding?
We stayed two nights in the Castle which gave us Friday to Sunday so it really felt like a wedding weekend. We arrived on Friday evening and after unpacking and settling into our rooms, we kick off the weekend with some Champagne in the garden with our family and bridal party. Then had a relaxed dinner and a lovely evening looking forward to the wedding the next day.
The wedding ceremony itself took place at Duddingston Kirk, then we travelled back to Winton for the reception. Guests were greeted with drinks and canapes carefully made by Appetite. Andy Lucas played the piano for guests while they chatted at the drinks reception, and we had our photos taken in the gardens. Not even the pouring rain stopped us getting our photos taken outside in the gardens – I don’t think you can really tell from the photos.
After the drinks reception, we were brought through for the speeches which were followed by a three-course wedding breakfast. The level of detail that Winton go to in terms of setting the tables with candelabras, silver cutlery and crystal glassware was so beautiful to see when you walked into the room! The meal was absolutely wonderful and went down a treat with our guests.
After cutting the cake, it was time for the band to start! They were incredible and our guests were raving about them for weeks after the wedding. We had the best time dancing the night away with our family and friends. It was such a joy to see everyone dancing, laughing and enjoying themselves.
How was Winton’s food, drink and hospitality?
Simply outstanding. We heard nothing but compliments about the food provided by Appetite Events and the hospitality of Winton staff. We gave our guests a choice for their meal and the organisation of this was absolutely seamless. Staff knew exactly which meal was going to who and it seemed so effortless.
Winton and Appetite were so flexible and approachable in terms of building our wedding menu. We couldn’t have asked for more than the help and guidance given by Winton and Appetite and their expertise was so valuable. The service of Winton’s staff throughout the evening was wonderful. Staff were even kind enough to go round and ask our older relatives who were sitting chatting by the fire if they could get them a glass of something.
What were your most memorable and romantic moments?
Our guests absolutely loved being at Winton. We received so many compliments on the day from friends and family, and several months later, people are still raving about the venue. It was so lovely to see our friends and family enjoying the day and everyone felt really relaxed in the venue itself.
The most memorable moment was meeting Craig at the altar in the church. It was a really emotional moment for both of us having been together for 10 years, since we were 16. To be surrounded by all our closest family and friends as we tied the knot was really special. We were so happy to have Craig’s grandfather say a few words at the ceremony on behalf of our grandparents, many of whom are no longer with us, and that certainly brought a tear to the eye.
Were there any moments when things didn’t completely go to plan?!
I can honestly say that the staff at Winton are really ready for anything. The first was that the fire alarm went off the night before so two or three fire engines turned up almost immediately. After it was confirmed that there was no fire, encouraged by the fire brigade and my bridesmaids, I ended up in the fire engine with the fireman’s helmet on.
The second funny incident was the extra guests that arrived! On the morning of the wedding, a couple of jackdaws managed to sneak their way into our Bridal Suite to join in with the wedding preparations. Between the extremely professional staff at Winton and one of my bridesmaids, the birds were set free – it’s is one of those brilliant stories we’ll have for years to come!
How would you describe the venue’s ambience?
When we made the initial appointment to view Winton, we knew it was going to be a beautiful venue but one thing that we didn’t expect was that we would feel so instantly at home and relaxed in the Castle. This is one thing that Winton does better than everywhere else – we were truly made to feel like we were at home each time we visited.
We were made to feel so welcome and were truly spoilt by the hospitality of Winton staff the whole time we were there. For such a grand building, Winton is so relaxed and flexible, and has a feeling of warmth and friendliness that made our experience so wonderful
Do you have any ideas or suggestions on how Winton could improve its hospitality?
I genuinely don’t think you could top it. We already knew that the staff at Winton were wonderful but the warmth, friendliness, helpfulness and professionalism of all staff was absolutely outstanding. We couldn’t have been more impressed and are so grateful to all at Winton for everything. In particular, Rae is truly one of a kind and we owe a lot to her.
Photographers: Craig & Eva Sanders
Dress: Suzanne Neville at Rachel Scott Couture
Florist: Whitehouse Flowers
As climate change and sustainability becomes a greater concern for businesses around the world, our unique members constantly strive to ensure these fantastic venues are as environmentally friendly and energy efficient as possible.
But how do they do it and why? The team at Dundas Castle can help explain:
“We regularly evaluate our current systems to analyse if they can be updated to reduce our impact. We began this journey a few years ago and already have a number of alternatives in place throughout the Castle and Estate. Our team are always learning new ways to make Dundas as eco-friendly as possible and believe we still have room to improve.”
Here are five ways the venue is contributing to a healthier planet:
1.The company ethos
Dundas Castle is passionate about living greener with each staff member having a conscious mindset outside and inside of work. Small changes such as documents automatically being printed double sided in order to save paper, recycling our ink cartridges and trying to only print when really necessary add up to reduce our office impact. Car sharing is common between employees and procedures are in place to ensure all of our glass, cardboard and plastic are being recycled along with all food waste and cooking oil.
The team recently updated the Housekeeping equipment to adopt ‘smart technology’. This includes washing machines with ‘eco-programs’ that weigh the wash load and only add the necessary amount of cleaning liquid to reduce waste and environmental impact. The on-site tumble driers do not have a timer system, instead, the machine weighs the load, measures the dampness and dries the washing to 30% moisture. This helps the team with the ironing process but also prevents wasted energy by only drying the sheets for the necessary time
2. Energy use
Over the last few years, all of the lights throughout the venue have been converted to LED, helping the estate reduce its energy use. The venue invested in 200PV solar panels in 2012 that cover 325 square meters and produce 50kWp supplementing the Castle’s energy. In addition to this, a state of the art Biomass system was installed in 2015 to provide hot water and heating for resident guests. This is fuelled by recycled wood chips which are locally sourced.
3. Sustainable suppliers
The venue works with a variety of suppliers who are equally as passionate about contributing to a more sustainable planet.
Sodexo, Dundas’ catering partner, take on board food provenance as a priority: chefs source 70% of the food they serve from local producers, in season where possible. In 2019 plastic straws were replaced with paper ones, and the team are now investigating other ways in which the venue can reduce plastic use here.
4. Community and charity work
The owner of Dundas Castle, Sir Jack Stewart-Clark, has embedded charitable values throughout the business. Each year, we support several charities such as; RNLI, Comic Relief and the Princess Trust, through prize donations and allowing a number of organisations to use the Castle for events at a reduced fee.
Sir Jack founded a new charity in 2018, ‘Survivors of Human Trafficking in Scotland’ (SOHTIS), who work in partnership with others to encourage, enable and empower those rescued from human trafficking to rebuild their lives and integrate into society. Dundas Castle also hosts events for the charity to help them raise awareness of the cause and create the funding they need to continue their vital work.
Wildlife on the Dundas Estate is an important part of the venues sustainability. The grounds are home to various protected animals such as; swans, foxes, deer, hares and many different wild birds. The team are committed to ensuring these animals are not disturbed and are able to roam freely with no threat. So much so, that the woodland area is monitored to ensure there is very little pollution and some areas in the estate have even been developed to home some of these species. In particular, the Lothian Amphibian Group have created several small ponds to encourage breeding of the Great Crested Newt.
Planning your next event? Take a look at our quick search tool to filter venues and enquire with multiple locations at once.
Vicky & James’ wedding at Mansfield Traquair was characterised by a lovely autumn-winter theme with beautiful burgundy and dark green details, complemented with little personal details and a relaxed atmosphere. The events team caught up with the couple to ask how they planned their perfect day:
How did you end up choosing to get married at Mansfield Traquair and why?
The main reason we chose Mansfield Traquair was because of their large capacity, we had a big guest list. We also loved the fact that everything was in one space. Also because it’s such a spectacular and unique venue – you definitely feel the WOW factor when you walk in, just stunning.
How did you prepare for your wedding and the whole planning process?
Lots of lists and being organised. I also knew some of the suppliers my sister had used for her wedding 3 years ago and they were very helpful.
What did you find was most helpful about having an Event Planner?
Megan, our event designer was very helpful in answering all the questions about the logistics for the day and being the go-to person for anything!
Did you have a theme? What was it and why did you choose it?
We decided to have an autumnal theme, with burgundy as the main colour, we thought it was a nice colour to have for a November wedding and we thought complemented the venue.
How did you personalise your wedding day?
We went for simplicity, we wanted a really relaxed and chilled day for everyone involved, we mainly focused on the ceremony being the personal part of our day.
Where did you get your inspiration?
Pinterest, Instagram, the venue website and Planet Flowers website.
Describe how you found the process of selecting your wedding menu.
Very easy-going, there were loads of options and again we wanted to go for something easy that would be a crowd pleaser. The food was delicious and very high quality.
Tell us about a favourite or memorable moment.
Walking down the aisle and the ceremony, taking the venue in, seeing all our friends and family, seeing each other, seeing the venue come together with the chairs, lights, flowers, music etc. It was just amazing and loved every minute of it, after being very scared and nervous.
Any words of wisdom for future happy couples?
Try not to get wrapped in what a wedding should be, try not to over think the little details, what will be, will be. Just try to relax and enjoy every minute of it because it goes by so quickly
What are some of the compliments you’ve received about your wedding day?
Flawless service, amazing venue, spectacular ceiling, lights, flowers, the setup, food, drinks ( especially the gin!), music, all the staff – everything was just amazing, thank you.
If you had to describe your Big Day in three words, what would they be?
Unforgettable, spectacular, big party! (maybe 4 x words)
Where was your honeymoon, any big plans?
We went to South Africa, back for our fourth time, absolutely love it!