Stewart's Melville College boys at Glencoe

Outdoor Learning

Learning new skills through outdoor education at Stewart's Melville College

At Stewart's Melville College the boys can choose from a wide range of outdoor activities, day trips, and overseas and UK based residential trips.

From S1 to S6, boys have the opportunity to participate in many organised outdoor education activities, as well as the Combined Cadet Force and the Duke of Edinburgh's Awards scheme, where the boys can explore Scotland’s wild places and overcome physical challenges, test their commitment and their resolve, build their confidence and have fun with their friends in the great outdoors.  

S1 and S2

In S1 every pupil enjoys a day out of school to participate in outdoor activities in the Pentland Hills to learn some navigation skills and bush-craft as well as a week of outdoor projects where he can experience hill-walking, canoeing, pioneering, rock-climbing, sailing, kayaking, snorkelling, surfing and scuba-diving. In S2 boys have the opportunity to spend a night out hammocking and participate in another project week which provides a chance to enjoy mountain biking, hillwalking, sailing, kayaking, rock-climbing, river-tubing, canyoning and surfing. S1 and S2 Projects and hammocking are twinned activities run jointly with The Mary Erskine School. 


One of the highlights of their school careers takes place in S3 when boys and girls in their shared House groups enjoy the 8 day Carbisdale experience with its variety of projects including art, canoeing, environmental studies, orienteering, technology, mountain-biking, two-day expeditions, history, hillwalking and geography. Based residentially in the heart of the Scottish Highlands the pupils challenge themselves physically and also learn an enormous amount about the natural history of Scotland and about themselves through individual initiative and working together to overcome challenges, all opportunities that will be fundamental to success in their adult lives.

Combined Cadet Force

The very popular and successful Combined Cadet Force is open as a voluntary activity to pupils of The Mary Erskine School and Stewart's Melville College in S3 and above. There are Army and RAF sections of about 300 cadets. Participation in CCF offers many of the mental and physical challenges provided by the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and gives boys the opportunity to attend a variety of camps in the UK and abroad, including annual adventure training and also, for RAF cadets, the chance to fly. There are boundless opportunities to develop leadership skills by becoming an NCO as a senior pupil.

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme is extremely popular and is open to boys in S3 to S6; it can be continued until the age of 25. Many pupils complete their Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards before leaving school or continue in the Scheme at University. However, every year about 50 ESMS pupils collect their Gold Award at Holyrood Palace.

The Award is a voluntary, non-competitive programme of practical, cultural and adventurous activities, designed to support the personal and social development of young people. It offers individual challenges and encourages young people to undertake exciting, constructive, demanding and enjoyable activities in their free time. It also helps to teach young people the importance of contributing to their local communities.

The Mountain-biking Club 

The School has a thriving Mountain-biking Club which meets on a number of Sundays to exploit Scotland’s excellent mountain-biking venues, notably in the Scottish Borders. Enthusiasts in recent years have gone on to represent Scotland in competition.

The Adventure Club

The ESMS Adventure Club is available to all boys and complements our other outdoor education activities. Every year there is a programme of hill-walking trips which run on Sundays and an opportunity for senior pupils to attend winter-skills courses over two weekends. This involves learning about navigation, avalanche risk and basic survival in wild upland country. Every two years the Adventure Club will offer pupils the chance to join an expedition in remote country under the supervision of our own International Mountain Leader and a team of qualified staff. Such expeditions have included visits to the Picos in Northern Spain and snow-shoeing in Norway.

The C Neil Sharp Award

Each year a senior pupil from the School has the opportunity to be selected for this prestigious outdoor education award which involves a three-week residential course at the Loch Eil Outdoor Centre in Lochaber.

Skiing and Snowboarding

The School has an active Skiing Club where experienced skiers compete for ESMS. Our teams have competed successfully in Scottish and UK competition. Every two years there is a ski trip organised to a resort in Europe or the USA.


This is an option for boys in the senior Games programme as a weekly activity for enthusiasts during the Summer term.

Outdoor education at Stewart's Melville College forms a major part of our extra-curricular provision and is a key ingredient in our boys’ all-round education. It can help your son to become more confident and resilient and to develop skills, interests and friendships that will last a lifetime.