Total distance – 2.4 kilometres
Ascent – 110 metres
Walking conditions – Good, well-defined footpaths. Can be muddy by the river in wet weather. Some walking on tarmac roads within park.
Time required – Around 1.5 to 2.5 hours
Nearest Town – East Kilbride
Calderglen Country Park is a great place to take children. There’s the Children’s Zoo (avec meerkats), the Conservatory which is adjacent to ornamental gardens, an impressive playpark, and the Courtyard Coffee Shop. There’s also some great walks and nature trails. And just along the road there’s East Kilbride shopping centre. So it’s a varied and full day out.
Park in the Calderglen Country Park overflow car park which is on the road to the left just as you enter the from the A726 Strathaven Road. From there make your way onto the footpath and turn left. Keep following this path for about 400 metres then it turns right taking you down a small incline and then along the side of the Rotten Calder River which is a tributary of the River Clyde. Keep walking for another few hundred metres until you come to a footbridge over the Rotten Calder. Cross the bridge and continue in the same direction you were walking. After about another 400 metres you will see a footbridge going back over the Rotten Calder. Cross it but this time walk in the direction you have come from. This path continues to skirt along the Rotten Calder, gaining a few metres in height as you go. You will soon reach a sign pointing to the ‘Visitor Centre’. You can either ignore the sign and return to the path from where you came. Alternatively, you can take advantage of this welcome diversion as it takes you to the park attractions. Return via the tarmac road. Please watch out for cars (speed limit here is 5 mph so there shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s best to keep a tight reign on the children just in case).
Total distance – 6.5 kilometres
Ascent – 120 metres
Walking conditions – Mainly tarmac paths. Gravel/soil footpath adjacent to Loch Lomond can be muddy or even submerged during particularly wet weather. Otherwise accessible by buggy.
Time required – Around 2 to 3.5 hours
Balloch is one of our favourite places. It’s a small yet bustling town sitting in one of Scotland’s most picturesque landscapes. There’s loads for the children to do so it’s always a popular choice of destination.
Park at Loch Lomond Shores Shopping Centre. The only down-side about parking here is that you might end up abandoning your walk and instead go shopping, visit Sea Life (watch out for two-for-one offers otherwise it’s quite expensive), or go for a coffee and soft play at the Tourist Information Centre. You can even visit the Maid Of The Loch paddle steamer.
The route really starts just beyond Sea Life. Take the path going North East. After about 200 metres you cross a road and the path bends off to the right and follows the River Leven for a few hundred metres. You then cross the road bridge and turn left to take the path at the river’s edge. From then on in it’s basically a big loop around Balloch Country Park. We usually do it in an anti-clockwise direction. This involves an easy ascent along tarmac paths past Balloch Castle (great spot for a picnic). The path then leads you down along the edge of Loch Lomond. Keep walking until you get to the road bridge you previously crossed. Return via the same route.
Total distance – 1.7 kilometres
Ascent – 60 metres
Walking conditions – Roads, pavements and good paths. Footpath through forest can be muddy. The stairs up Pitlochry Dam are a bit steep.
Time required – Around 45 minutes to 1.5 hours
My first impression of Pitlochry was that it is a picture postcard town set within a stunning Highland landscape. However, that didn’t explain why it was jam-packed with tourists and buzzing at all hours of the day. As it turns out one of the main reasons for this lies south of the River Tummel and is the Pitlochry Festival Theatre. But there are numerous other reasons for Pitlochry’s popularity. Recently, we did a little circular walk form the centre of town to the theatre taking in Loch Faskally by way of the Pitlochry Dam. This short and pleasant walk provided us with a good flavour of the place.
Park near the centre of town and make your way to the railway station which in itself is a place of interest. Take the path going east then turn right under the railway bridge. Walk past the car park, cross the road and take the footpath through the forest. This short forest walk takes you out at a small housing estate. To the left hand edge of this estate is a path that leads directly on to a footbridge taking you over the River Tummel. Turn right and you’ll pass by a very pleasant riverside pub with the theatre up the hill on the left. It’s a great place to stop for a picnic as there are plenty of wooden benches and a great view. Pitlochry dam is also a couple of hundred metres away. Walk along the road then make your way up a series or little stairways and channels which take you to the top of the dam. Cross the dam then make your way back to the railway station. There’s a quaint little footbridge you can cross between platforms.
We’ve been to Pitlochry on several occasions and each time stayed at Scotland’s Hotel which was great fun and relatively inexpensive. There are always new things to do and explore in Pitlochry and it won’t be long before we’re back.
Total distance – 2.8 kilometres
Ascent – 90 metres
Walking conditions – Good, well-defined footpath. Slightly steep ‘Summit Path’. No difficulties.
Time required – Around 1.5 to 3.5 hours
Nearest Town – Drymen
The first time we visited Inchailloch Island we were part of a large group on a guided tour with a Loch Lomond Park Ranger. Unfortunately, after about five minutes a boisterous, uncontrollable two year old who we all know and love prompted us to abandon the guided tour and instead wander around the island by ourselves. This turned out to be the perfect scenario as it enabled us to explore the whole island. And what an island it is!
Go to the Boat House at Balmaha (next to the Oak Tree Inn) and find out when the next boat to Inchcailloch leaves. They’re pretty regular (I think they run from around 0900-1700) and throughout the whole year. The ten minute boat trip takes you to the Inchcailloch North Jetty which you can see from the Boat House. When you get on the island simply follow the well-marked footpath (Central Path). This path leads directly to the beach/barbecue site of Port Bawn which is at the other side of the island. As you walk along this path you will see a marked path on your right leading off to the burial ground. Although not part of our route (see below) it’s a good diversion. You will also come across a well-marked path on the left (Summit Path) which takes you a circular route through the highest point on the island. This is a great walk through the trees and provides some of the best views of Loch Lomond. Return to the main path and make your way to Port Bawn. On hot summer days expect large numbers of walkers and a party atmosphere. Return to the North Jetty via the Central Path and await pick-up.
When you get back to Balmaha you can let the children play in the play-park, feed the ducks, or walk along part of the West highland Way. Whatever you do take time to have a wander around this enchanted place called Balmaha.
Great Scottish Run/ Toddler Dash at George Square
Total distance – 5.2 kilometres
Ascent – 30 metres
Walking conditions – Entirely roads, pavements and good paths. No difficulties.
Time required – Approximately 2 hour’s walking time plus however long you wish spend at the numerous attractions
Glaswegians like a long lie at the weekend; apart from those who haven’t been to bed yet. This provides the fantastic opportunity of going for a morning walk around some of the Scotland’s busiest and most interesting streets whilst it’s still quiet.
Park at Templeton Street on Glasgow Green. Walk along this road and you will quickly reach the Doulton Fountain, which is the world’s largest Terracotta fountain and lies next to the People’s Palace. The People’s Palace is also a great tourist attraction. Apart from the museum (free entry) which charts the history of Glasgow there is a magnificent large glasshouse at the back which is home to a delightful café and features a variety of trees and shrubbery and leads out into beautiful gardens. From there, walk to the other side of Glasgow Green and cross the road at the High Court. Follow the path next to the Clyde for a few hundred metres then turn right just past the St. Enoch’s Centre. This will take you directly to the pedestrianized zone of Buchanan Street which my wife reliably informs me is one of Europe’s great retail centres. Walk as far as the Buchanan Galleries then walk down to George Square. There is always something going here including any manner of street performers and organised displays.
By now you will probably experience the dilemma of choosing somewhere to go for lunch. If you walk from George Square down Queen Street you will find a number of well-reputed places to eat at Royal Exchange Square. Then make your way back to Glasgow Green via Argyll Street.
There are some really good play-parks in Glasgow Green particularly the one on Templeton Street which should be close to where you’ve parked.