Total distance – 10.6 Kilometres
Ascent – 30 metres
Walking conditions – Well-defined footpaths, tracks and pavements. No difficulties.
Nearest town – Ayr
In any West of Scotland Maternity Unit, prior to being allowed home with your new-born baby you are obliged to sign a pledge committing to taking your child to the Ayrshire Coast at least once per year until they reach adulthood. If your wife is from an Ayrshire seaside town this commitment also forms part of your marriage vows. So far we have made good this pledge several times over as the Ayshire Coast is a fantastic destination for all. There’s beaches, parks and chippies galore. So why not take all of this, add in some Scottish Heritage and a good walk. Here’s how……
Park near Wellington Square, Ayr next to the Low Green and walk along the promenade towards Alloway whilst ensuring to point out Arran, the Heads of Ayr and Paddy’s Milestone. After about 2 kilometers you will see a footbridge crossing the River Doon. Do not cross it, but instead go left and follow the path up the east bank of the River Doon. After about 500 metres you’ll see a Spar shop next to a main road. Cross the road and take the entrance to Belleslie Park. There’s a number of excellent attractions including a play park and a walled garden. From there walk through track across the golf course and over to the B7024, which is just across from Rozelle Park, then go right. This will take you directly to Burns Cottage. By continuing along this road for another few hundred metres you will pass by Alloway Parish Church, the Burns National Monument and Memorial Gardens, and on to the Brig O’ Doon, as described by Burns in the Tam O’ Shanter poem. It’s a lovely spot. The Brig O’ Doon House Hotel beside it is an excellent place to eat and not as expensive as I had feared. For the return journey walk back the way for about 500 metres and turn left onto Greenfield Avenue which leads back to the River Doon down at the Spar shop. Then make your way back to the coast, walk along the promenade and all the way back to Wellington Square where a fantastic playpark and some good chippies await you.
Total distance – 7.9 kilometres
Ascent – 280 metres
Walking conditions – Footpaths and tracks. Can be muddy in many places especially after prolonged rainfall. Please be aware that there are some very steep drops along the Avon Gorge which are close to the path in places. It can be quite dangerous for children to veer off the path.
Time required – Around 3 to 4.5 hours
Nearest Town – Hamilton
Chatelherault Country Park is an extremely popular destination for locals and far-travelled visitors alike. Most will head straight to the visitor centre which has been built onto the back of Chatelherault Hunting Lodge. The visitor centre hosts a 12 feet long tunnel featuring a badger and fox which flash when you crawl past them (this information is largely irrelevant unless you are under 7 years old). The lodge itself was built in 1732 and undoubtedly remains one of Lanarkshire most prestigious buildings (my sister got her wedding photographs taken there) and is well worth taking some time to look around. There are also fantastic paths and nature trails which take in several interesting features. In particular, the ‘Green Bridge’ and ‘White Bridge’ circuits are excellent walks. Currently, the ‘White Bridge’ circuit can not be completed due to a landslide so we opted for the longer Green Bridge route.
From the car park head to the Visitor Centre. From the Visitor Centre (if going clockwise) take the footpath pointing to ‘White Bridge’ . This path follows the Avon gorge and steadily drops towards the river’s edge. The path then skirts along the river’s edge for about 800 metres until a wooden stairway takes you back up to the higher ground. The path then weaves its way along until it eventually drops down to the Green Bridge. After crossing the bridge you’ll find yourself on the other side of the Avon. Simply turn right and follow the path. This takes you back along the Avon gorge and through the fields, forest tracks, Cadzow Oaks, Cadzow Castle and then across the Duke’s Bridge to the Visitor Centre.
Total distance – 3.7 kilometres
Ascent – 180 metres
Walking conditions – Footpaths, faint in places. Easy going over grassy expanse. No difficulties.
Time required – Around 1.5 to 2.5 hours
Nearest Town – Largs
It’s hard to go wrong on a day out to Largs. You can wander along the coastline, visit the amusements and funfair, or perhaps board the ferry to the Isle of Bute and go for a cycle around Millport. We like to do all of these but we also like to go for a walk in the hills over-looking the town. The great thing about the Largs Hills is that they make for a fantastic summer stroll amongst magnificent surroundings.
Park at the picnic spot near the Haylie Reservoir which is on the left hand side of the A700 just up the hill from Largs. You’re already at a height of 150 metres, the view is breath-taking and there are several picnic benches adjacent to the car park. From there you’ve pretty much got a free reign to wander anywhere you like. The ground is undulating and features a number of little hillocks. We chose to go on a 180 metre ascent to Cockle Loch, but in truth on this bright and sunny day we could have picked just about any point on the landscape. There are a number of footpaths which tend to be quite faint but the going is easy and even walking on rough ground is not a problem.
Make sure you explain to the children why there are palm trees in Largs because it’s always good to mention the Gulf Stream. And don’t forget to go to the chippy!
Christmas time at M & D’s
Total distance – 7.1 kilometres
Ascent – 50 metres
Walking conditions – Tarmac footpaths. No difficulties
Time required – Around 2 to 3.5 hours
Nearest Town – Hamilton/ Motherwell
Strathclyde Loch could never be described as a Mecca for hill-walking enthusiasts. However, it’s a good, healthy circular walk with an excellent view of Tinto Hill. It’s both buggy and pram-friendly. Indeed, it’s the place where I used to jog with the pram to accompany my wife when she took up running. Strathclyde Park is also home to M & D’s as well as a state of the art water sports centre which was used for the Commonwealth Games. There’s also play-parks at various points around the route. In a nutshell, there’s loads to do and most of the the population of Lanarkshire know this. So go early to avoid them because it can get really busy. Oh, and make sure you scare the children with ghost stories about the abandoned mining village of Bothwellhaugh, which can be found, still in tact at the bottom of Strathclyde Loch.
The route could not be simpler. Park close to M & D’s and make your way to the loch-side. Then walk around the loch (we prefer anti-clockwise) on the tarmac path which goes around the edge of the entire the loch. The one deviation we would suggest is a quick visit to the Mausoleum. To get there cross the footbridge over the River Clyde which you will find just to the rear of the water sports centre. From there walk through the M74 underpass and you’ll see the Mausoleum in all its splendour just ahead of you on the right hand side of the path. Then about-turn back to the loch-side to finish off the circuit.
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 – 1.8 kilometres
Ascent – 60 metres
Walking conditions – Easy going, well-defined footpath
Time required – 2 hours
Nearest town – Lochwinnoch
Windy Hill is an ideal first ascent for toddlers, whether they want to or not. Does that sound wrong? It is little more than a pleasant stroll up a tiny hill. ie. 900 metres hike with 60 metres of ascent, but with great character and, wait for it……..a trig point!
Situated in Muirshiel Country Park, the footpath to Windy Hill starts next to the visitor centre. This in itself is a good place to keep the children busy and the toilets are clean and well maintained. The clearly sign-posted path weaves easily through a forest and then out onto about 400 metres of open ground leading to the foot of the final ascent. Before you know it you’ll be jubilantly placing your toddler on the summit trig point and promising that this will be the first of many bigger and better adventures. If your older children hear this, watch them shake their heads and roll their eyes. Too bad! Their fate is sealed. If it’s a nice day why not drive home the long way, stop off at Largs and celebrate this landmark achievement with an ice cream at Nardini’s. The Viking’s not too bad for a fish supper also.
Total distance – 4 kilometres
Ascent – 80 metres
Walking conditions – Good footpath but can be muddy in places. No difficulties.
Time required – Around 2 to 3 hours
Nearest town – Blantyre/Bothwell
Blantyre has been at some point Scotland’s second largest village, or so I was told when I was being brought up there. David Livingstone was also brought up in Blantyre. Unlike me, David did not spend his time writing blogs but instead became one of the world’s great explorers who discovered large parts of Africa. Consequently, his birthplace has been preserved within the aptly named David Livingstone Memorial Centre. My birthplace however, was more akin to something out of the Five Yorkshire Men Monty Python sketch. I do not expect it to be turned a shrine when I pass through this mortal coil.
The David Livingstone Memorial Centre is a great day out on its own, With extensive grounds, playpark café and museum, there’s loads to do. We decided to combine this outing with a visit to Bothwell Castle simply because there’s a very pleasant 2Km walk between these two tourist attractions via the David Livingstone Memorial Footbridge over the River Clyde.
Leave the car at the Bothwell Castle car park. Walk towards the left hand side of the castle. Just as you walk past the castle you will see a gate. This will take you to the footpath that skirts along the River Clyde. Walk along this (or keep to the higher path if it is particularly wet or muddy). After about 1.5 Km the David Livingstone Memorial Bridge will come into view. Simply continue to follow the path and it will lead you over the bridge. At the other side of the bridge you are right outside the David Livingstone Memorial Centre. Entry is free although there is a cost to visit the museum. Return by the same route.