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 – 8.6 Kilometres
Ascent – 50 metres
Walking conditions – Well-defined footpaths, tracks and a single track roads. No difficulties.
Time required – 2.5 to 4 hours
Nearest town – Edinburgh
Barnton and Crammond are two of Edinburgh’s leafiest suburbs. So it should come as no surprise that the scenery is marvellous. This is particularly the case along the River Almond and out into the Firth of Forth. Fortunately for us outdoor types there are no high walls nor electric gates to keep the peasants out, so we can wander freely in this land of captains of industry, well-known authors and other privileged types.
There are a number of places you can park near to the River Almond with varying distances to Crammond Island. We chose to park beside a play-park just off Brae Park because the kids wanted to play, there was good parking and it allowed for a good stroll along the banks of the River Almond. Either way, make your way to the River Almond (East bank) and head north along the well-defined footpath. Continue along past Crammond Boat Club and soon after that, you’ll arrive at Crammond Beach. You’ll see the Firth of Forth together with the causeway leading to Crammond Island, and in the summer months, an ice cream van as well.
The flat concrete causeway to Crammond Island is about 1.1 Kilometres long and you’ll be across it within 15 minutes. But before you continue please note that the causeway will be completely submerged at certain times of the day so make sure you know when the tide will be going in or out. There are notices at the causeway providing information on this. If all is well, walk straight across and onto Crammond Island. There are military fortifications immediately to your front dating back to World War 2. It’s also well worth taking the path to the other side of Crammond Island where there are more fortifications. This is a lovely short walk along a dirt footpath through undulating grassy terrain with brilliant views of the Firth of Forth. Please note that there tends to be a lot of broken glass at these fortifications. This is largely due to hedonistic teenagers partying overnight, so best to keep a hold of the children here.
Total distance – 2.5 kilometres
Ascent – 50 metres
Walking conditions – Tarmac/dirt footpaths. No difficulties. Buggy compatible.
Time required – Around 1 to 2 hours
Nearest Town – Glasgow (South Side)
I’ve often wondered why house prices in East Renfrewshire are sky high, so it gave me an excuse for a visit to Rouken Glen Park. I doubt that being close to Rouken Glen Park adds £150k to local house prices but it’s still well worth a visit. There’s a brand new pirate themed play area in the middle of the park, so what further incentive do you need? What about an ice cream shop next to a boating pond? Oh, it’s got that as well. By the way, the answer to my original question is school catchment areas.
Park in the large car park in front of the garden centre. The path to the left takes you to the wide open section of the park. You’ll immediately see the ‘pirate’ play area. By continuing along the path for a few hundred metres you’ll pass the skatepark on your left and then you’ll reach a small incline that leads to the boating pond. Walk around the pond clockwise, buy an ice cream then take a left. This will lead you to a spectacular waterfall down the White Cart. Cross the waterfall via a bridge, and then immediately take a right onto a delightful footpath which follows the stream and crosses a series of little bridges. This will lead you back to the wide open section of the park. Make your way back to the car park.
Total distance – 3.2 kilometres
Ascent – 60 metres
Walking conditions – Nearly all tarmac paths. No difficulties. Buggy compatible.
Time required – Around 1 to 2 hours
If you thought that the abundance of squirrels was the only reason to visit Queen’s Park you couldn’t be more wrong. Apart from being in the ‘trendy’ part of Glasgow’s South Side, Queen’s Park has a number of attractions including a glasshouse featuring the Zen Garden, ponds, tropical fish, exotic birds and an excellent reptile house. There’s even a small soft play area for the under 5s. And it’s all free! There is also much to keep you occupied on your way around the park.
Make your start/ finish point the Queen’s Park Glasshouse. From the Glasshouse exit right. After a few metres take another right leading onto a dirt footpath that takes you along the rear of the Glasshouse. After about 400 metres you will come out at the Queen’s Park Flagpole which is the highest and best viewpoint in Glasgow City. When you make your way down form there you’re pretty much just circum-navigating the park. Try to ensure that you visit the play-parks, nature pond and rose gardens. And don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for squirrels!
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.
Commonwealth Games at Cathkin Braes
Total distance – 4.2 kilometres
Ascent – 60 metres
Walking conditions – Easy walking on good footpaths. Fairly flat. No difficulties.
Time required – Around 1.5 to 2.5 hours
Nearest town – Glasgow/ East Kilbride
Cathkin Braes is undoubtedly the best location to view Glasgow from the south. It is now home to one of the UK’s best mountain biking trails and was the setting for the Commonwealth Games mountain bike competition. It is also proof that walkers and mountain-bikers can co-exist without conflict. The vast network of tracks and paths within Cathkin Braes ensures that even on a busy day we tend not to get in each other’s way. What’s ideal about Cathkin Braes for us is that it is within easy walking distance from our house and if the children are misbehaving we can speed-march them up the hill or the bad fox will catch them.
The start of this walk is from the large car park on Cathkin Road which is a few hundred metres up the hill from Carmunnock (Glasgow’s only village). Head west across the fairly flat, open ground. After about 800 metres this leads to a viewpoint at the edge of the tree line over-looking Carmunnock and you can see as far as Arran. Then change to a north easterly direction until you enter the forest. Take one of the many tracks going east. It’s probably best to stay near to the tree line that you entered from. After about a kilometre you should come into open ground. You’ll see a building with a huge mast. Beside it is a trig point (we love trig points). This is a fantastic place to stop for a picnic as you can see the whole of Glasgow, the Campsies, Ben Lomond and beyond. From there walk over to the stone circle feature which is clearly visible form the trig point. To get back to the car follow any of the paths through the trees which run parallel to Cathkin Road.
A visit to Carmunnock is to be recommended. We’ve had great days out there at the Carmunnock Highland Games and we’ve often stopped at Mitchell’s for dinner and to look at the fish tank.
Total distance – 3 kilometres
Ascent – 80 metres
Walking conditions – Entirely roads and pavements. Some stairways could prove awkward for buggies.
Time required – Approximately 1.5 hour’s walking time plus however long you wish spend at the numerous attractions
A trip to Edinburgh is always a good day out. We’ve had particularly good times in the city centre during the Edinburgh Festival and also the Christmas Market. On our most recent visit we did a 3 Km loop incorporating the fantastic viewpoints of Calton Hill and Edinburgh Castle with a number of attractions in between.
This particular route starts at the top of Calton Hill. Parking near here can be quite difficult so we tend to have these excursions on a Sunday when there’s less traffic and less parking restrictions. Calton Hill can be easily accessed from all directions and is an easy 40 metre ascent. The only issue might be that if you’re using a buggy you may have to carry it up flights of stairs. When you get on top you’ve got a 360 degree un-interrupted panoramic view and it’s magnificent. You can also marvel at Edinburgh’s finest architecture including the National Monument and the City Observatory. Exit Calton Hill and turn right on to Calton Road, then a left at New Street over the railway line. You then take a right at Canogate onto the Royal Mile which leads up to Edinburgh Castle. On returning from the castle go left which takes you down to the Mound and the home of the Scottish National Gallery. Finally make your way back via the Princes Street Gardens.
If you’re visiting in December my wife recommends you get a coffee and Bailey’s at the Christmas Market to warm your cockles.