Total distance – 3.6 Kilometres
Ascent – 40 metres
Walking conditions – Well-defined footpaths, tracks and tarmac roads. Buggy compatible. No difficulties.
Time required – 1 to 2 hours
Nearest town – Glasgow
Pollok Country Park is the home to the Burrell Collection. So you might think that as the Burrell Collection is closed to the public until 2020, that there’s no point visiting Pollok Country Park. Well think again! It’s a great park with numerous paths and tracks, a great play-park, not to mention Pollok House. It’s particularly good if you have very small children with the buggy being the preferred mode of transport. All marked walking routes are buggy compatible and there are three of them. These walks are defined as the yellow route (0.7 miles), the blue route (1.4 miles) and the red route (1.9 miles). As there are a series of tarmac paths and dirt footpaths it’s really entirely up to you to wander about where you like.
On our particular recent day out we parked in the car park to the rear of Pollok House. We then walked along the tarmac road in a north-westerly direction then pretty much went the way of the red path. We stopped and had our sandwiches in the play-park across from the building that hosts the Burrell Collection. I demonstrated how to use a trampoline to best effect, then we made our way back to the car-park at Pollok House.
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 – 2.9 kilometres
Ascent – 60 metres
Walking conditions – Footpaths and tracks. Can be a little muddy after heavy rainfall. Buggy compatible on dry days. No difficulties.
Time required – Around 1 to 2 hours
Nearest Town – Milngavie
Milngavie is probably best known for being the town that always has its name mis-pronounced. But it’s also famous for being the start of the West Highland Way which is far more exciting. And Mugdock Country Park is directly across the road from the start of the West Highland Way. It’s an expansive park with countless walking routes in addition to playparks, a castle, garden centre, and second world war installations to name but a few things. A great day out!
For one of our favourite routes, park at the garden centre and make your way south past the courtyard and on to the gravel track. This southerly track quickly veers to the right and you will soon see a large ruin. The track then curves around to the left until you start to walk in an easterly direction. After about 300 metres keep your eyes out for the footpath leading off to the right (you’ll see the castle on the right so you can’t really go too far wrong). This path takes you out over marshy ground. Not to worry though, because you’ll be walking on wooden decking. And after no more than a couple of hundred metres you’re in Mugdock Castle.
To return, follow the footpath back to the track but this time turn right for a couple of hundred metres. Then take the footpath going left. This takes you on a nice loop back to the car park via the Walled Gardens. Visit the café and visitor centre, then let the kids run about the playplay. This should ensure that they’re suitably exhausted and you can guarantee yourself a good night’s sleep.
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.
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.