Total distance – 4.8 kilometres
Ascent – 270 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 which are close to the path in places. It can be very dangerous for children to veer off the path.
Time required – Around 2 to 3 hours
Nearest Town – Lanark
New Lanark World Heritage Site is the location of a large cotton mill once owned by Robert Owen. He was an early 19th Century celebrated philanthropist (his exploitation of poor people wasn’t as extreme as his peers) who has been credited with many social reforms including being the founder of infant childcare in Scotland. New Lanark Mill is a fantastic centre and apart from all the interesting and spectacular historical stuff, there’s loads to do with children. Attractions include a playpark, café, an old fashioned sweet shop, roof garden and the Annie McLeod Experience. Unsurprisingly, there are also a number of fantastic walks. In fact , there are no less than 5 official walks form this site alone. On any of these walks the one thing that needs to be stressed is that there will be places where the footpaths are perilously close to high vertical drops into the Clyde. So please keep young children beside you at all times.
From the heritage centre walk in a southerly direction along the footpath which skirts along the edge of the Clyde. After about 800 metres you’ll pass the hydro-electric station and a few hundred metres later you’ll see the falls at the Cora Linn. Continue your walk along the Clyde which in places is very close to sheer cliffs and soon you’ll pass the peregrine watch-site. After another few hundred metres you’ll then reach the falls at the Bonnington Linn where you can cross the Clyde if you so wish. Return via the same route.
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 – 1.8 kilometres
Ascent – 140 metres
Walking conditions – Track well-defined footpaths.
Time required – Around 1 to 2hours
Nearest Town – Aberfeldy
We sat in the wonderful Kenmore village square pondering whether to travel on the road north or the road south of Loch Tay. We were swayed by the prospect of visiting the Crannog on the south road. However, when we got to the Crannog there appeared to be building works so we drove on for a couple of miles to Acharn village. By sheer chance I had parked next to the sign for the public footpath leading to the Falls of Acharn. Why not go for a walk, we thought? There was a packet of crisps and a Fruit Shoot in it for the children so they were up for it. And what a good impulse decision it turned out to be. As well as the chance to visit the spectacular Acharn Falls we were treated to a great view of Loch Tay and a visit to the Hermit’s Cave.
Park in the village of Acharn. It’s a tiny village so it won’t take you long to find the footpath sign on the main road pointing up the track to the Acharn Falls. From there, it’s just a steady ascent up the track for about 650 metres until you come to the Hermits Cave. Perched on the edge of a precipitous gorge this 18th Century folly is well worth a visit. It’s then a very short walk to the falls. If you’re crossing via the viewing platform please keep a hold of your children as, although a magnificent crossing point, a child could easily crawl through the side of the platform (You can avoid this by crossing slightly further up). To return to your car, make your way back down other side of the gorge, again, keeping a tight hold of small children as there are steep drops in places just a few feet from the footpath.
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 – 4.8 kilometres
Ascent – 40 metres
Walking conditions – Boots required. Some sections through the gorge require sure-footedness as they are a little awkward in places. Some precipitous drops close to footpath.
Time required – 2.5 hours to Steall Ruins and back
Nearest town – Fort William
The first time I passed through the Nevis Gorge I was with a friend on route to Meanach Bothy. It was late at night, very dark and icy underfoot. Soon after negotiating this gorge we decided to stop and pitch a tent for the night. Unfortunately, it was my brand new tent and I hadn’t read the instructions on how to set it up. Embarrassingly, my friend and I, both tired and weary took the easy option of wrapping the tent around ourselves convinced we’d still get a good night’s sleep. We woke up in the early hours of the next day covered in snow. If I ever buy another tent I will not make this mistake again!
Driving along the single track road through Glen Nevis you will eventually reach an abrupt end to this road. That is where the footpath through the gorge begins. You will immediately be aware of the danger warning signs at the point of entering this path. Take heed of them but don’t necessarily be put off visiting the gorge. But please note: If you have small children, keep a tight hold of them as there are a few treacherous drops only a couple feet from the footpath. The rewards are great. After working your way through around 400 metres of a narrow gorge walk the landscape opens up into a magnificent gallery of mountains, waterfalls and a winding river. We normally walk through this wonderful setting for about a 1.5 Km to the Steall ruins next to the bridge. However, the last time we came here, we could not resist the lure of the Burma bridge across the river Nevis, not to mention the spectacular view of the Steall Falls for our picnic location. I’m not one to brag but I successfully negotiated the Burma Bridge because I like to show off in front of the children. On this occasion there were no serious consequences.