From woodland walks to adventure playgrounds, Scotland’s country parks offer a treasure trove of possibilities
With a family ticket to the average theme park costing close to £100, it’s worth remembering that a day out at one of Scotland’s country parks can offer just as much fun – for no money at all. None of the parks listed here charges for admission or parking. So whether it’s a brisk woodland walk with the dog, a leisurely stroll through a walled garden or fun on the adventure playground you’re after, country parks can adapt to suit all generational needs.
Set in the Bathgate Hills, near Linlithgow, Beecraigs (www.beecraigs.com) has an adventure playground that suits toddlers to teenagers and orienteering for all abilities at £1.10 a map. One of three country parks in West Lothian, Vogrie near Gorebridge (01875 821990) has a softplay for under 5s (£2) in the Cedar Tree Café, adventure playground, miniature railway (Sunday afternoons), woodland walks, meadows and streams. Look out for the giant bike and chair for great photo opportunities.
For country parks, the west coast has an embarrassment of riches, with Glasgow’s Pollok (0141 276 0924) containing the Burrell Collection, Food and Wood Trails, Highland Cattle, play park and annual Family Day each August. Calderglen in East Kilbride (01355 236644) has a zoo filled with cute meercats, wallabies and rabbits, adventure playground, toddler play area, river walks, nature trails, visitor centre and café. Mugdock near Milngavie (0141 956 6100) has 750 acres of countryside, Victorian garden, crafts gallery and fantastic discovery packs for £3, including the Scavenger Hunt and History Experience. Chatelherault near Hamilton (01698 426213) is a 5 star visitor attraction with ten miles of trails, Strathclyde in Motherwell (01698 402060) offers pedalos, bumper boats, boat trips and land train, with mountain bikes hired by the hour. Drumpellier in Coatbridge (01236 422257) has two lochs, visitor centre, play area, peace garden, road train and rowing boat hire. Clyde Muirshiel in Renfrewshire (www.clydemuirshiel.co.uk) has nine visitor centres, lochs, waterfalls, miles of cycle paths, rockpools, farm, play area and more. While Palacerigg near Cumbernauld (01236 720047) offers woodcraft demonstrations, treetop walkway, orienteering, play area and rare breeds collection.