Glasgows nearest big countryside attraction for a healthy family fun day out or outdoor activities in Scotlands largest Regional Park.
On the scenic shores of Castle Semple Loch beside cycle route 7 from Glasgow and Irvine and only 1 mile from Lochwinnoch Railway Station. It is one of three Visitor Centres in the Regional Park, they all have FREE parking and entry, sign posted woodland walks and nature trails. Easy wildlife watching, indoor and outdoor attractions, refreshements, gift shops and a Ranger Service.
Explore the Semple Trail from Lochwinoch railway station, along the lochshore and into Parkhill Woods - the designed landscape and ancestoral homelands of the Clan Semple. A visits to the woods allows one to escape the hussle and bussle of the Visitor Centre and outdoor activity courses where wildlife is plentiful all year round. In spring the Woods are bathed in a haze of bluebells, closely followed with the emerging purple flowers of rhododendron and then the wonderful colours of autumn trees and falling leaves.
At the Visitor Centre, with cafe overlooking the loch has an exhibition about the families and owners of the Castle Semple Estate. Ask the Castle Semple Countryside Rangers about the Parkhill Challenge - a treasure-hunt style activity suitable for all the family. Boat and bike hire is availble at weekends and on public and local school hoidays.
The Centre is recognised by the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority to deliver water sports such as RYA sailing and power boating, BCU kayaking and canoeing. Other courses and group taster sessions include trail biking, archery, navigation and raft building.
Muirshiel Visitor Centre, only 4 miles from Lochwinnoch is in the heart of the Regional Park with easy access to great walking country. The wonderful scenery includes the heather hills of Misty Law and Hill of Stake (522m) or moorland views and walks to the now disused Barytes mine. The child friendly walk to the volcanic plug of Windy Hill (316m) has great views over the Clyde and towards Glasgow. Or stay in the country park and follow the 2km (1 hour) country, 1km (20 min) habitat or 500m (20 min) waterfall nature trails.
The heather moors are home to one of Britains rarest Birds of Prey, the Hen Harrier, these amazing birds can usually be seen live on CCTV throughout the season (May - Aug approx.) Recorded highlights, exhibition panels and childrens activities are available throughout the year. Contact 01505 842803 for details.
The Greenock Cut Visitor Centre, at Cornalees Bridge provides wonderful walks, wildlife watching opportunties, scenic views and picnic sites at the start of the Greenock Cut - designated ancient monument that is 5.5 mile long aqueduct. Allow half a day for a great reasonably level circular-walk with panoramic views of the Clyde. A shorter walk includes the 2.5 km (1 hour) Shielhill Glen nature trail.
The Centre is open all year with events, exhibitions, a FREE Kids Wildlife Corner with environmental education activities such as a badger set, word searches, animals and colouring in. Contact 01475 521129 for details.