Glasgow's nearest fully accessible countryside attraction for a healthy family fun day out for lochside or woodland walks or outdoor activities in Scotland's 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, refreshments, gift shops and a Ranger Service.
From Castle Semple Visitor Centre you can explore the Semple Trail to or from Lochwinoch railway station, or go along the lochshore and into Parkhill Woods - the designed landscape and ancestoral homelands of the Clan Semple. A visit to Parkhill 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 or pick up a booklet about the Heritage of the Semple Trail or the free 'Kids Passport' guide - full of lots of things to find and do on the Semple Trail. Bike hire is available during the summer months at weekends and on public and local school holidays - contact the operator in advance to organise and avoid disappointment.
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. Full details, course availabilty and bookings can be found on the Regional Park website. Castle Semple is the only RYA Sailability Centre of Excellence in Scotland, get in contact ASAP to discuss your accessibility outdoor activity requirements or to organise a group taster sessions in water sports, cycling, navigation and raft building for example.
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, enjoy wonderful woodlands by following the 2km (1 hour) country, 1km (20 min) habitat or 500m (20 min) waterfall nature trails.
The heather moors are home to one of Britain's rarest Birds of Prey, the Hen Harrier, recorded highlights and children's activities are available on request. 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, environmental education activities, word searches, animals and colouring in. Contact 01475 521458 for details.