Sometimes I just want to go be in the woods. And when I do, Chatelherault Country Park is my place. It’s located in South Lanarkshire, about a 20 minute drive from the hustle and bustle of the city of Glasgow. But walking through it’s big, beautiful, ancient forest makes me feel like I’ve gone back in time. We go here with our dogs quite a lot, especially during the week when it’s quiet. Some days you can walk for an hour hardly seeing another person. (Though not during a pandemic when the only thing anyone can do is be outside.)
The Green Bridge
There are loads of walks to choose from but the walk to the Green Bridge is one of my favourite routes. It’s one of the longer routes in the park; with kids it took us just over 4 hours to complete last time but without kids it would probably take 2-2.5 hours.
The route starts right up the back of the car park, leading along the highest trail in the park which skirts alongside the golf course, past some fields (sometimes with cows) and then down through the forest. There are some rustic stairs so some of the trail is not the best for buggies, it is doable if you can bump or have help getting down the steps.
The long Green Bridge and the Avon Water will come into view pretty quickly after the downward turn. We usually have a picnic at the bridge. You can sit under the bridge or down by the grassy river bank and there are some logs lying around that make a pretty good picnic spot.
At the other side of the bridge on your return journey you first have to climb up a hill but after that it’s pretty smooth sailing all the way back. There is a new viewpoint on the trail back, and when you come across the Cadzow Oaks you know you’re almost at the end of the route.
These old oaks are a good place for the kids to explore, or to sit and have a snack. One of the oldest trees was set on fire a little while back (that’s the one we used to climb with my dad when I was a kid) but there are still a few big trees standing, and one that was chopped down years ago lying on its side. Sometimes if we’re short on time we just head to the oaks themselves for a quick walk and a play.
On the way back to the car park you’ll pass the ruins of Cadzow Castle and over the impressively tall Dukes Bridge. The Dukes Bridge is pretty spectacular and the view from up there is a good one. The bridge takes you back to the other side of the Avon Water again. Turn right up the hill to pass Chatelherault House and back to the beginning of the loop.
The Other Routes
If you head down the hill and take a left before the path that leads to the Dukes Bridge you’ll be able to take one of the lower routes. The kids love going this way and having a splash in the water down here. As do the pups.
Instead of heading over the Dukes Bridge, head to the right down the hill and you’ll be on the path towards the Dukes Monument. The monument is actually incredibly impressive. I walked there recently for the first time since I was a kid and it is way bigger than I remember!
The White Bridge is currently closed. It’s a shell of a bridge and is locked with big gates and padlock, so you really can’t get across it. It is a shame because this is a great walk with young kids. There was chat about it being fixed but I assume that a pandemic put a hold on that.
I’ve been coming here since I was a young kid, and I remember loving the adventure playground at Chatelherault. If you also remember that death trap, don’t worry – it’s been updated since then! The new playpark is really good. It’s one of our favourites and its spread out over a decent area, so even when its busy it doesn’t feel too busy.
For young kids there’s a bunch of sandy areas, a few slides, roundabouts, bits to climb on, a wee train plus a host of spinny things. For older kids there are things to climb, tyre swing and a big spider web climbing frame.
Chatelherault House and Visitor Centre
The visitor centre has a wee gift shop and a Chatelherault has a nice cafe inside. There are a few toys in the cafe and there’s a badgers den to crawl through too. The visitor centre also has some great exhibits about the local area and wildlife, and about the story of Chatelherault.
I have only been in Chatelherault House for a friends wedding. From the outside though it is a beautiful building, set at the top of a hill overlooking the green fields out the front. We have wandered around the perfectly manicured gardens a few times too. Worth a wee visit.
- Chatelherault is not the most pram friendly place in the world. Some of the paths have stairs & the park is pretty hilly. But you can go quite a long way without hitting any stairs. Plus on a few of the walks you can get around them.
- The car park is pretty huge. I’ve never had a problem parking at Chatelherault.
- There’s no entry fee and parking is free too.
- Ferniegair train station is right outside the park. It’s about a 10 minute walk (with a toddler) into the park from there.
Chatelherault Country Park has a great playpark, nice cafe and wonderful walks through a big, ancient woodland. It has lots of wheel friendly paths and so many different routes for families to explore. It’s a great park and one of our favourites.