“ Strathaven Road / East Kilbride / Central Scotland / G75 0QZ / Tel: +44 (0)1355 236 644. „
We often visit Calderglen Country Park which is situated on Strathaven Road, East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire.
There is plenty to do for everyone within the park and it is especially good for large families as entrance is free, although from April this year they have started charging £1 per adult (children free) to enter the Zoo and Conservatory. I really do think however this is a small price to pay for what you get.
This area has lots of tropical plants and also has some fish, insects and reptiles all contained within the glass roofed building. There are information boards at each of the exhibits so you can easily find out information on each of the species. This area's quite small so doesn't take too long to walk around, which is quite good as I think some kids can start to lose interest after a while if mainly looking at plants.
There a good selection of small animals within the zoo, such as meerkats, wallabies, marmosets, guinea pigs and a variety of exotic birds. The zoo is well maintained with plenty of paths around the enclosures. It can easily be accessed by wheelchair users and prams and buggies. By far the most popular area of the zoo is the meerkat enclosure, we couldn't drag the kids away from watching the funny antics of these little creatures.
The play park caters for children of all ages and is fenced off from the rest of the park, so you feel safe knowing the kids can play here and not wander off.
The toddler area has a sand pit, a climbing frame and a small slide. For older children there is a huge, climbing frame build to resemble a tower with rope bridges, tunnels and various slides.
The glen has over 5km of woodland walks leading down to and along the banks of the River Calder. There is some really nice walks here and you pass some lovely waterfalls, only problem here is due to steep steps and quite rugged terrain it's not suitable for prams or buggies so you really have to carry small children and babies. The Northern area of the glen is a Geological Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The visitor centre provides an audio-visual display of the history of the park. There's also the Courtyard Café which provides a selection of hot and colds snack and also main meals with seating inside and outside of the café.
The park grounds are open throughout the year.
The Convervatory, Zoo, Vistor Centre and Café have the following opening hours:
Summer (April - Sept) 10.30am - 5pm
Winter (Oct - Mar) 11.00am - 4pm
A great park for spending a fun day out in the Lanarkshire area
have been going to Calderglen Country Park for about 3 years now with my family in tow. It is a beautiful park and so much more than I would have expected to find so conveniently local and close to a major town centre.
>>>Location: Strathaven Road, East Kilbride
>>>Opening Hours (These hours are for the actual visitors centre and associated facilities):
Summer: Weekdays from 10:30 to 17:00
Weekends from 11:30 to 18:30
Winter: All week from 11:30 to 16:30
For the avid hiker or just a family looking for a nice stroll though a beautiful setting, the nature trails on offer are perfect. There are more than 8 miles of nature trails through the woods and along the banks of the river Calder. The Trails are all very well signposted and have wooden handrails along more difficult areas as added support.
The trails are a great way of allowing kids a chance to explore the wilderness; however, I wouldn't allow them to get too far ahead of you as it could be easy to wander off the tracks.
*There is a Ranger Service which means rangers are there to answer your questions or just to get some information about the natural history of Calderglen or simply to ask for advice as to which trail would best suit you. Additionally, there are information plaques posted along the trails which can provide you with further information.
>Small Animal Zoo
What child doesn't enjoy getting up close to cute, cuddly and even the not so cute and cuddly animals? The majority of the animals are outside and a series of neat paved paths wraps its way around the compound taking you from one species to another. There is a large selection of domestic and exotic birds, owls, meerkats, rabbits, and monkeys to name a few. Information plaques with details of each species are posted in clear view on each of the enclosures.
I was impressed with the state of the grounds. Each of the cages of the animals had been constructed with care providing a spacious, clean and bright environment for the animals to feel at home in. Additionally, the paths had been carefully lines with shrubbery and plants to add to the beauty of the place. I was also pleased to note that the animals seemed well cared for and in good health.
The conservatory I perfectly situated within the same area as the ornamental gardens and zoo, meaning that should you be hit with an unexpected down pour (which has happened to us on several occasions) you have a safe haven to run too.
The conservatory has an array of exotic plants and creatures including snakes and other amphibious creatures, spiders and scorpions and there is information posted with details of the different species outlined.
Several of the park's events, like colouring competitions for the kids, Easter egg hunts, and visits with Santa at least begin here. Again, there are plenty of benches located throughout the area should you need a rest or if like me you are afraid of snakes and need to avoid them while sending your family off to enjoy.
It should be noted that due to tropical nature of the plants and animals, the conservatory is kept understandably warm and humid. On a busy day, this can become a bit uncomfortable after a long while.
My favourite part of Calderglen Country Park is the Ornamental Garden. The gardens are laid out near the small animal's zoo and conservatory and it consists of beautiful, traditionally laid out flower beds with chunky wooden benches dotted around for you to sit and admire the view. It is accessed through an arched doorway cut out of the hedge wall that borders the area and in the summer, the smell is breath-taking.
>Outdoor Play Area
There is a terrific play structure set up for the kids to wear themselves out on. It is quite a modern structure and obviously up to all the recent health and safety standards. Besides the huge twisting shutes and climbing frames, there are scramble nets, tire swings and sandpit. Impressively, the play area is accessible to those with disabilities as well.
The soft woodchip base allows parents to watch from a relative distance stretched out on the huge lawn that encircles the structure.
>The Visitor Centre
The visitor centre includes an audio visual room and history room which outline the history of the grounds in more detail, a café and a small shop.
The shop, it should be pointed out, is not really big enough to hold more than one and a half people at the same time. Taking my son in with me while a school bus worth of kids pushed their pre-teen selves through, was a plan quickly aborted. The merchandise was fairly standard for these sorts of places although I have to compliment their selection of good quality wooden toys.
THe Courtyard Cafe has seating both inside (approx 30 people) and outside. The fayre is fairly basic with (only reasonably fresh) sandwiches, soups, larger hot meals and a kids menu available. It isn't bad but it isn't great and on a nice day with the beautiful lawn stretched out before you I would suggest you bring a picnic instead.
Having said that, the park often has special events and during the summer they host barbecue's and have chip and ice cream vans available.
Throughout the year there are a variety of events held at the country park including the Country Fair, Easter Egg Hunts and even the annual Classic Auto Rally. These are all family events and having attended last years' country fair I can testify to it being a great day. There were horse rides, face painting, a bouncy castle and other games o keep the kids happy. Obviously, these all cost money however, as I remember everything was £1 or less.
There are facilities available for corporate hospitality available. For further details call: 01355 235 544.
There is an abundance of car parking with overflow parking that goes on for miles. All parking is free.
>Toilets and baby changing facilities
Toilets and baby changing facilities are located in the Conservatory as well as in the Courtyard Café. They are basic but clean and perfectly suitable with disability access.
There is very little these days that can be had for free but Calderglen offers a great day out for the family and is accessible to everyone.
The grounds are beautifully maintained and a great deal of care has obviously been taken to ensure this is a great experience for the whole family. I am thrilled to have something practically on my doorstep that can give my children the opportunity to experience different habitats and wildlife so freely. By encouraging this we are on the road to raising kids who have a health respect and admiration for the environment.
For those of you relatively local, keep an eye on your local press for details of upcoming events as they really aren't to be missed and give the perfect excuse to explore this wonderful park