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Strathclyde Country Park (Lanarkshire, Scotland)

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Country park in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

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      28.09.2011 11:36
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      a great way to spend a few hours locally

      Strathclyde Country Park is located between Motherwell and Hamilton in Lanarkshire, Scotland. It is accessible from Bellshill, Hamilton and Motherwell and is just off the M74 motorway at junctions 5 and 6.

      The park is set within 400 hectares of countryside which surround Strathclyde Loch. The Loch used to be a village many years ago (as far as I know!). The park is surrounded by woodland and offers many attractions which I will briefly discuss. Parking is free and located at various points around the park. No buses service inside the park but do stop out on Hamilton Road at the Motherwell entrance.

      ~Attractions and Things To Do~

      There is plenty to entertain those of all ages in Strathclyde Country Park.

      ~Water sports Centre~

      Located at the Hamilton side of the park, the water sports centre features a state of art gym. They offer a wide range of water sports which are carried out by trained professionals. This includes rowing, speed boat rides, canoeing and many more. They provide the necessary safety equipment. They also hire out bikes. Prices are reasonable and calculated by the hour in most cases. You can hire a bike for a few pounds but must provide a deposit. The sports centre features a cafe with snacks at low prices and also toilets and vending machines.

      ~Accommodation & Catering~

      As well as offering a camping site near M&Ds (from £11.20 per night), there are 2 on site hotels. The Alona is located next door to M&Ds and offers 51 luxurious bedrooms, conference and fine dining facilities. Along near the motorway from Bellshill, there is a Holiday Inn Hotel (3star) with over 100 bedrooms. A Toby Carvery is located next door offering a varied menu and of course a carvery and bar. Other catering within the park (excluding the hotels, water sports centre and M&Ds includes a burger type snack van at one of the parks and a rather expensive ice cream van at another.

      ~M&Ds~

      M&Ds is Scotland's largest theme park and is located a 10minute walk from the Holiday Inn. This park features a huge indoor centre with bowling, a play area, amusements, a food court (Burger King, Noodles etc), a cafe, a family restaurant and bingo. Outside, the amusements extend to various rollercoasters and rides for all ages. There are traditional rides such as dodgems and water slides, trampolines and swings and also go karts. There is a fish and chip shop outside and various stalls offering donuts, drinks, ice cream and sweets. There is also a mini golf and charges do apply as standard. Wrist bands can be purchased and vary in price from £11.00. You can also buy individual tokens.

      M&Ds is also home to Amazonia which is an indoor, tropical rainforest featuring various tropical animals and experiences. Prices are from £4.20. Special deals are regular allowing you to purchase family tickets or various attraction tickets at a reduced cost. Please see www.scotlandsthemepark.com for the latest deals.

      ~Play Parks and Picnics~

      There are 3 children's play parks dotted around the park. One is located at the Motherwell entrance and is minimal with a long chute and small climbing frame. There are a few picnic benches and a grassy area at this end. Further around the park, you will find a larger area with a small, sandy beach and picnic areas. This area features 2 climbing frames with chutes and poles. A few minutes walk from M&Ds brings you to the largest of the play parks which offers a bit more variety and unusual swings, tyres and zip lines. There is a small area for younger children and also lots to do for older children.

      Picnic and normal benches are dotted around the full park as are bins and doggy bins for your convenience.

      ~Walking and Cycling~

      The pathway around the park is set near the Loch most of the way around and is completely surfaced almost all the way. There is a cycle path present around one half of the park. The path carries on around the whole park and is approximately 3.75miles.

      ~Special Events~

      Strathclyde Country Park holds regular sporting events which are held on the Loch. On Bonfire Night every year, a huge fireworks display is held where fireworks and a bonfire are lit in the middle of the loch. A few rides, food carts and music is played on the night and it does get really busy.

      ~My Thoughts~

      Having lived in Motherwell all my life, I have been a frequent visitor to Strathclyde Country Park. It used to be serviced by a bus which was handy but the lack of transport limits our use of the park now. Whenever we visit with the intention of using the parks or walking, we get a bus to the entrance and head in from there. If we are going further in to M&Ds, we catch a lift or go by taxi which is quite expensive due to the location!

      When the boys were in the buggies, we would think nothing of walking around the full park and have done so several times. The park is quite nice with the trees providing a decent shade as you walk around though the midges coming off the water are a nightmare! The water is rather icky looking but I won't be swimming in it so that doesn't bother me. I have spotted some children in it around the "beach" area yuck! The water is home to some gorgeous ducks and rather scary geese and swans which think nothing of coming up on to the grass to pester you.

      We once walked around when dark and trust me, I won't be doing that again as I was scared stiff! We like to go walks on nice, fairly sunny days but the park does get really busy. The park is reasonably clean with the odd bit of rubbish here and there. It does seem to attract runners, dog walkers and those out with buggies trying to shift the baby weight! The walk is satisfying and as long as I have my trainers on and something to drink, I can walk around with a few stops for a rest! The paths are even and although flat most of the way around, do raise and dip in the heart of the forest.

      As well as the ducks and swans and of course those pesky midges, we have spotted some frogs in a swamp type pool further around the park but can't say we have seen much other wildlife. We often take a picnic down and park our bums at the first play park though won't be doing this again as they have removed the toddler swings. They really do need to do that park up! We usually walk around to the second park and if Ryan is tired, that is as far as we go on a regular day. The other park is really good and keeps the kids entertained though the "beach" is rather manky and it smells sort of weird which is off putting! The bigger park is quite modern but is more for older children in my opinion. Ice creams bought at the van are extortionate at nearly £2.00 a time.

      Walking around the park offers great exercise and with a few stops, we usually manage to get around it in an hour and a half or so which isn't too bad really. It is pretty open except for the tree lined area and the walk is refreshing. Cycling seems popular though I do not own a bike nor have I rented one. The pathways are wide enough to accommodate buggies, wheelchairs and bikes with ease and providing you are with a friend, are perfectly safe. I wouldn't personally walk around the pathways alone though.

      ~Water Fun!~

      We have used the water sports centre several times over the years and it is clean and well staffed. The cafe is nice and the toilets are acceptably clean. The water sports are varied and price lists are available. We once went out in the pedals boats which were fun but we went too far and got stuck! Luckily the rescue guys came out and helped us. The speed boat was exhilarating and fun for all the family in my opinion. I quite enjoy watching the boating races and recently witnessed yachts and canoe races.

      ~Money Money Money~

      M&Ds is no Drayton Manor or Alton Towers but is still ideal to have locally. The prices are quite expensive unless you are taking part in special offers though the ride choice is decent. I don't bother with the rollercoasters now but tend to stick to the smaller rides which I can take my son on. We buy tokens so it is rather pricey. The golf is affordable and a good way to pass a while with its pirate theme! We have visited Amazonia once and found it to be interesting though not somewhere we would regularly visit.

      The amusements are good and open all year around though the bingo isn't open all the often now and has shot up in price. The play area is clean throughout but the toilets leave a lot to be desired. If we are eating in the park, we usually go to the family bar which has a wide range of traditional snacks and meals on offer. I would recommend the jacket potato and burgers though the roast beef Sunday meal isn't up to much. The food is cheap and on par with Wetherspoons and the likes. The sweet shop offers some delicious fudge treats!

      The bowling is fun and not too expensive. The staff around the park are young usually and look like they don't want to be there. The high season is April to October and providing that you can drive or get to the park daily, there is plenty of recruitment opportunities available. The park is an ideal way to spend some time though everything adds up and it can cost a fortune! If the weather is poor, the Carousel inside is so magical and Ryan loves it and it's only a £1 per shot.

      ~Conclusion~

      Being so local to Strathclyde Country Park, I am happy to recommend it. I don't feel it is somewhere you would come a long way to visit but to walk around and visit M&Ds it is worth a recommendation. I haven't stayed in the hotels though have been to the Alona for a conference and it is beautiful inside and our. The Toby Carvery offers good, hearty food as well. We love going down on Bonfire Night as the atmosphere is amazing though far too busy for toddlers.

      If I didn't have any money, we could happily spend a few hours here walking around, having a picnic and playing in the parks and still enjoy ourselves. If I had limited money, we could try out the water sports. If I had lots of money, we could treat ourselves to dinner at M&Ds or Toby Carvery and experience the amusements. There is something for everyone in my opinion so I can thoroughly recommend the park. The only let down really is the transport options! Bring back the bus and the train that go around the park please!

      Thanks for reading :)

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