“ Kelburn Castle, Fairlie, Ayrshire Scotland, KA29 0BE, Tel: (01475) 568 685 „
Kelburn country park is one of our favourite places to visit with the children we have been a few times now and don't tire of the place in the slightest.
On our first visit we thought the entrance fee of £7.50 per adult and £5.00 per child was pretty steep but on seeing what you get for the money it is probably reasonably priced. During the autumn / winter season though admission is half price, and to be honest although there are not as many areas open, the park is probably as it most beautiful especially if it has been snowing. There's wonderful views across the Firth of Clyde to the Isle of Arran.
The park is situated appox 2 miles South of Largs just off the A78 coast road. There's a train station in Largs and it's on the main bus route to Ayr with a bus stop directly outside of the park. We have taken the car on all occasions and never had any problems find a parking space.
There's a 13th Century Castle in the middle of the park which is reportedly the oldest castle in Scotland to be inhabited by the same family. The castle is open to the public during peak season (July and August) and they provide free guided tours, we haven't actually had a tour of the castle yet as the kids are always desperate to get to the Secret Forest and the Adventure Play Area, although I'm sure it's something we will do on future visits.
Our first point of call is usually the Secret Forest, a vast area of raised walkways and paths which meander through the forest (known as the Wild Wood). The area is magnificent for children as there is always something unexpected around the next corner, from a Chinese Garden to a Gingerbread House and a Castle that appears to have no entrance. There's also a maze which is a big hit with our kids as they manically run around trying to get to the middle first. Each year they add new features the Secret Forest which is great as each visit is always going to be different.
The Adventure Course is an excellent area for the children to burn off their energy. It's a wooden area complete with climbing frames, rope swings and ladders, it also has a high-wire crossing which is approx 15ft off the ground. It's not suitable for young children and toddlers but older kids will think it's great.
For the younger children there's an indoor play area which only costs £1.50 per child, this is quite good if the weather's not too good which is usually the case in the West of Scotland!
We always make sure we have a trip down to the Waterfall Pool area which has spectacular waterfalls and a great spot for a few family photos.
One of the Parks claims to fame is that it is home to Scotland's tallest tree, the Monterey Pine, at over 100 feet tall it's easily distinguished from the rest of the trees as it looks about twice the size!
There's a café on site which is reasonable priced, but we love to take a picnic with us when we visit here as there are plenty of grassy areas and picnic benches.
Overall I think this park is a fantastic day out for both adults and children and we'll certainly be visiting again as there a always plenty of new and exciting things to do and see.
Two weeks ago my husband and I took our grandchildren for a day out to Kelburn Country Centre in Fairlie, Scotland.
Kelburn Country Centre is situated approximately 35 miles from Glasgow and can be found on the main route between Largs and Ayr on the west coast of Scotland. The nearest train station is about two miles. Buses run frequently from the train station and stop directly outside the park gates. We were driving and the parking inside the park was not a problem.
The entire Centre is built around the castle.
Kelburn Castle is a stunning building and was built in the thirteenth century. At that time it was occupied by David Boyle, who was the first Earl of Glasgow, and his family. The castle has always been lived in by the descendants of the Boyle family. Today the tenth Earl of Glasgow lives there with his wife and family.
It was in 1977 that this family converted some of the nearby buildings and opened them to the public. They also opened up the entire area surrounding the castle.
We were very pleasantly surprised when we realised just how much there was to see and do.
The first thing we did was to take a walk round the walled gardens, which were stunning, and then we looked at the nearby trees. Most of the trees had a plaque beside them giving some details about each tree.
The largest tree in these gardens is a 'Weeping Larch'. The plaque told us that it had a half acre spread. The tree branched out in all directions and also trailed on the ground. I found it quite hard to believe that it was all the one tree.
The tallest and oldest tree in Scotland, which is a 'Monterey Pine', stood over 100 feet tall. It seemed to go up forever.
There are also two beautiful 'Yew Trees' which have been estimated at one thousand years old. I found all this quite breathtaking.
As we walked round the grounds we saw the Boyle family crest, several times. These are double headed eagles carved in stone. There is also a Sundial which was built in 1707 and a monument in memory of the third earl of Glasgow.
The castle is opened for free guided tours but this only happens in July and August. I was a bit disappointed about this.
We then had our lunch in the licensed cafe. The prices were reasonable and there was a good selection of hot and cold food.There was also a good choice for the children.
We then went to the 'Secret Forest'. This is a paradise for adults and children alike. The scenery is beautiful with views across the Firth of clyde and to the hills away in the distance. There are lots of walkways and paths with small bridges across streams,and raised wooden walkways.
Inside the forest there is a gingerbread house, which the children can go inside. There is a pool complete with inflatable crocodiles and a chinese garden with a twenty five foot pagoda.
The giant's castle was a great hit with the kids. Everything inside is huge. We were all able to go inside and climb to the top. There were barriers and handrails throughout making it safe for even small children. The views from the top were incredible. It was a lovely clear day and we could see for miles. This takes you to the woodcutter's house and if you walk through the house and out the back door you come to the secret grotto.
We had to walk downhill for about five minutes and we then came to the foot of the glen. It is full of small trees, shrubs, ferns and wild flowers. As we walked along, we came to a gorge and an outstanding waterfall. We took lots of photographs here as it was beautiful.
After this we stopped at a picnic bench and had some ice cream.
Then it was on to pet's corner where the kids loved the rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, sheep and goats.
As we walked along from here we came back towards the cafe. Next to the cafe is a pottery workshop where you can buy small pieces of pottery e.g. mugs, plaques and cars. You can then let the kids sit at one of the tables and paint the pottery you have bought. Each piece costs around £4 and this included the paints.
One thing we did not tackle was the maze. I felt the kids were getting a bit tired for this. We did speak to some people who had been in the maze and they said they had enjoyed it.
Twice a day the park rangers bring out the birds of prey and they
put on a display. These times apparantly change regularly so it is best to check the times on arrival. It is well worth seeing.
The opening times for Kelburn Country Park:
Easter till the end of October
10a.m. - 6p.m.
Children £5.00 (5 to 16)
Family ticket £25.00 (2 adults and up to four children)
There are plenty of rangers around the entire centre to give you any information you need.
There are also plenty of clean toilets around the centre.
I do not think Kelburn is suitable for wheelchairs users due to the ruggedness of the paths around the centre. There are also a few steep inclines.
We had a wonderful day and will go back again. The one thing I would say is - Make sure you go on a dry day as I think it could get a bit muddy in the rain.
The family home of the Earls of Glasgow, Kelburn has long been an inspiration for adults and a paradise for children. The castle, dating back to the 13th century, still lived in by the present Earl and family, is open to the public in July and August and provides an impressive background to exotic gardens, famous trees and many features of historical interest. The Kelburn Glen with its waterfalls and deep gorges is regarded as one of Scotland's most beautiful woodlands and leads to spectacular views over the islands of the Firth of Clyde. The Country Centre includes: - Pony Trekking & Riding School - Falconry - Indoor Playbarn - Licensed Cafe - Ranger Service - Gift Shop