Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park
Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park is the largest regional park in Scotland, home to Castle Semple, Lunderston Bay, Haylie Brae and charming hill and woodland walks.
Castle Semple Visitor Centre & Country Park is located on the shores of Castle Semple Loch. The estate contains some lovely woodland at Parkhill Wood, fish ponds and the Collegiate Church, which is a 15th century structure. The visitor centre is open all year round and has a tearoom and gift shop. There are also seasonal activities available including boating, mountain biking, cycle hire, kayaking, sailing, archery and navigation sessions. This is an excellent day out not just for children, but also for adults looking for leisure or relaxation time in a fantastic country environment, easily accessible from Glasgow and the Central Belt.
If you prefer to get into some wilder hill country, then head to Muirshiel. This area has great signposted footpaths and trails through the woods and over the hills and moors. It’s a great day out. Take in the fresh air and be rewarded with fantastic views across the Clyde and over Argyll. There is a visitor centre at Muirshiel where, during the breeding season, you can watch Hen Harriers by CCTV. You would never believe that such wilderness is on the doorstep of Port Glasgow – and yet it’s true – you could anywhere in more rural parts of Scotland, and sometimes they are busier than here!
Lunderston Bay is an award-winning beach on the shores of the River Clyde. It is also known as Glasgow’s closest sandy beach. As well as beautiful coastal walks to Inverkip, Cloch Point and Gourock, there are also picnic areas, toilet facilities and an adventure playground. Cardwell Garden Centre is also conveniently located closely. Lunderston Bay is great for families looking for an evening or weekend out in the sun, with the Clyde air deep in their lungs. Lovely!
Haylie Brae is another great place for days out in the hills. There are excellent routes to Castle Hill Fort, Gogo Glen, Douglas Park and Irish Law. If you’re going hillwalking, do make sure you bring all the necessary equipment, including sturdy boots, a waterproof jacket, a map and compass (and proficiency in their use), and always leave your route and expected return time with a friend or family member. Remember to let them know when you’re back! Too many people have forgotten to do this, and the emergency services have been sent out into the hills looking for someone who is relaxing at home… Also, this might be a wilderness area, but wild camping is not allowed, and you should not light fires. Take all your litter home, take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints, and follow the Country Code.
Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park has three main visitor centres: Castle Semple, Muirshiel, and Greenock Cut Centre. There are community woodlands at Locherwood and Outerwards, and there is also a campsite at Barnbrock. The Park is definitely one of Inverclyde’s best kept secrets!