Walk: Dalzell Estate - the Hamilton legacy

Dalzell Estate and Baron's Haugh form a peaceful, leafy barrier between Motherwell and the River Clyde. This former hunting ground was sold to the Hamilton family in 1647, who landscaped the grounds and dramatically extended Dalzell House into the mansion you can see today. Much of the attractive estate is woodland interspersed with steep-sided burns; follies, monuments and the family mausoleum and graveyard indicate the family's former wealth. Meanwhile, extensive wetland immediately to the west is an RSPB site known as Baron's Haugh: a popular overwintering and nesting habitat for ducks, geese and swans, kingfishers and lapwings, to name a few. Exploring both parts is a delightful way to spend a few hours, with our circuit taking in the main points of interest.

Name: Walk: Dalzell Estate - the Hamilton legacy ★★☆☆☆
Length: 6 km / 4 miles
Ascent: 70 metres
Points of interest: RSPB Baron's Haugh & hides; River Clyde; Dalzell Estate (various sights - see route info)

Victoria Park

Glasgow is famous for the quality and quantity of its public parks. Which is the most interesting? Well, that award might go to Victoria Park. Tucked away in one of the less touristy parts of the West End, this 50-acre green space contains immaculate formal gardens, a large boating pond, a surprisingly dramatic rock garden and even a collection of 325-million year-old, fossilised tree stumps. Take a bag of bird feed for the ducks...

Name: Victoria Park★★★☆☆
Location: Victoria Park Drive North, 4 miles west of George Square, Glasgow, G.R.: NS 541672 ///intro.pretty.focal
Open: Always
Cost: Free
Public transport: Train (Jordanhill), 900 metres; bus, 300 metres

>> see separate post for Fossil Grove (not yet available)

Sawney Bean's Cave

It's a name guaranteed to send a shiver down many a spine (especially if you've visited The Edinburgh Dungeon). Folklore tells that Sawney Bean was the head of a cannibalistic Scottish clan who inhabited a deep sea cave on the South Ayrshire coast. Each night Sawney, his equally savage spouse and two generations of their offspring would ambush unwary travellers on the nearby highway: their dismembered bodies forming the staple of a murderous diet. We can't vouch for whether any of the tale is true, but what's certain is that you can still travel along the highway (today the A77) where the ambushes may have happened, then follow in the clan's footsteps down to the cave where victims were devoured. The cave is a couple of hundred metres long, pitch black at the back (torches required!), and several degrees colder than outside - even on the warmest and sunniest of evenings. You might even have company, but from nesting pigeons rather than Sawney's descendants. Gr…

Walk: Knockdolian - Ailsa's twin

The dome of Knockdolian rises like a collapsing steamed pudding above the gentle braes of South Ayrshire. It's the less celebrated, less dramatic twin of Ailsa Craig (the volcanic plug pointing the way to Ireland in the sea to the north-west), but let that take nothing away from the enjoyable ascent. Short grass (particularly early in the year) and a road around the foot make the ascent of this 265-metre hill swift and fairly straightforward, with superb views up the River Stinchar, and of course out to Paddy's Milestone herself. Just watch out for wandering pheasants on the drive there... they haven't consulted the Green Cross Code.

Name: Walk: Knockdolian - Ailsa's twin ★★★☆☆
Length: 3 km / 2 miles
Ascent: 230 metres
Main summits: Knockdolian (265 metres, sub-2000')
Start / finish: Space for (only) a couple of cars at track junction on B7044 2 miles west of Colmonell, G.R.: NX 123851 ///pull.major.broth 

Route: Start - track junction at G.R.: NX 123849 ///manual.stuff…