Showing posts from 2017

Cadzow Castle

Cadzow Castle is a former "backup" castle for the Hamilton family, located above the gorge of the Avon Water on the opposite bank to Chatelherault visitor centre. Despite being "cared for" by Historic Environment Scotland, hardly any of the brickwork currently protrudes above the advancing layers of vegetation. At least the scaffolding's probably ensuring the 16th century ruin doesn't deteriorate further. It's probably not worth going to see in its own right, but forms part of a pleasant walk along the top of the gorge.

Name: Cadzow Castle★☆☆☆☆
Location: Just across the Avon Water from Chatelherault main car park, G.R.: NS 735538 / visits risky monkey
Open: Always (exterior only)
Cost: Free
Anything else? The castle is a 10-min walk from the main car park, across the Duke's Bridge on a wide earth path, steep in places.


It's only a mile from Hamilton town centre and not much further from the edge of Glasgow. But Chatelherault Country Park manages to pack an elegant hunting lodge, gardens, ruined castle and a deep, wooded gorge which the Avon Water runs through into a relatively small area. This page is mostly about the elegant former hunting lodge and summer house providing a focus for the park, built in 1732 for the Dukes of Hamilton. The east portion now forms a visitor centre providing an introduction to the park, while the West Lodge has been restored to its original appearance. Subsidence due to local sand quarrying has led to the latter part sitting at a noticeable tilt: noticeable enough that you could leave the building feeling slightly dizzy. Fresh air might be needed afterwards - see below for a link to a suggested walking route along the top of the gorge.

Name: Chatelherault★★☆☆☆
Location: Chatelherault Country Park, off A72 a mile south-east of Hamilton, G.R.: NS 737540 ///rush.slows.e…

Loch Lomond Shores

Loch Lomond Shores is probably the busiest part of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, barely 10 miles from the outskirts of Glasgow. A row of tourist-orientated shops curve gracefully around the southern tip of Loch Lomond, dominated by Drumkinnon Tower which houses a shiny new aquarium. For obvious reasons this is a good rainy-day option, although in clear weather there are also spectacular views north across the water towards mountainous country, and a recently built bird of prey centre.

Name: Loch Lomond Shores★★☆☆☆
Location: North side of Balloch, G.R.: NS 384822 ///
Open (2017): Daily
Cost: Free

>> see separate post for Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre★★★☆☆

Name: SEA LIFE Loch Lomond★★★★☆
Description: Large, newish aquarium including underwater tunnel, large otter area and 350-seat cinema.
Location: The tower next to the shopping centre, G.R.: NS 385823 ///conquests.scuba.banter
Open (2017): Daily
Cost (2017): £13.95, with discounts both for 2 or more …

Cumbernauld Museum

The government probably wasn't intending to build Scotland's ugliest settlement when they set out to build Cumbernauld as a New Town in 1955, but that does seem to be what's happened. On one level it seems to have thrived: despite being only decades old, the town is already North Lanarkshire's largest. But from a visitor's perspective it's hideous: seemingly endless acres of dual carriageways, car parks and claustrophobic shopping centres. And there's a conundrum: what to display in the town museum? There are a few information boards setting out the groundbreaking "vision" of Cumbernauld, lots of aerial photographs and a little about the area's history before concrete covered it. But the suspiciously empty feel of the museum gives the game away: there's not much history to Cumbernauld New Town yet, even if a few people would quite like Cumbernauld New Town to be history...

Name: Cumbernauld Museum★☆☆☆☆
Location: Cumbernauld Library, Allande…

Shotts Heritage Centre

This small museum is housed in Shotts town library. It's probably fair to say that the slightly scruffy displays (someone in the past used duct tape where they shouldn't have) about the region's industrial heritage don't feature on the shortlists of many visitors to Scotland, but it might be worth a (small) detour if you're in the area. Or if you're writing a blog about exploring Scotland. Iron, steel and coal once underpinned the area's economy, though all three industries are long since gone apart from the scars they've left on the landscape. Oh, and if you notice an almost unbearable stench in the air around the building? That's the animal feed factory just up the road.

Name: Shotts Heritage Centre★☆☆☆☆
Location: Benhar Road, Shotts, G.R.: NS 879599 ///neatly.rushed.deluded
Open (2017): Monday to Saturday
Cost: Free

Carfin Grotto

Carfin Grotto is Scotland's national Catholic shrine to the Virgin Mary, and is the brainchild of Father Thomas Taylor, local priest in the 1920's. The site is constructed in the image of Lourdes, a major Catholic pilgrimage site in southern France, and over the last 80 years has become a significant destination in its own right. The dozens of shrines and chapels spread over an extensive site make for a thought-provoking experience, whatever your religion or none.

Name: Carfin Grotto★★★☆☆
Location: B7066 / Newarthill Road, Carfin, Motherwell, G.R.: NS 775587 ///devotion.violin.consoled
Open: Always
Cost: Free

Motherwell Cathedral

Motherwell isn't the most architecturally handsome place in Scotland, and you mightn't associate the town with beautiful buildings. But there's at least one. Motherwell Cathedral, or Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral, opened in 1900 as a large parish church but was elevated to cathedral status in 1948, reflecting the town's growing importance as an industrial centre (which has since declined). If you can locate the correct entry door, the interior feels far larger and brighter than you might guess from the red brick outside; look out for the stained-glass windows, large organ and ornate side chapels.

Name: Motherwell Cathedral★★★☆☆
Location: Coursington Road, Motherwell, G.R.: NS 755571 ///seats.hoping.tree
Open (2017): Daily (entrance through north-east side door outside service times)
Cost: Free

North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre

North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre is located just across the railway from the town centre of Motherwell, the county capital. If the museum's name isn't particularly eye-catching then the building certainly is. A circular tower thrusts into the sky and provides the permanent core of the museum exhibits; "Climb Thru Time" displays on each floor take you slowly through the region's history from 10,000 years ago up to the present day, at which point you arrive at the top of the tower with good views across the county. Neat, huh? Back at ground level, the foyer hosts temporary exhibitions (of wildly varying quality, based on our two visits) while the rest of the building is used for archives, office and conference space.

Name: North Lanarkshire Heritage Centre★★☆☆☆
Location: High Road, Motherwell, G.R.: NS 750571 ///send.scale.newly
Open (2017): Monday to Saturday
Cost: Free