As a centre for outdoor recreation, Strathclyde Country Park in Lanarkshire ranks as one of the best in the UK. There is a vast range of activities available within its four square kilometres and continues to attract visitors since its creation in 1965. Activities fall into two main areas: water-based and land-based.
The focal area of the park is Strathclyde Loch, an artificial loch which is a major centre for water sports and caters for enthusiasts and those who just want a fun day out. It is home to Strathclyde Park Rowing Club and the Scottish Rowing Centre whose training facilities are the best in Europe. The Rowing Club welcome both competitive and recreational rowers and offer state-of-the-art facilities to both. Beginners enrolling in the Rowstart course are guided through the basics of rowing and progress to single sculls while experienced rowers enjoy the world class training facilities.
Other water sports at the Park include canoeing, jet skiing, windsurfing, dingy sailing, and water-skiing. Equipment and training for each are available for hire. For those who just want to mess about on the water, there are pedalos, Canadian canoes and bumper boats. The loch is regularly monitored by rescue boats to ensure that all loch users are safe at all times.
The loch and rivers Clyde and South Calder also support a healthy population of coarse fish and reasonably priced fishing permits are available.
Football fans are well-catered for with seven pitches and a 7-aside football centre. The surrounding land is criss-crossed by purpose built tracks for jogging, cross country running, and there are also seven miles of bridle paths for horse riders, and three different courses for orienteering. The paths are also suitable for cycling and indeed it is possible to hire bikes at the watersport centre.
Strathclyde Country Park and its loch have hosted a number of major events over the years. The T in the Park music festival was held there between 1994 and 1997. The loch is a regular venue for national and international rowing competitions, the most prominent of which was the Commonwealth Games in 1986. It also hosts sailing and canoeing regattas and will be the venue for the triathlon in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The extensive showgrounds is the venue for country fairs and public exhibitions, many of which attract tens of thousands of visitors.
There is a variety of countryside at Strathclyde Park such as woodland, parkland and wetlands that are networked with nature trails and paths which visitors are free to roam. The park is a sanctuary and breeding ground for around 150 different wildlife species. Visitors are welcome to make use of the services of the park’s resident Rangers who take regular guided walks throughout the year.
Dominating the skyline at Strathclyde Park is the giant ferris wheel belonging to M&D’s theme park. There is also a variety of white knuckle roller coasters and thrill rides or for the more faint-hearted there’s an indoor entertainment complex with bowling, amusements and tropical rain forest. The park has excellent visitor facilities including ample free parking and disabled access.
Getting to Strathclyde Country Park couldn’t be easier as it is very accessible lying just off junction 5 on the M74 motorway in the Clyde Valley close to Hamilton and Motherwell. Between April and September, a regular bus service operates from Buchanan Street Bus Station in Glasgow.