Take a picnic, enjoy the scenery and learn a little bit along the way.
I had heard a lot of mixed reviews about Palacerigg Country Park before visiting; many had said that the park had lost funding over the years and therefore had suffered as a result, while others assured me it was still a great wee gem that was well worth a visit.
Being that the park is free and not having any past experiences myself, I decided to check it out.
Located in South East Cumbernauld, the country park is a mere half an hour drive from Glasgow city centre, however, a very long walk from Cumbernauld train station (as I learnt the hard way!). However, if you pick a sunny day, the walk is possible, but definitely not for the faint-hearted! It took me roughly 40 minutes with a pram and a lot of it was up-hill.
The park is set over 40 hectares and every bit of the park's space has been used wisely. Upon entering there is a large play park for children complete with zip wire, sandpit, shaded grassy area for picnicking but also benches available. This was a hit with Joseph who ran straight for the sand pit (allowing me some much needed time to recover from our walk!).
There is a cafe across from the park offering hot and cold refreshments between 10 - 4pm, but be warned that you do need cash to purchase and there are no cash machines on site.
The cafe leads on to a sweet wee gift shop and a hands-on education centre that has a massive fish tank and a lot of interesting displays about the different woodland creatures to look out for on your way around. We particularly enjoyed the tunnel that was set out like a badgers den.
Back outside and as well as a lot of nice walks and trails to follow, there is also an impressive farm that is home to many rare breeds as well as your usual farmyard fare. The rare breeds include North Ronaldsay and Boreray sheep, Bagot goats, Tamworth pigs and Scots grey and Scots dumpy poultry.
As you wander around, you will notice some extra touches for the little ones, such as fun puzzles, wee mazes and buttons to press that give more information about each animal. I was also pleased to learn that you could feed the animals which added to the excitement and the feed was only 50p per bag, available from the visitor centre.
I think the bit Joseph liked best was the go-karts in the style of tractors which again, were really reasonable at £1 a go and for any transport mad little one, it's a real hit.
Overall I would say, that as a first-time visitor, I found this park really enjoyable and considering it is totally free, I don't really see how you can go wrong! However, as we don't drive, I don't think we will be back in a hurry as it is just so far away. If you can drive though, it is the perfect way to spend a summer's afternoon. Take a picnic and enjoy the scenery and learn a little bit along the way.