Before moving to Glasgow, I’d been a little nervous about having access to nature. I’m not a city girl, but Glasgow and the surrounding area have stolen my heart, impressing me with lush parks, nearby woodlands and elegant castles and country houses.
The following list includes places that can be accessed without a car, but be prepared to coordinate around train and bus timetables. Also, please be mindful of covid restrictions and only visit places within five miles of your council area.
- Gleniffer Braes Country Park and Craigie Linn
This park is about a 30-minute walk from the Paisley Canal train station. At the Gleniffer Braes Country Park, you’ll find lovely trails, panoramic views of Paisley and Glasgow and Craigie Linn, a 30-foot waterfall.
- Queen’s Park
Queen’s Park is a Southside favourite with views of Glasgow and a pond which, when frozen over, is a great ice skating spot.
- Pollok Country Park and House
Near to Queen’s Park is Pollok Country Park which features numerous trails, gardens, Highland cows (um, yes!) and the Edwardian-style Pollok House. The grounds if the house remain open during lockdown.
- Kelvingrove Park
Kelvingrove Park is one of Glasgow’s oldest public parks where you’ll see the architectural marvel that is the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum as well as statues, monuments and, of course, the River Kelvin. Some fantastic food trucks can often be found on Kelvin Way. (I highly recommend the halloumi fries at MacTassos!)
- Kelvin Walkway
From Kelvingrove Park, you can stroll along the River Kelvin to the Glasgow Botanic Gardens on the Kelvin Walkway, but the path extends much beyond that (from Kelvinhaugh to Milngavie).
- Glasgow Botanic Gardens
At the Glasgow Botanic Gardens, you’ll find elegant glasshouses and a variety of well-maintained flora and fauna. Although the glasshouses are closed due to covid-19 but are usually open in the afternoons and have free entry.
- National Cycle Route 754
The National Cycle Route 754 goes along the Forth and Clyde Canal for a ways, then continues along the Union Canal to connect Glasgow and Edinburgh. (Its entire length is 56 miles!) Even if you don’t have a bike, the path is suitable for walking and running, but please be mindful of cycling traffic, especially with underpasses. There’s actually a local group of volunteer litter pickers who meet at Lock 35 every Saturday and Sunday called Clean the Canal. This is also a reminder to bin your litter!
- Dawsholm Park
This park is a personal favourite where I occasionally run, walk or stare at people’s dogs. Dawsholm Park has both open fields and woodland trails that snake along the River Kelvin, connecting you to the Kelvin Walkway. You can also sometimes find Highland cows at the south end of the park which are brought from Pollok Park.
- Mugdock and Craigmaddie Reservoirs
The town of Milngavie is home to two reservoirs. On the north side of the reservoirs (which can be accessed by crossing a bridge between the reservoirs), there is a quiet wooded trail. If you follow the trail north, you’ll reach the end of the Mugdock Reservoir where you can access Mugdock Road and then Mugdock Country Park and Castle.
- Mugdock Country Park and Castles
This is one of my favourite places in the Glasgow area. Mugdock Country Park is quite expansive with several trails for walking or cycling. In addition, there are two castles here. Although mostly in ruins, Mugdock Castle has rich medieval history. Because the site is unsafe, Craigend Castle is surrounded by a fence, but this Regency Gothic castle is still worth seeing if you’re at the park. Interestingly enough, the Craigend Estate served as a zoo from 1949 to 1955.
- Blairskaith Linn
This wee waterfall is a hidden gem about an hour’s walk from the Milngavie train station. While the walk to Blairskaith Linn is mostly along the road, there’s a lot of scenic countryside. The waterfall itself isn’t too large, but there’s a cave behind it (which is very muddy).
- Campsie Glen and Waterfalls
From Glasgow City Centre, you can get to Campsie Glen in under an hour by bus (or thirty minutes with Uber, but you’ll have to find alternative transport back into the city). There are a few small cascades and three bigger waterfalls in the glen. Much of the terrain along the gorge is steep, rocky and slippery, so please be careful when visiting. A footpath in Campsie Glen leads up to the Campsie Glen Car Park from which you can access paths to Crichton’s Cairn, Lecket Hill and other hills.
- Crichton’s Cairn and Lecket Hill
If you want some classic Scottish hillwalking, this is a fun spot not far from Glasgow. AllTrails shows a simple circular route that covers Crichton’s Cairn and Lecket Hill from which you can get fantastic views (on a clear day). The path can get quite boggy (because Scotland), so bring appropriate footwear or be prepared to have wet feet.
- Dumbarton Rock and Castle
Dumbarton Rock is an ancient volcanic plug is the city of Dumbarton, just west of Glasgow. Dumbarton Castle, situated on the rock, overlooks the River Clyde and is a neat example of Georgian military architecture. Sadly, you can only go on top of the 240-foot rock by paying an entry fee (but only £3.60) at the castle which is currently closed due to covid-19. Nonetheless, it’s a sight to see, and there’s a riverside walkway that’ll give you stunning views of the castle from across the water.
- Overtoun House and Spardie Linn
Overtoun House is located quite near Dumbarton. This Victorian country house has a tearoom and beautiful grounds with access to amazing trails. One of trails leads along a gorge that has a couple of waterfalls. Spardie Linn is one of my favourite waterfalls in Scotland because it’s off the beaten path. That being said, be careful when navigating the gorge to get a closer look, and be respectful of the wildlife. As always, leave no trace.
- Black Linn Reservoir and Doughnot and Brown Hills
This wee walk is also near Dumbarton and can be accessed from Overtoun House. According to AllTrails, this route is moderate in difficulty. It’s a nice wander into the hills with some stunning views of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.
- Lang Craigs
You can bypass the circular walk above and, instead, check out Lang Craigs which is also accessible from Overtoun House. The path takes follows the top of cliffs (but there’s a fence along most of the edge). You can take a circuit specified by Walkhighlands as well.
- Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is a must-see whenever you visit Scotland. It’s out of range for residents of the Glasgow City Centre during lockdown, but it’ll be there when restrictions lift. The area around the loch is ideal for walking, cycling and other outdoor recreation.
- Balloch Country Park and Castle
Located at the southern end of Loch Lomond is Balloch Country Park and Castle. The park is a short walk from the Balloch train station and a lovely spot for walking, running and picnicking. (I’ve also climbed inside—not up—a tree there!)
So, there you have it! Nineteen outdoor spots in and around Glasgow (but there are many more!). Again, please adhere to covid-19 restrictions and adventure safely!
This week, I’m thanking Clean the Canal! These volunteers commit their time to clean up rubbish around Lock 35 on the Forth and Clyde Canal in Glasgow. Their work is greatly appreciated, but please just be a decent human being by not littering! Thanks!
The featured photo was taken by me in Balloch, overlooking Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. The woman is my Swedish friend and adventure buddy Olivia!