Places to go: Lochwinnoch Nature Reserve

Regularly, the nurture in nature outdoor playgroup takes us a bit further afield, to Lochwinnoch Nature Reserve. The train station is right next to it and Cubling just loves going on the train, so we usually travel by train, in spite of the change of stations which with two kids and all the outdoor gear to be carried by just one mummy can be a bit difficult. One criticism of train travel in Glasgow I would have is that the local stations are not very accessible – so travelling with a heavy pram is almost always out. And when you sling it and spend a full day outdoors with lots of gear and provisions for the day, it is exhausting.

Thankfully Lochwinnoch Nature Reserve, have a sort of self serve coffee machine and a few snacks to keep you going. The centre has great viewing equipment to do plenty of birdwatching, and activities associated with it. Nature trail cards to take along on walks, feeding stations and so much more, a fabulous resource and great to wait out a quick shower of rain if you don’t want to get wet. We were lucky though and set off for a walk.

I should maybe mention that my then three year old is a bit shy with other kids, very selective about the children she plays with and generally prefers adults to children. It was a pleasure to see then how the walk and exploration with the other children led to her explaining a map to a younger child, how she engaged with pretend play suggested by an older child, how she both followed suggestions and initiated ideas, while at all times making her own choices of what she wanted to do. Throughout the day she was independent in cooperative play and individual exploration. There was such a beautiful balance that it made my eyes almost water. She discovered mushrooms and huts, the first signs of spring and little streams, explored a broken bridge, the streams underneath, and the sound of a train rumbling overhead while stood under the railway bridge.

The wet winter colours were almost magical. We were very tired at the end, smelled of the outdoors and brought home rather a lot of mud. I asked my daughter if she had a good day and her face lit up. I asked her what was better, nursery yesterday or the woods today. The woods!” she exclaimed without even the hint of hesitation.

Lochwinnoch Nature Reserve is managed by the RSPB but as far as I can tell is free of charge to everyone. The walks are around the lochside and while unfortunately there is no round walk, the walk offers enough variety to not get too boring when retracing your steps. Staff are very helpful explaining about birds and there is an RSPB shop too.

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