Places to go: Kelvingrove Park and Botanic Gardens

This week’s recommendation of places to visit and spend time outdoors takes us to another of Glasgow’s parks. For anyone living in the West End of Glasgow, this is an obvious choice, not so much for those living in other parts of the city so it’s worth while to feature it here.

Along the small river Kelvin is an area of partially landscaped, partially wild banks with footpaths, play areas and meadows. While not particularly wide at any point, the paths follow the riverbank for a decent distance and offer a lot of variety. I spotted my first wild owl there and considering the proximity to built-up and heavily populated areas, this still surprises me.

Kelvingrove Park, to start with, offers Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which of course is strictly speaking an indoor place. However, the RSPB run regular activities in the museum for children which aim to connect them to nature and bring nature alive – and which provide ideas to take home! Of course there’s also the whole natural history side of the museum with so much to explore and learn about that it ensures entertainment for many visits.

Near the museum is a swing park and skate park, and a little further east you will find an even nicer swing park with a conveniently located cafe, An Clachan, next to it. The cafe has plenty of outdoor seating and it really is a great place to be – the kids can play with a sense of freedom while it’s a safe environment, parents are able to enjoy a cuppa while watching their children play. There’s enough grassy areas to have a picnic too, and on Friday afternoon, The Christiania Box Bike is there with arts and crafts activities for the children.

Moving further west, you can enjoy the walk along the river Kelvin, meadows ideal for outdoor play, kite flying, frisbee throwing, cycling, squirrel feeding and whatever else takes your fancy. The further north west you go, the quieter it gets, with some areas of real solitude in the gorge of the river, which drowns the noises of the nearby city. The trees have wonderful colours in autumn, and there are many dens and hideouts to discover.

At the Botanic Gardens, there is even more to explore. With plenty of lawn to run and play on, flower beds to admire the colours of blossoms, there is also the Children’s Garden, a fabulous project by Children’s Orchards. Here you can have a picnic or meet up with other children and parents and explore the vegetable, fruit and soft fruit beds, watch how tatties are dug up or let the children play imaginatively with the playhouse at the top of the garden. Children can get involved in the weekly gardening activities and to round it off, there is a swing park right next to it.

The various glasshouses and the Kibble palace offer an indoor exploration of tropical plants as well as a little pond which never ceases to attract the sustained interest of the little ones. It’s a busy park and very popular with families and because of this may be the least daunting of places to go in Glasgow for anyone worried about the more lonely woods of other parks.

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