With the pandemic in 2020, finding outdoor spaces that are close to home was super important to my mental health. I wanted to find somewhere where I could feel like I was away from it all which is where I really discovered the beauty of Castle Semple Country Park.
Castle Semple Country Park in Lochwinnoch
You can’t miss Castle Semple Country Park in Lochwinnoch, it’s easy to get to by train and car – and plenty of space in the car park too. There’s bike hire next to the Visitor Centre and a cafe where you can sit with a coffee and stare out at the view.
The loch makes for a lovely walk but if you want to go further afield, you can walk the Semple Trail (9 miles) which goes up to Howwood – on this walk you can spot an old church, grotto and it goes past the RSPB Visitor Centre. You’ll end up in Parkhill Wood which feels a million miles from the flat lochside that you started in. It’s a very pretty place and can be enjoyed in every season – a favourite of mine is autumn when the leaves turn red and amber.
Castle Semple is also right next to National Cycle Route 7 and part of the Semple Trail is on the cycle path – it’s a popular place with family cycle rides and people out exploring.
Many people come to Castle Semple Country Park to take part in watersports. On summer evenings, I’ve spotted groups of paddleboarders and canoers on the loch – when I get around to buying a paddleboard Lochwinnoch will be the first place I will go. The loch always looks so peaceful and often, as the sun sets, it’s taken on a pink glow.
Castle Semple Country Park caters for people with all abilities, take a look at their accessible equipment for on the water and for on land.
Kenmure Hill Walk
If you want to have a good stretch of your legs, I recommend walking to Kenmure Hill. Starting at the Castle Semple car park, walk towards the loch and follow the path along until you come to a section where the path leads left – you will also see wooden seats and a sign with a map.
Take this left which goes slightly uphill and you will then see National Cycle Route 7 – follow the path to the right towards Howwood. You will keep following this path for a while. There is a little gate on the right-hand side – this is how to start the walk up to the hill. The hill is on a working farm, dogs must be kept on a lead at all times. It takes roughly 10-20 minutes to climb up the hill from the gate entrance.
Up close, you can see just how big the Kenmure Hill Temple is and take in the view! I find this area very peaceful and although it’s quite an easy hill to get to, there’s still something quite atmospheric about standing there next to the Temple which is in pretty good condition.
Nobody knows for certain why the Temple was built but it is thought it was used as a lookout.
Castle Semple is part of Clyde Muirshiel Park where there are lots of great walks to go on and beautiful views. Clyde Muirshiel Park is huge and spans a few council areas.
Where is Castle Semple Park?
Castle Semple Park is signposted when you drive into Lochwinnoch. The visitor centre has lots of parking spaces – so you should be able to find a spot!
If you’re in the area, you may enjoy visiting Muirshiel Park.