The staycation has its roots in America, but Scots have been talking about going ‘doon th’ watter’ for generations. Day tripping on the Clyde became a popular summer pastime with the advent of the paddle steamer in the early 20th century. In today’s economic climate more families are again enjoying day-trips closer to home. Here are our top five trips to take the family ‘doon th’ watter’ this summer.
With its sandstone tenements, Gourock used to be known as Glasgow-by-the-Sea. Although sometimes overlooked as a place simply to catch the ferry to Dunoon, Gourock’s variety of fantastic cafes and restaurants such as Cafe Continental and One Cove Road, as well as a great selection of independent shops, make it somewhere well worth a visit. Nearby is the lovely, although sometimes crowded, Lunderston Bay – the perfect location for some quality rockpooling. Gourock is also home Scotland’s oldest open-air, heated pool – with spectacular views over the clyde estury.
There is plenty to do to while away an afternoon in Dunoon, and just getting the boat is exciting for most kids. A little-known gem is Puck’s Glen – a steepish walk by the side of a fast flowing series of waterfalls. You pass through gorges and over bridges. It’s a glistening, moss-covered fairy-landscape best seen in the morning when mist rises and the dew sparkles. Not advised for very tiny children (although would be okay in a backpack), as some ledges are a little dangerous. There is crazy golf, an old-fashioned amusement arcade and ice cream to be had in the town too.
3. Cardross area and Loch Lomondside
Just across the water from Port Glasgow is the lovely Ardardan Estate. It’s a working farm, so there’s lots to see, plus tractor rides will keep the kids entertained. They also have a fab cafe and farm shop, as well as garden centre and beautiful walled garden. They often have activities organised for kids during the holidays too. Nearby is Loch Lomond Shores – home to the Birds of Prey and Sea Life Centres if the weather turns. Further up the loch is the picturesque village of Luss, which has a great campsite if you fancy going wild for a day or two!
There’s been a bit of a revival recently in this old-fashioned seaside town with new restaurants opening up around the Marina. But if you prefer to keep it ‘old-skool’ then you can’t go wrong catching a few rides at the fairground, followed by a fish supper from one of the fantastic chippies, finishing with ice-cream from the famous Nardini’s. Also nearby is Kelburn Country Estate and Castle. It has amazing grounds and fantastic activities for kids throughout the holidays.
This wee island punches above its weight with activites to enjoy. Despite being only one and a half hours from Glasgow, it boasts its own micro-climate – it can be raining on the mainland but clear on Cumbrae. There are even palm trees, and porpoises can often be seen from the boat ride over. Cycling around the island is a popular pastime – there are plenty of bike-hire shops. Take a picnic and stop at any of the lovely beaches on the way around, climb on the famous Crocodile Rock, play on the playgrounds or fairground rides, catch yourself a crab, or just enjoy some ice cream in the sun!