Travel Blog #KidsGoFree

Palacerigg Country Park by tracks & field!

I’m still excited by the summer route change from Kelvindale Railway Station, so today we ventured a little on the #KidsGoFree deal with Scotrail

The trains from Anniesland on the Maryhill Line are currently running to Springburn rather than Glasgow Queen Street, and some of them heading onwards through Cumbernauld and onto Falkirk.  So to take advantage of this route change (until 6th of August) we packed up a picnic, headed for Kelvindale Railway Station, and jumped on the train to Greenfaulds Station.  This is nine stations from Kelvindale on the revised route, and the journey takes just under 40 minutes, which is a little faster than it would take to drive the same distance on the M80. 

With the #KidsGoFree deal we got a return ticket for the four of us for – wait for it - £5.50!  This is because I pay a return fare and I get two fare paying aged children for free, then our youngest child is only 3 so there is no charge. 

The other great thing about going by train is that no one suddenly pipes up that they need the toilet and can’t wait, and children love travelling by train so there is none of the usual fussing about where to sit, or moaning about going in the child seat.  And I can relax too! 

The journey was great, and kept them interested.  Next time I’d take the bikes, because the road to Palacerigg lies between Greenfaulds and Cumbernauld, but alighting at Greenfaulds and heading for the Lenziemill Park and Ride car park means you are on exactly the correct road.  If you have young children it would be easy to prebook a taxi to collect you to take you straight to Palacerigg, because I couldn’t find any trace of a bus service.  And it would be a short, cheap ride.  If they are all old enough for bikes, I’d prefer to do the trip that way, because the road is a very picturesque country lane, with a wide, safe pavement to keep them out of danger.  The bikes would also open up much more of the park for you too!  If you do walk, then it depends on how little are the legs.  The walk could take anything from 30 minutes to over an hour. 

Palacerigg has many attractions.  It has a lovely golf course.  It has walking trails, many of which have been upgraded to allow bikes a comfortable ride.  But the main fun as far as the children are concerned, is the farm.  There are many endangered breeds of domestic livestock kept there.  There are all sorts of chicken, sheep, goats, huge rabbits, ducks, geese and much more.  The animals change all the time, and the warmer the weather the more to see. 

There are loads of places where the children can wash their hands, and well looked after toilets. 

There is also a Visitors’ Centre with an indoor exhibition showing the fish to be found in the nearby river, what a Badger’s Set looks like, how the bird’s feathers feel and many, many more things.  Staff are on hand to give out maps, sell bags of animal feed (so the children can feed the animals) and help you enjoy your day.  There is a café in the centre selling snacks and drinks, but there is also loads of picnic areas. 

In front of the visitors’ centre is a huge pond, and a little children’s garden with a little summer house. 

The other big attraction is the fantastic play park.  Sand features a lot! There are diggers in sand pits, and a climbing frame, slide, engineer’s delight with chains and pulleys and scopes to funnel sand all over. 

There are various types of swings to suit all ages, and a zip slide which is bigger and faster than the one at the play park on Dorchester Avenue.  And the park has been planted up surrounded by little bamboo forest mazes, and inside one of these you will find a lovely musical feature! 

There is also an attraction I have never entered, and that is the Watch Me Grow nursery, which doesn’t open on a Saturday.  I think that it doubles up as an assisted employer, so perhaps the nursery grounds are easy to access for chairs and other mobility aids.  If anyone knows, I’m keep to find out, because peeking through the locked gate gave the impression of a really pretty nursery bursting with colour. 

Previously, I had noticed that there was a wildflower garden, but this has now been converted into a tractor electric go-kart track, with huge tyres to navigate around.  They are the usual £1 per shot. 

If you want to take a wander through the lovely countryside, the most fun way is to head down to the treetops walkway and take a walk through the upper branches.  Now I have vertigo, so being 30 feet up in the air is a little daunting for me, but the children had a ball, pretending they were flying, spotting various animals in the fields from the lookout points, and then racing each other above and on the ground as there is a common start and end point. 

The treetop walkway leads you into a series of pathways and farm tracks that are colour coded so that you can make your walks manageable.  There are interesting seats along the way, and the badger trail has the cutest badgers carved out of bits of tree trunk, indicating which path to take.  My lot love the path less travelled, which took us though some overgrown clearings, across rickety bridges and along mossy boardwalks.  They had a great time!  

Another part of the park that fascinates me, but I’ve never been in, are the Millennium Longhouses. These buildings are used for craft activities and their construction is lovely, with tapered logs forming the structure of the walls, making the buildings look like upturned boats. 

Whilst going to Palacerigg costs you as much as you want to it, because the farm, playpark and walks are all free, if you want a coffee, or an ice cream from the van TAKE CASH WITH YOU.  There are no ATMs and only the shop in the Visitors’ Centre accepts cards.  

When leaving you have the same choices, jump in a cheap cab from the visitors’ centre, cycle or take a walk.  Although the children will probably be very tired by then. 

I have to say that I think this trip will be a great school holiday jaunt.  It can take you all day, the children are really being entertained, the surroundings are stunning, and the train fare is so low! 

If any of you do go, please take pictures and post them – because I forgot to take my phone *buries face in hands* 


Buying tickets is as simple as getting on the train and purchasing from the conductor!

Birkenhead Bound!

I intend to write Blog posts on journeys from Kelvindale Railway Station with the children to give an idea of the sort of fun times you can have with the #KidsGoFree deal, where two fare paying children can travel for free with one adult paying a return.
But I had to make an unexpected trip to Liverpool for work, and thought I’d kick off by writing about the benefits of business travel by train instead!
So Kelvindale to Birkenhead! From Canalside to Merseyside.
I had to collect my mother before I left because she was babysitting, and the kids were horribly girny so I jumped on the first train that came, and found myself on the 16.18 to Aidrie out of Anniesland. Being one of those people who ensure that I’ve checked everything way before the time of departure (!) I immediately panicked that I hadn’t brought the right stuff. I scratched in my bag for my tickets and knocked a £20 onto the floor without realising. Next thing, like superman bursting from a telephone box, this young Kelvin College student, shot from between his mates, picked up the £20, and said, “sorry you dropped this.” I looked at him, the £20 and the return tickets I’d found in my bag meaning I was good to go, and I decided right there and then that I was going to enjoy the next child free day and a half!
Got to Glasgow Central and the 17.10 Virgin Trans Pennine Express was all locked for cleaning from its trip up from Manchester Airport. I must have looked a bit confused because one of the drivers, Ritchie, came out of the train cab and asked me did I know which carriage I needed. I hadn’t known for certain the train I’d be taking, so I hadn’t bothered to book a seat. Ritchie was so lovely he walked me up the train to the best carriages for unreserved seats, then later before we pulled off he came back to ask me if I was happy with my seat because he’d found some more unreserved tables! Seriously, the best train driver ever. Virgin you struck Gold with that one!
I also nearly got a bunch of flowers from one of the male cleaners, but that was a case of mistaken identity haha.  The train was spotless!
Ritchie, of the great driver fame, told me that this train was a commuter train for the Glasgow to Lockerbie stretch with people making the return trip daily. There wasn’t a buffet car, but an airplane style buffet trolley trundled up and down selling drinks and snacks.
The stretch of track from about 20 minutes outside Glasgow to Carlisle would fool you into thinking a only handful of people live in Scotland. The scenery is beautiful. I personally don’t mind the look of wind turbines, I find them quite graceful, oh but there are lots of them now, aren’t there! Not so many after Lockerbie though. The skies between Lockerbie and Carlisle were straight out of a Turner painting, with glorious layers of swirling clouds.
Well done Oxenholme station in the Lake District! It was the first one I saw that looked as though it had been sponsored because there was a lovely little seating area, with proper wooden benches, and a colourful flower bed. I’m going to be searching for a Friends of Oxenholme to see if I am correct.
I almost had some major drama at Preston! I’m not entirely sure why, but one of the other trains I had considered catching said that I should change at Preston. Look maybe it did, maybe I made all that up reminiscing about old trips to Blackpool as a child, but I decided that Preston was where I needed to change. I got off the train and looked at the Departure Board searching for my connection. The only place name I recognised was Glasgow, the return journey of the one I had just made. Just at that my guardian angel thrust two conductors out of the office right in front of me. So I asked them where I got the train to Liverpool from, and they looked a little baffled before saying “Wigan!”
I spun like a crazy woman and shouted over to the man with the airplane coffee trolley “Hold the train!” I raced back aboard and said to him I thought I had to get off here for Liverpool and he said no, some trains had to do that but this train went straight to Wigan North Western Only problem was someone had claimed my seat haha So I took a stroll through an uncomfortably packed First Class and found loads of empty “pleb” seats at the front of the train. Who’d have guessed?
When I got to Wigan, it was a breeze! There was a man on the platform telling us that the connection was sitting waiting at another platform and how to get to it, and someone to welcome us at the connecting train. Very professional and helpful.
The Northern Service Wigan to Liverpool Lime Street is one of those trains that pees at every lamp post. I suppose it is similar to our little Maryhill Line, only much longer and much much slower! The customer care signs on the train are funny, and encourage you to engage, but I really needed to go to the toilet – which was a no no! I could smell it from metres away, they were blocked with yellow toilet paper (oh yes! It was that bad) and they looked like they hadn’t been washed in a month. It was so bad I even tweeted about it. Stopped short of a picture though, you’ll be glad to hear.
Watching from the train window I assumed that Eccleston Park Station must also be adopted, because it had really beautiful banks of flowers. Again, kudos to whoever tends it. I also have to say that Merseyside Rail’s daffodil yellow Branding really brightened up the stations! And the treat of the journey was watching the sunset to the west as it was a particularly beautiful huge orange ball in a streaky cloudy sky.
I was so tired and so glad to see Liverpool Lime Street! Immediately you know you are Liverpool with the warmth of the people. Across the concourse, down into the underground I never knew Liverpool had, and within 10 minutes I had safely arrived at the hotel in Birkenhead!
Now I checked to see if I could have flown here. There is no direct Glasgow to Liverpool John Lennon Airport. So you must take a flight to Belfast, then from Belfast to Liverpool. The flight takes 4 hours – longer than the train – and then you still have to get into town. The cost to fly tomorrow morning and back tomorrow night came in at around £250, and I wouldn’t have made my meeting because the flight touched down at 11am, so it is not an option at all.
Driving would have been a nightmare.
So all in all, I think the train was a great option, and I had a really pleasant journey.
Well I am off to sleep now. I’ll let you know if I get a chance to see any of the sights tomorrow!
Buying Tickets and stuff!
I opened and chose Friends of Kelvindale Railway Station as my selected Cause, then I searched for Virgin Trains and was diverted to the Virgin Trains website.
Here I bought a ticket to Liverpool Lime Street Anyday Return for £79 (must make the return trip within one months of your outward journey). A First Class return will set you back £319! As I said above, I didn’t book a seat, but I did see people complaining in the Virgin Ticket Office at Glasgow that they had booked a seat online but they didn’t actually get a reserved seat!
Oh and I earned Friends of Kelvindale Railway Station a donation at no cost to myself!
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