As the days left of my maternity leave are rapidly decreasing I am trying to use the remaining time well by revisiting some of my favourite walks with my baby.
As long as I’ve lived in the area Ardgillan Castle and Demesne has been one of my favourite spots for a walk. When I was single it was a great place to clear a hangover and read a book. When I met my husband it was one of the first places we went on a date. The day I went into labour we were walking there saying how much we were looking forwards to bringing our baby girl to the playground.
So it’s no surprise I’m a frequent visitor with my baby, but it isn’t the perfect venue for a buggy walk.
The park is situated on a hillside which gives it magnificent views of the sea. However this does mean it’s a big hill down from the carpark to the castle or playground. Great on the way down, but it can be tough going back up.
Down the bottom of the park and in the woods the paths can be pretty bumpy. You need a robust buggy. For tiny sleeping babies it might be a bit too jiggly, but my baby at 7 months giggles like she’s on a mini baby rollercoaster. When she was younger I tended to take her in a sling instead
If you want to stick to the smoother paths there is a loop around the castle, and you can visit the walled gardens, packed with flowers and vegetables, and the rose garden with a pond kids love. These offer great sensory experiences for a baby.
The star of Ardgillan Castle is the playground. For older children it offers a great assortment of slides and climbing structures. The rubber swing seats are a comfortable shape for younger babies and it’s the first place we had the pleasure of watching her swing in wonderment.
For older children there’s also a fairy trail, with signposts about the various trees which looks great fun.
There’s a café serving coffees, sandwiches and cakes. There’s a ramp up to the door, but being an old castle the wooden door takes a bit of manoeuvring. Luckily the staff are great and always happy to help. It has a nice terrace outside, but would be a bit easier for buggies if you could just access the terrace directly from the path.
There are toilets inside and outside the castle, and portacabin style loos at the playground. They have a baby changing fold down table in both the gents and ladies, but it’s by the sinks, so on a busy day if you were in there with the pram you’d be blocking the way, and wouldn’t have any privacy so it isn’t ideal. To be honest we’ve just changed her on a mat on the grass ‘en plein air’ and that’s been fine.
Ardgillan Castle is still my favourite place to go for a walk. With the hilly bumpy paths it isn’t ideal for a really small baby unless you have a sling, but now she can go on the swings and enjoy a bumpy ride I’m going more often. I think it will be somewhere we keep coming for years to come, and I can’t wait to watch her explore and gain confidence in the playground.