Free Family Fun at Whitelee Windfarm (nr. Glasgow)
A fantastic Family Bike Ride at Whitelee Wind Farm
Overall the Whitelee biking trails are excellent for family bike rides. Not too steep, very well maintained, suitable for tagalongs and bike trailers. But it’s windy up there, so wrap up warm, take snacks and a puncture repair kit.
Perched above the picturesque village of Eaglesham on Eaglesham Moor just south of Glasgow is the UK’s largest onshore wind farm with 215 turbines. The dramatic site with panoramic views has over 80 miles of snaking, interlocking tracks ideal for cycling, dogwalking and horse riding. It’s open to the public, parking is free and there is an interactive visitor centre run by Glasgow Science Centre as well as a café.
On a cool autumn Sunday afternoon, my 10 year old son and I took our mountain bikes to explore the trails. Firstly, although Whitelee Windfarm is high up, at 900 feet, so too is the car park which is a relief as Sam really doesn’t like cycling up long hills! The visitor centre car park closes at 5pm but not the overflow carpark where we parked and after pausing to admire the enormous former turbine blade that doubles as their welcome sign, we popped into the visitor centre to collect a site map.
Mountain Bike Trail
Sam wanted to try out the specially designed mountain bike trail (designed by the Commonwealth Games trail designer and built in 2014) which shoots off the picnic area. The looping one mile long trail is suitable for confident cyclers from about age 6 but has more advanced red marked technical sections which you can take on or avoid, for the more adventurous rider with berms, jerms, jumps, bumps, rocks and log bridges. It’s great fun for kids and as soon as we’d completed one lap, we went straight round again, faster and this time completing all the red sections. It’s easy to view the whole trail so if there’s nobody else on it, you can really bomb around!
The adjoining picnic area has wind break cabins because it’s at 900 feet and this is the west of Scotland – a very sensible investment indeed. Our particular Sunday afternoon wasn’t too cold so the picnic tables were just fine for us. Next up was the Lochgoin Circuit.
The Lochgoin circuit, marked out with red striped posts, is 8 miles long and suitable for hybrids and mountain bikes. The trails were built wide enough for the construction traffic (but it’s a vehicle free zone now) so there is room for everybody but as dogs can be loose and there are horses too, do keep an eye out if you’re racing your children! Some of the inclines are fairly steep (but they don’t go on too long) and there are potholes so little riders may need a helping push at times. We saw families with bike trailers and tagalongs on this circuit so it’s not too strenuous (says the rider not hauling a 5 year old today!). Make sure you climb to the top of Blackwood Hill, where there is a viewpoint and picnic benches.
The Wind Turbines
The Wind Turbines themselves are just massive (65m high) and as you cycle/walk around there’s always people just standing underneath them, looking upwards. They are strangely hypnotic and quite vertigo-inducing as you stare up and the vast blades swoop down directly above you. You don’t have to cycle directly underneath them but you can…
No doubt your kids are fully informed on renewable energy. My 6 year old is always telling me that my car kills polar bears so this place is a good time to quiz them about what they know. Although I waited till the uphill-whinging started before distracting Sam with questions. (The visitor centre has all the questions and answers you’ll need).
The Spine Road and other trails.
We found that the 11 miles or so of the MTB trails and the Lochgoin circuit was just about enough for Sam (10) for one afternoon but there are many more miles of trails to explore on the Whitelee Windfarm – in fact the footprint of the windfarm is even larger than Glasgow City and there are apparently not too many restrictions and the no go areas are clearly marked. You are not allowed off trail at all however as it is too boggy.
Overall the Whitelee biking trails are excellent for family bike rides. Not too steep, very well maintained, suitable for tagalongs and bike trailers. But its windy up there so wrap up warm and take sandwiches and a puncture repair kit.
Whitelee Windfarm Visitor Centre
There is a free, fun and hands on exhibition about renewable energy run by the Science Centre, a nice café with stunning views and a small gift shop. Also free wifi and bike sheds.
Whitelee Ranger Service
There are always a lot of activities going on at Whitelee so check out our What’s on pages or sign up the Whitelee Countryside rangers newsletter. Or pop into their hut beside the Visitor Centre. email@example.com Or phone: 0141 614 0962
Kids Parties at Whitelee Windfarm,
They also offer eco children’s parties.
Call 0141 614 0851 or email http://www.whiteleewindfarm.co.uk/contact?inpage
In conclusion, Whitelee Windfarm offers a brilliant fun, highly informative and very cheap day out with the kids!
ScottishPower Renewables owns Whitelee Windfarm Visitor Centre and it is managed by
Glasgow Science Centre.