Mugdock Country Park has absolutely everything you would want in a park: walking trails, wildlife, a pond, a loch, castles, kids play park, bike hire and an amazing cafe with homemade food. But best of all, Mugdock has history.
I’ve been going to Mugdock Country Park my entire life. I even have memories so far back of being in the park that I didn’t even know were from the park. That’s the genius of Mugdock, it’s far enough from Glasgow that if you were eight years old you would think you are miles away, but in fact it’s an easy 30 minute drive through Milngavie and Strahblane.
The History of the Park & Mugdock Castle
Mugdock is technically a hamlet just 10 miles from Glasgow city centre. With a rich heritage and build history, the park stretches 280 acres and dates back to the new stone and bronze ages. The natural beauty and landscapes meant that the park was home to early settlers who have all contributed significantly to the history of Scotland’s countryside.
Evidence of settlement is noted in documents relating to the now ruin Mugdock Castle. The castle was built by the Graham family in the 14th century, with them expanding their estate further throughout the park to create a local hub as time went on. The family’s estate continued to prosper and modifications were made to the castle to accommodate for the likes of a great hall, walled garden and gun loops as gun powder was introduced. Walking through the ruins, you can see the skeleton of these structures.
The castle was once a stronghold but had come under attack twice during the reign of King Charles I. Part of its strength lay in the fact it was surrounded by Mugdock Loch which was once significantly larger than it is today. The map below outlines a faded area/border where the loch previously stretched to.
Craigend Stables & Castle
The genius of Mugdock is that you are not only treated to one castle, but two. Craigend Castle is in the northwest of the park, with the stables converted into the visitor centre and surrounding cafes and shops as you enter from the main car park.
The castle has a rich and unique history behind it. The castle was built in a regency gothic style in 1816 but later sold to Andrew Wilson who transformed it into a zoo. The zoo housed thousands of animals, birds and reptiles and attracted just as many visitors over the next couple of years. The most notable attraction was Charlie the Elephant who kept his keeper company in the stables. But as the local bus service between Milngavie and the zoo was discontinued, visitor numbers dwindled and the zoo closed in 1955.
Now the stables function as the park’s visitor centre and the castle lies derelict just a short walk away. The stables are in pristine condition but unfortunately the castle is too dangerous to enter. It’s closed off with a fence and only visible from the nearby path. Hopefully one day, the castle can be restored to at least access its outer shell.
An Afternoon in the Park
I’ve visited mugdock country park hundreds of times over the years and I think I find a new walking path every time. The park is a maze of gravel paths, thick trees and forest shrubbery, and I guarantee you will find an interesting story behind every nook and cranny of this countryside park.
My favourite route for a short walk that takes around an hour is to head straight when you come out the visitor centre. This will take you to Craigend Castle where you can follow the path to Mugdock Castle and finally walk around Mugdock Loch before heading back to the visitor centre for some homemade lentil soup.
The park also offers a wide variety of activities and events for children and adults. From orienteering and trail runs to BBQs, play parks and craft workshops. You can find more information at the official Mugdock website here and organise your weekend in advance!
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