Location and Access
Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park, in west central Scotland, extends from Greenock in the north down the Clyde coast to Inverkip, Largs and West Kilbride in North Ayrshire and inland to Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire.
(Editor’s Note: This Park covers three local authority areas: Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and North Ayrshire. If you are submitting records from a visit to the Park, please check which area you are in and send them to the appropriate County Recorder).
The Park covers over 100 square miles of magnificent countryside that includes mixed woodland, moorland, lochs, wetlands and coastline ideal for seeing a wide variety of birds.
A day trip could take in three habitats (wetland, woodland and moorland) by combining a trip to the RSPB Lochwinnoch reserve with a walk in Parkhill Wood (part of Castle Semple Country Park) and a visit to Muirshiel Visitor Centre and Country Park. (Lochwinnoch is just north of Beith, North Ayrshire on the A737)
- Castle Semple Loch/RSPB Lochwinnoch: Great Crested Grebe, Black-headed Gull, good wintering wildfowl e.g. Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser, Water Rail.
- Parkhill Wood: spring/summer – Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler on lochside
- Muirshiel: Tree Pipit, Spotted Flycatcher, Raven, Stonechat, Wheatear, Dipper, Grey and Pied Wagtail, Red Grouse, Cuckoo. Possible: Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Short-eared Owl. Hen Harrier CCTV viewing project with guided walks and dedicated Project Officer runs April to August.
Or stop in a car park on the A78 Largs coast road at the mouth of he Noddsdale Water before heading up Brisbane Glen to the open moorland of the Renfewshire Heights SSSI (confirmed in January 2007 for its breeding Hen Harriers) and native woods of Shielhill Glen and the Park’s Cornalees Visitor Centre (Inverclyde).
A Countryside Ranger Service works throughout the Regional Park covering education, conservation and access promotion. There is an information desk, gift shop, toilets, woodland walks and nature trails at each Visitor Centre as well as an event lists that includes outdoor activity courses and taster sessions, children’s activities, guided walks, green-wood working displays and exhibitions.
- Resident breeding species:
- Finches (Chaf, Bull, Green, Gold, Linnet); Tits (Great, Blue, Coal); Thrush (Song, Mistle); Blackbird, Robin, Meadow Pipit, Pheasant, Red Grouse, Grey Partridge, Owl (Tawny, Barn, Short-eared); Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Hen Harrier, Curlew, Woodcock, Common Snipe, Stonechat, Kestrel, Stock Dove, Cuckoo, Lapwing, Common Sandpiper, Wagtail (Pied, Grey); Tree Sparrow, Treecreeper, Siskin, Redshank, Swift, Skylark, Carrion Crow, Rook, Raven, Jackdaw, Wren, Dipper, Eider, Sedge Warbler, Grasshopper Warbler, Linnet, Redpoll, Reed Bunting, Dunnock.
- Resident (but non-breeding)
- Dunlin, Long-eared Owl (formally breeding)
- Winter visitors
- Greylag Goose (now also breeding in small numbers), Fieldfare, Redwing, Crossbill, Shelduck, Bar-tailed Godwit.
- Occasional visitors
- Waxwing, Red Throated Diver, Shoveler, Pink Footed Goose, Barnacle Goose, Osprey, Peregrine, Merlin, Water Rail, Green Sandpiper, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Redstart, Black Grouse, Brambling, Golden Eagle, Red Kite, Nuthatch, Goldcrest.
- Wildfowl and water birds
- Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Goldeneye, Long Tailed Duck, Smew, Red Breasted Merganser, Goosander, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Moorhen, Coot, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Oystercatcher, Common Tern, Sandwich Tern, Guillemot, Black Guillemot, Ringed Plover, Pintail, Wigeon, Redshank, Greenshank.
- Summer migrants
- Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Sedge Warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Wood Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Tree Pipit, Wheatear, Whinchat.
Sites within Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park
Castle Semple Visitor Centre and Country Park
Located in Lochwinnoch, just off the A737 Irvine to Glasgow road on the shores of Castle Semple Loch. Open daily throughout the year with refreshments, and easy access into Parkhill Wood or a stroll along the loch. The Sustrans cycle route from Glasgow to Irvine conveniently passes by the Centre where you can hire mountain bikes or row boats and canoes. Outdoor activity courses and taster sessions such as sailing and kayaking are also available from Castle Semple Centre. Phone 01505 842 882. RSPB Nature Reserve at Lochwinnoch is located nearby.
Muirshiel Visitor Centre and Country Park
Located 6km north-west of Lochwinnoch at the top of Calder Glen, Muirshiel provides access to great walking country and the Renfewshire Heights SSSI. The Clyde Muirshiel Hen Harrier Viewing Project is based at the Centre, with a dedicated Project Officer in post April to August. There are woodland and moorland walks, BBQ and archery sites. Grid reference NS 19 630. Phone 01505 842 803
Cornalees Visitor Centre and Loch Thom
Located near Inverkip beside Loch Thom at the top of Brisbane Glen, Cornalees provides a great access point to the Greenock and Kelly Cuts for level walks with panoramic views of the Clyde and islands or a wonder in the native wood of Shielhill Glen. Highlights of the Clyde Muirshiel Hen Harrier Project can be viewed at the Centre as well as the resident breeding swallows. Grid reference NS 248 721. Phone 01475 521 458
Located 6km north of Lochwinnoch is the Park Headquarters and is also the location of the Park’s attractive rural campsite that includes eight wooden shielings. They sleep -4 people and need to be booked in advance. Telephone 01505 614 791 in office hours or 01505 842 882 at weekends. Woodland walks nearby include a link route to Muirshiel Country Park. Grid reference NS 56 640.
Located 2km north of Inverkip (NS 203 736) is the nearest sandy beach to Glasgow and is popular for coastal walks and a children’s adventure playground as well as sighting of many coastal birds.
ContactClyde Muirshiel Ranger Service
Castle Semple Centre