Chatelherault Country Park was built in 1732 as the hunting lodge and summer house for the Duke of Hamilton. It is centred on the former hunting lodge, a folly designed to be seen from the now demolished Hamilton Palace at the end of a broad grass slope forming an avenue with lines of lime trees. The lodge was designed by William Adam and completed in 1734. It comprises two buildings, linked by a gateway, in the form of four pavilions above a garden wall. The hunting lodge now serves as a magnificent gateway to a beautiful Chatelherault Country Park.
The buildings provided kennels, stables and accommodation for hunting parties returning from the woodlands to the south.
Historic Scotland took over ownership of the lodge and began renovating in the late 1970s, including the fine Georgian plasterwork, and a visitor centre was built to the rear.
The ruins of Cadzow Castle lie above the gorge of the Avon Water, which runs to the west of the lodge, and a little further up the path, you will come across the Dukes Monument. This was erected by the people of Hamilton in memory of William 11th Duke of Hamilton in 1863 after he died. The original bronze bust of the Duke is now on display at the visitor's centre at Chatelherault.
Fairholm ford which is now crossed by the Green Bridge in Chatelherault Country Park, is still known locally as "Mary Hosies" due to an incident Mary Queen of Scots had there during her time at the castle. It was here, near the area of ancient woodland that Mary is said to have got her stockings wet after being thrown from her horse into the Avon Water.
There are several walks around the country park, ranging from one mile to 6 miles, the longest of which takes in the high river walk, down some steep steps, over the "Green Bridge" and back up a forest track. The visitor centre provides a coffee shop complete with some sweet treats for the end of your walk. While the walks are great when the weather is good, after a period of prolonged or heavy rain some of the lower paths and the steps down to the Green Bridge can become pretty muddy and slippery. Sturdy waterproof boots are recommended.
The beautiful wooded gorge, with colourful bluebells and wild garlic in spring, is home to Dippers, grey wagtails, badgers, otters and bats. Contains 10 miles of walks through ancient woodland to the 800-year-old Cadzow oaks - there are wonderful views too. The Cadzow oaks were planted during the time of Robert the Bruce.
After walking around the parkland you can stop off at the visitor centre and exhibition gallery to learn more about the history of Chatelherault, have a coffee and snack in the cafe, browse the formal gardens, and if the children still have energy there is a large adventure playground for them to run around in.