Chatelherault Country Park is a modern day visitor attraction, focused around the former hunting lodge and summer residence of the Duke of Hamilton. Designed by the celebrated Scottish architect William Adam, the lodge was completed in 1732. The house had fallen in to a state of disrepair in the years after the demolition of Hamilton Palace in the 1920's but was fully restored in the late 1970's and early 80's to form a combined museum, reception center, cafe, conference and private function establishment. Entry to the grounds and the house is free but certain parts of the house may not be available to view if functions or other events are scheduled at the time of your visit.
The Duke of Hamilton's one time hunting lodge and summer house
How to Get to Chatelherault Country Park
Chatelherault is located just a couple of miles south of the modern day town of Hamilton and about ten miles from Glasgow. It is close to the M74 motorway and provides ample car parking facilities for those travelling by car.
Chatelherault is located on the National Cycle Network
Chatelherault railway station is literally straight across the road and two minutes' walk from the park's main entrance. There are two trains per hour from Glasgow Central and Glasgow Argyle Street at peak times with the journey taking approximately twenty-five minutes. You can also get a bus from Hamilton Bus Station, which is immediately adjacent to Hamilton Central railway station.
Chatelherault Country Park, Carlisle Rd, Ferniegair, Hamilton ML3 7UE, UK
Arriving at Chatelherault Country Park
Main entrance to Chatelherault Country Park
If you are arriving at the park by car, you should drive in through the main entrance and follow the road on an approximate dog's leg course (bending to the right) for just a couple of minutes to the car parking facilities.
Footpath is clearly signposted when entering the estate
If you arrive by train or by bus, almost immediately after you enter the park on foot, you will see a sign pointing you in the direction of the footpath to the Visitor Center. The walk will take anything from five to ten minutes, depending upon your natural walking speed.
Chatelherault Former Hunting Lodge and Visitor Center Exterior
Approaching the one time hunting lodge
You will marvel at the grandeur of the 5th Duke of Hamilton's hunting lodge when you approach, all the more so when you consider it wasn't even built as a main residence. There was at one time stabling for horses and kennels for dogs, both of which formed part of the hunting parties which would set off from here to roam the estate. It is an excellent example of the opulence of the landed gentry in previous centuries and especially when you turn your attention to the magnificent views you will soon be afforded, you should have no trouble imagining the indulgences of those far off days.
Gates to the lodge's main courtyard
East wing of the one time hunting lodge
West wing of the grand one time summer house and hunting lodge
Rear view of Chatelherault house
Views across the Clyde Valley from Chatelherault Country Park
Hamilton Mausoleum can just be discerned in the center of the photograph
If you are visiting Chatelherault Country Park for the first time, try to ensure you do so not only on a dry day but on a clear day. Only in this way can you truly appreciate the stunning views you are afforded when you stand in front of the hunting lodge. Firstly, you should look straight out and down what was once a grand avenue of trees, leading to Hamilton Palace. The palace unfortunately had to be demolished in the early 1920's due to subsidence caused by mining works and it is not difficult to see how much of the terrain has itself subsided. One building you can still see from this vantage point, however, is Hamilton Mausoleum, built by the 10th Duke to contain the remains of his ancestors and descendants. Again, however, due to the subsidence problems, the bodies of the nobility the mausoleum once contained have since been moved elsewhere.
Looking down the one time grand avenue at Chatelherault and in the direction of where Hamilton Palace once stood
Footpaths for visitors are plentiful on the former grand avenue
Looking slightly to the left, you will be looking over Hamilton and towards the Campsie hills beyond. Look right and you will clearly see the tower blocks of Motherwell.
Looking towards the modern town of Hamilton from Chatelherault
View of Motherwell from former hunting lodge
Chatelherault Visitor Center Interior
Convenient sign clearly informs you what you will find in the visitor center
If there is one element of Chatelherault Country Park that did prove a little bit of a let down, it has to be the interior of the old building. Admittedly, some of it was not accessible on this occasion due to private functions but there was still very much a sense of too much restaurant/cafe and visitor shop with not enough interesting exhibits. It may be that on another day that balance can be successfully redressed, or that your personal opinion will differ. The old courtyard, however, is a pleasant, atmospheric place to sit and enjoy a coffee or other refreshment.
Chatelherault visitor center courtyard
James, 5th Duke of Hamilton, commissioned the construction of Chatelherault
Cadzow White Cattle at Chatelherault Country Park
Stuffed white cattle in the visitor center
The white Cadzow cattle which can usually be found grazing at Chatelherault Country Park have become one of the location's top visitor attractions since they were returned to the Park in the late 1980's. Only two herds of these rare cattle remain, anywhere in the world. On the occasion of this visit, advice was sought from visitor center staff, a groundskeeper, as well as several locals walking through the park as to where the cattle could be found grazing on that particular day, with different answers obtained in each instance. Unfortunately, more than an hour was spent fruitlessly wandering around the one time grand avenue in an attempt to find the elusive beasts and the only two ultimately encountered were the stuffed ones in the Visitor Center.
Only sheep were seen grazing in Chatelherault's extensive grounds
It would be nigh on impossible to see and enjoy all that Chatelherault has to offer in one day, due simply to its size. Over and above the elements featured on this page, you may want to take one of the ranger guided walks through the grounds and see the beautiful scenery of the Avon Valley, or visit the historic ruins of the 16th century Cadzow Castle. The park is definitely worth a visit - especially on a nice day - for anyone who happens to be in the area and is of course conveniently close to many other Lanarkshire attractions if a series of visits are to be combined.