• Heritage Lottery Fund Project

Heritage Lottery Fund Project

A regeneration project for this historic park.

Heritage Lottery Fund Logo

East Renfrewshire Council and Heritage Lottery Fund Park Improvement Project

Over the years some of the park's historic features have been lost or damaged.

This jointly funded project provides the chance to bring in new investment to restore some parts of the park to their former glory and create some new exciting facilities for current and future generations.

Front elevation of proposed improved pavilion

In July 2012, East Renfrewshire Council received Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) funding to improve Rouken Glen Park.  The £2.15 million from HLF and £1 million investment from East Renfrewshire Council was completed in Spring 2016. 

The following documents were prepared:

  • A Master Plan published in February 2012 showing the proposed improvement. 
  • A management plan detailing the management, maintenance and development proposed for the park over the ten year period of 2010-2020.
  • A conservation management plan to guide future conservation activity and management of the important geological, archaeological, historical and biodiversity resource in the park.
  • An Activity Plan published for Rouken Glen Park in February 2012.  The aim of the plan was to ensure that the projects funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund allowed as many people as possible to get involved with Rouken Glen Park's heritage.

These documents are available to download from the related documents section at the bottom of this page.

Pavilion Visitor Centre Exhibition

The Heritage Lottery Fund enabled the following improvements:


Pavilion Visitor Centre

Rouken Glen Pavilion opened in 1910 when it looked out onto park bandstands and Thornliebank House.


The bandstands and the big house are long gone but the Pavilion still offers a place for park visitors to go to:

  • speak to the park rangers,
  • get information about the park,
  • look at the exhibits
  • or simply find a place out of the rain!

Rouken Glen Pavilion is open to the visiting public from 9 am to 5 pm during the summer and 10 am and 4 pm during the winter.

The newly refurbished building re-opened in Autumn 2013.

Play area3

The Pavilion is split into two distinct areas. The large space contains the visitor exhibition detailed above.  A smaller space sectioned off from the main exhibition area, is for organised activities such as Activity Ranger events, training workshops and meetings.  The space is flexible and available for hire to the local community.  For full details about hiring this space, please call the Parks Office on 0141 577 3913.


Pavilion Visitor Centre Exhibition

The visitor exhibition and new interpretation materials has been installed in the Pavilion Visitor Centre to explain the varied heritage of Rouken Glen Park.

The informative and interactive display covers the archaeology, geology, history and ecology of the park and gives visitors - for the first time, a complete overview of this important and immensely popular green space.  It is hoped that the exhibition will generate further interest in the park and encourage more people to get involved in exploring its exciting - but often still hidden, heritage.  Pictures of the exhibition can be viewed in the Pavilion Visitor Centre Exhibition Collage in the Related Documents section at the bottom of the page.

Children's Play Area

The play area is a major attraction for families to come to the park.  Outdoor activity is essential for young children and the benefits of a large play area are that it offers an opportunity for children to play with others and develop socialising skills.

The Children's play area is visible as you enter Rouken Glen from the garden centre or the East Lodge car parks.  It is situated in front of the Pavilion Visitor Centre.  It is a great safe place for children to play under the supervision of their parents or guardians. This is a dog free area and has benches for parents to sit on as the children run free.

A brand new exciting, challenging and inclusive play area was installed in June 2014.  Based around a galleon, it has a wide range of play equipment and different areas - including a quiet-zone and multi-sensory zone - to keep all kids occupied.  Additional cradle swings and a new wheelchair accessible unit were added in November 2014.

Next to the new play area, a double zip wire has been installed.  Also, a new picnic area has been created beside the Pavilion Visitor Centre.

Pictures of the playpark can be viewed in the Playpark Collage in the Related Documents section at the bottom of this page.


Walled Garden

The walled garden dates from the late 1890s - a few decades after Thornliebank House was constructed and the park became a private estate.  Historic Scotland suggests that it was both an ornamental and productive garden.  Whilst much of the original layout of the garden remained, the planting design fundamentally changed from functional kitchen garden to an ornamental sheltered garden.  Despite being less intensively managed, the walled garden is still a quiet and peaceful oasis away from the hubbub of the Pavilion Visitor Centre and boating pond areas.

Under the Heritage Lottery Fund project the walled garden was closed for over a year and re-opened in December 2015.  The re-development included:

  • Removing planting which was inappropriate for a walled garden (e.g. conifer trees)
  • Re-building and re-planting many of the beds, planting thousands of new plants and trees.
  • Laying new accessible paths
  • Re-pointing the walls
  • Providing information on the planting (still to be completed)

We do not allow dogs or cycles within the walled garden area and ask that children are accompanied by a responsible adult.

Boating Pond

The Rouken Glen boating pond started life as the estate curling pond before being turned into a man-made pond in the 1920s.  This extremely popular feature in the park now attracts not only a wide range of waterfowl but also model boats and 'water-walkers'.

The boating pond, or Swan Lake as it is affectionately known to regular park users, is probably one of the most remembered places to visitors of Rouken Glen.  The pond is famous for its resident pair of mute swans as they are the main focus on the pond all year round.  Their breeding cycle and annual brood of cygnets is a daily talking point for our park rangers.

Over the past few years the pond has suffered from excessive pond weed and occasional algal blooms.  Unfortunately a quick, simple solution to eradicating these does not exist.

Remediation included:

  • the use of nutrient binders
  • the planting of wetland habitats around the pond edge
  • encouraging visitors to use healthy food such as birdseed, unfrozen peas and broccoli rather than bread to feed the swans and ducks.

Throught out 2016 and into 2017, the Park Rangers will continue to monitor the pond to ensure the remediation is working.

Refreshments: The Boathouse Cafe is open 8 am - 6 pm every day.  Stop by and enjoy a spot of lunch, a cooling ice cream or a freshly-brewed coffee.

Wildlife: There is a plethora of wildlife to see at the pond any season of the year from frogs to grey heron and tufted ducks.

Glen Path

Running from near the boating pond down to Spiersbridge roundabout is 'the Glen'.  Rouken Glen Park is home to some of the best short walks in the East Renfrewshire area.  The glen (or gorge) follows the Auldhouse Burn and provides an entirely different atmosphere to the more formal areas of the park.

The glen river walk has two parallel paths that sit higher up on the edge of the gorge either side of the Auldhouse Burn.  Both paths are relatively easy walks but do require a certain level of fitness.  These paths are not recommended for wheelchairs or prams. All the glen walks are interconnected to each other by bridges, paths and stepped areas throughout.  Each path takes around a half an hour to walk at a leisurely pace, from one end of the glen to the other stopping at the views and areas of interest.

The paths that wind their way through the glen area take in some of the many interesting features and sites in Rouken Gen Park.  If you start your walk at the rear of the walled garden, going down the steep steps to the lower glen area, cross over the bridge and follow the path along the Auldhouse Burn. This path meanders through the glen leading to the Devils Staircase with its one hundred steps.  As you climb the steps stop to take a breath on the fiftieth step, take a look at the stone on your right hand side and introduce yourself to 'Old Nick' himself.  The stairs take their name from the carved face of a devil found there.  This walk requires a good level of fitness due to the steps involved.  This area is not suitable for prams or wheelchairs.

For many decades, only half of the Glen was accessible as the area was very overgrown and the original 'lover's walk' footpath had disappeared.  In the past this area provided opportunities for peace and contemplation and an opportunity to observe nature as the area contains the remnants of the park's industrial heritage with a system of weirs and waterfalls controlling the water flow that powered cotton and linen factories in Thornliebank.  The Heritage Lottery Fund project enabled the reinstatement  of the 'lover's walk' and extended the Glen Path from the main park entrance to the rear of the walled garden, giving an additional c600m of path which opened in April 2016.

Park Entrance

The main park entrance (at the garden centre) was not originally an entrance to the park but became the main entrance when Rouken Glen Road was built in the 1980s and commercial uses (including the garden centre) started operating in the park.  Since then a five-a-side football complex has also been established in the park.

Whilst most park users are familiar with the park, feedback received indicated that some people didn't realise that there was a park behind the garden centre!   This strongly suggested that we needed to do something to improve access and signpost the park.

The Heritage Lottery Fund project, works have:

  • widened the entrance
  • extended the footway
  • built a new footpath leading directly into the park
  • improved traffic management giving priority to pedestrians
  • erected stone pillars similar to those at the East Lodge entrance to highlight the main entrance


Unknown to most people who visit, Rouken Glen Park it is one of the most important geological sites in Scotland and part of the Glen is designated a SSSI - a Site of Special Scientific interest.  The reason for this is that the area contains the only surviving exposures of the fossil-rich Orchard Beds in the Glasgow Basin.  These are Lower Carboniferous in age (about 325 million years old) and were formed during a brief period of marine conditions, when Scotland was close to the equator!  As such these rocks contain a diverse assemblage of marine fossils.

As part of the Heritage Lottery Fund project we worked with Scottish Natural Heritage and geologists from the University of Glasgow to improve the status of key rock exposures in the SSSI to allow the resource to be managed sustainably in the future.

In addition, located throughout the park are other geological wonders including rocks showing evidence of the ice age and fossilised trees.  For more information about the park's geology refer to the Site of Scientific Interest.


Although much of Rouken Glen Park is managed as a formal park, it is still a very valuable urban greenspace and home to a rich variety of plants and animals.  The park contains a wide range of biodiversity from bats to bees, orchids to oyster catchers. Especially in the wilder, less visited areas of the park, there is a range of habitats that suit all kinds of creatures.  In particular the park is very popular with birds and in the past decade over 80 different species have been spotted by the park rangers.

Despite this seeming abundance of wildlife, the plants and animals are constantly under threat from human activity and climate change.  It is therefore important that we survey and record the biodiversity of the park and ensure that the habitats are protected and enhanced wherever possible.  The latest park surveys are available on our Wildlife pages

The Heritage Lottery Fund project enabled volunteers to clear invasive bamboo, himalayan balsam and invasive rhodedendrons and replacement planting of native plants.  Other improvements included:

  • an amphibian pond
  • wild flower planting
  • bulb planting in the Glen
  • installation of bat boxes
  • installation of bird nesting boxes

Planned Improvements include leaflets for park visitors on the rich variety of flora, fauna and trees.

If you enjoy getting up close with nature and would like to learn more about the flora and fauna in the park why not help conserve the park's rich environment by signing up to be a volunteer. For details, please check out the 'Volunteering' tab at the top of this page.

Archaeology and History

In addition to its natural resources, the area of Rouken Glen Park also has a long history of human activity.  From pre-historic cup and ring marks to a medieval dovecote to a 19th century water system designed to power local mills there is a wealth of archaeological remains in and around the park pointing towards the importance of this area to human cultural development over the centuries.

Historically, we can trace back to 1530 when James V presented lands around 'Rockandmyll' to Lord Eglinton; pre-dating this in the early 12th century King David I granted most of the lands in this area to Roland de Mearns.

More recently, the mansion house was commandeered by the army during WW2 and the park was used as a location in the film 'Trainspotting'.

With such a diverse history, the park can rightfully claim a special place in Scottish chronicles. A number of local historians have researched the history of the park and the wider area and have published material and given talks on the subject.

Like the geological interest in the park, much of the archaeology and history was unknown to visitors - covered in vegetation and unrecorded.

As part of the Heritage Lottery Fund project we researched, recorded and excavated some of the park structures to interpret the information for visitors. East Renfrewshire Council worked in partnership with Archaeology Scotland and their survey and excavation reports will be available to the public by Summer 2016.


Old and weathered sign posts have been replaced.  New information boards have been installed with a new logo specifically for Rouken Glen Park.


Path Lighting has been installed along the footpath connecting the Pavilion Visitor Centre to the East Lodge and main car parks.  This will allow the Pavilion Visitor Centre to be used more in the winter.

Power Connection

Details on the Events page within the What's On section.

Outdoor Gym

An 11 piece outdoor gym was installed.  Details in the Facilities section.