Hamilton to Strathclyde Park - Getting to The Clyde Walkway

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The Clyde Walkway from Hamilton to Strathclyde Park.

This has taken an age to publish. It's gone through many versions and many edits. From sections to one massive post to finally this. Broken down into parts that make sense to me. I'll link each part together as and when I publish them.

The Clyde Walkway had been on my list for a while. Well parts of it had been. With a full day to myself I decided to get the bus to Hamilton and walk the  home. To say I should have checked the time-table earlier is an understatement because in my rush to pack my rucksack and get out the door in time I forgot the map sheets I had printed off. To be honest I was hoping not to use them but I had never walked the path before so I wasn't sure how well it was sign posted. I just wanted a little of insurance, just in case.

There was a fair few stops before I reached Hamilton bus station. Larkhall, Ferniegair and few others. I used that time to plot out a route on ViewRanger on my phone and to download the map tiles should I have needed them.

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Hamilton to Strathclyde Loch.

After arriving at the bus station instead of heading straight down to Strathclyde Loch I took a little detour and headed to the Parish Church to have a look at the Netherton Cross. An ancient 10th Century carved stone cross. Which used to stand in the Low Parks near to the old palace grounds on the other side of the motorway. I never got very close to it as the gates were locked and I couldn't see another obvious way in.

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Despite the disappointment of the gates being locked I headed on down to the old Palace grounds past the Hamilton Library and the Hamilton Low parks Museum. Both of which are definitely worth a visit in their own right. I continued on to what is now a public park to get the path the goes under the M74 motorway and the footbridge that crosses the Clyde. Now the massive palace no longer stands doesn't mean that there isn't any remnants of its grand past. You only have to walk a short way in the old palace grounds when you see the ice cream cone like dome of the Hamilton Mausoleum. I was built by the 10th Duke of Hamilton. It was started in 1842 and completed 5 years after the death of the 10th Duke in 1858. It also holds the record for the longest echo. The Duke and is ancestors are no longer interred there having been moved due to flooding and subsidence. 

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Strange standing stone

Not far from the mausoleum. Is a strange mound and standing stone or a stone just protruding from the mound. I don't remember seeing any information board or anything to give it context. It's there and you can't miss it. It took me an age to find out what it is. Originally I thought it was the site of the early medieval castle or the old collegiate church but it wasn't. They are both close by but situated in two completely different areas within the park. This apparently is part of a long forgotten civic art project, an art installation. It took place at some point during the 1990s.  Other than that I haven't came across any more details. It certainly puzzled me that day. I'm very intrigued to find out what it's purpose was and is. 

Collegiate Church

There is nothing left to see of the Collegiate Church or what is left is under the Palace Sports ground five aside parks which I passed on the way in. The medieval church was still in use after the reformation when it was used as the local parish church for Hamilton. However it stood far too close to the palace and the Duke decide to build the townspeople a new church. It was largely demolished in 1732 except for the crypt and aisle that was used for the Hamilton burials after the new parish church was completed. It was then completely demolished in 1842. All the Hamilton burials were moved to the new mausoleum before being moved again as mentioned above. 

Mote Hill

Another site in the area of interest is a medieval Motte and Bailey site. This what I had thought the standing stone and mound was for. If you are heading to Strathclyde park like I was it's over in the near distance on your left hand side. Tucked away next to the motorway, hidden in a stand of trees. Not much is actually known about this site other than it's substantial earth work and buried archeology. It's scheduled and hopefully in the future we'll find out more about it. 

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Under the M74 and over the bridge

After taking in all the sites of the Palace park I followed the path under the M74 motorway and over the footbridge for my first view of the Clyde and the main subject of the walk. I crossed the bridge, thinking how cool and lazy and slow the water looked. I then took a right and joined the Clyde Walkway properly and started my journey home. 


Footnotes

My route on OS maps

Hamilton Bus station to Strathclyde Park

More photographs from the Clyde Walkway

My flickr album

Amazon Affiliate Links

The Upper Nethan Gorge Woodland Walk

Sometimes it's not all about big hills or long distances sometimes it's about taking your time and looking at what's on your own doorstep. It would appear on the face of things I have an area which is abundant in local signposted walks and ways. One of which brought me to the Upper Nethan Gorge. Literally right on my doorstep. Not 10 minutes from my door. It's one of two, The Upper Nethan Gorge up at Blackwood and the Lower Nethan Gorge down towards Nethanfoot and Crossford on the River Clyde. Both of the areas are looked after and managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. They are also within the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership project boundary.

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Dalzell Park

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Dalzell Park, the good, the bad and the beautiful.

I recently had the chance to go on a guided walk around Dalzell Park in Motherwell. The walk was run by The Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership (CAVLP) as part of their spring walks festival. It was an excellent morning out with two very knowledgable guides from North Lanarkshire's Countryside Rangers. I really do wish I had taken better notes or recorded the information and stories told. I also wish I had taken more photographs but found it hard as I was too intent on listening and following someone else lead. However it did not take away from such a great time. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Below are some of my highlights from around the park and hopefully I've got most of right. Dalzell_Park_DSC4301

Dalzell House.

Now a private residence after being sold on by the council a few years ago so we didn't access to get a closer look at the court yard and the splendid terraced gardens. It's an A listed building and has had most if not all it's important heritage preserved. A castle or defensive structure has apparently been on the site since the 9th Century. What you see today is mix of construction phases. The oldest being the tower in the centre, this dates from the 14th/15th century. The next phase is to the right and was added in the late 17th century and the the final phase on left was added in the 18th century. It's been around and has seen many a distinguished guest, most notably Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as well as William Gladstone.

No proper castle is complete without a ghost story well Dalzell House is a bit spoiled for choice as it can boast no fewer than 3 ghosts. A green lady, a white lady and a grey lady. Hopefully I remember the right details for each ghost. The grey lady is supposed a nurse from when the house was a hospital during to after the First World War. The green lady is  of oriental origins or descent as there whiff of oriental perfume when she's about. Finally the white ghost was a maid servant who got herself into trouble and rather than face the consequences threw herself off the tower. All that might make you think twice about living in one of the luxury apartments. Dalzell_Park_DSC4305

The Covenanter's Oak.

Possibly the oldest living thing in North Lanarkshire. Supposedly planted by David I around 1450 and around the same time as the Cadzow oaks across the Clyde. It has seen better days and despite appearances is still going strong. It's been braced and supported to keep it going hopefully for another 500 years. There's a couple of different stories about the Covenanters, they either carried out sermons under great tree or sheltered below it. Either way the Hamiltons of Dalzell at that time were supporters of the cause and ended up losing a lot of their lands because of it. Probably one of my favourite things in Dalzell Park just for it's sheer majesty.

The Arboretum.

I'll admit to being a big ignorant here. I thought and arboretum was a fancy greenhouse of sorts, oh how wrong was I. However as they say, you learn something new everyday. Well this was my new thing. An arboretum is basically a collection of trees. Yep, you're not going to fit them in a greenhouse. This on in Dalzell Park has North American Sequoias, including one that they have managed to germinate from a cone using an oven. As Sequoias need raging forest fire to let their seeds drop. It also has many Yew trees more than I've seen in one garden. Maybe they were planting with zombie apocalypse in mind. Not just Scottish Yews either, they have specimens from all over the world. This is where it gets fuzzy with the tree stuff as the only other one I can remember is the Weeping Willow but there is lots of other trees. I promise. If trees are your thing go have a look.

The Phoenix Project.

Again I hope I get this correct on part of Dalzell Park, the Countryside Rangers and Phoenix Futures have been working on a project called Recovery through Nature. It's all about helping people get rehabilitated and back on a even keel by helping out on nature projects. At Dalzell Park they've been working on clearing away rhododendron bushes and restoring some of the vistas the park had originally when the gardens were laid out. They also been involved in planting through out the park. Replacing trees and the like. Really worthwhile and great to hear about. Dalzell_Park_DSC4315

The Listening Cave.

At the back of the house opposite the terraced gardens and across the Dalzell burn, I think it's called that. There are a few that run through the park. You find just through the old bowling green, yes they had their own bowling green as well as a curling pond down by the Clyde and I'm sure one of the Rangers said a cricket pitch however I could be making that up. Anyway if you follow the path you'll find the Listening Cave. Built to amplify the sound of the nearby waterfall and burn. I loved this. It was pretty cool. If you stood in a certain spot it felt like you were actually standing right next to the water. Step a little forward, backwards or either side and it was gone. Brilliant Dalzell_Park_DSC4328

St Patrick's Kirk.

The first christian site in Motherwell and home to the Hamiltons of Dalzell pet cemetery and mausoleum. The church no longer stands having fell into disrepair and ruin after being abandoned in the late 1700s. The graveyard however was used for many years after the church was left. The Hamiltons used the stone work from the ruined church for the mausoleum. Compared to the one down at the old palace grounds and Lord Belhaven's just south along the Clyde this one is really understated. Bordering on the modest.

There's been a lot of work carried out here by North Lanarkshire Council, CAVLP and the Phoenix Futures group to stabilise and rebuild the cemetery walls as well as protecting the mausoleum from vandalism. Next on the list is the graves and the yard themselves. Cleaning it up and fixing any headstones that can be. Also recording the names of those interred there for a local history project. Dalzell_Park_DSC4337

Lord Gavin's Temple.

Built for Lord Gavin Hamilton as a summer house it used to have a brilliant bright copper dome to crown it off. It allowed him to spend his time reading and smoking his cigars while watch over his wife's grave down at the family mausoleum. He was either being very romantic or very scared that she would come back from the dead. Personally I hope he was being romantic.

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The Japanese Garden.

This has been moved two or three times. One of the original places was down between St Patrick's well and Lord Gavin's Temple. You can still see some of the traces there. The current Japanese garden has new pagodas. Not sure that's the proper term. It's been laid out to match the Buddha temple at Nagasaki. Well one of them was, not sure if it's the current one or the original one. It's full of oriental planting, Japanese Maples and rock gardens. It's a really tranquil and beautiful place to wander round. In full bloom I think it will be stunning.

All in all it was a great morning's walk. Full of information and wonder. If I get the chance and have the time I would definitely go on another guided walk and take better notes and more photographs!

You can look at the full set of photographs here on Flickr, Dalzell Park Photo Album.

If you have any questions, as always leave a comment below. Get me over on Twitter or you can send me an email through the contact me page.

Blackhill

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Blackhill

I've moved to pastures new a while ago, further into South Lanarkshire. Deepest darkest Lanarkshire, back to the countryside. Or almost so, if it wasn't for the rather large M74 next to the village. However saying that it's all green fields, hills, woods and little glens nestled down next to the Nethan and a stones throw from the Clyde valley and all that it offers. A happier pig in mud could not be found and to my great delight was some pretty good hills not so far away. Tinto and Culter Fell being a couple of big ones within easy driving distance but also some hills virtually on my doorstep. One of those hills being Blackhill. It dominates the sky line because it's so close. I see it everyday. Not the biggest by any stretch of your imagination. It stands at 951 of your good Scottish feet or 290 metres in the new money. A Scheduled Ancient Monument as well as being owned by the National Trust for Scotland. It's not big and it's not pretty but Blackhill is my local hill and at times I have it to myself. What's not to like? Blackhill000016051214

Why's it so special?

That's easy. It's has over 4000 years of history seeping up through the very grass and rocks of it's sides. On the top under the OS trip pillar lies a Bronze age burial cairn. I'm not sure of it's size but it's pretty big. 20 metres across. Next it's has an Iron Age fort and settlement attached with a number of platforms that could have been wooden round house. The fort and adjoining settlement take up the entire hill top. There's ditches and protective walls running round the whole summit. There's possibly a Roman road that runs across the foot of the hill that may have been part of a road that ran from Peebles to Castledykes on the other side of Lanark over to the Irvine valley down to Loudoun Hill. There's archaeological records of standing stones. Apparently at one point it had a couple of standing stones, possibly three. One stone to the south at Clarkston Farm and definitely one but maybe two on the north side at Blackhill Farm. As well as evidence of Medieval occupation and field systems. It's all going on. The National Trust have had it in their possession since 1936 when Messrs Robert Howie and Sons donated it to them and because of all the history it was designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument in 1969. 20150216000003Blackhill

The View

For this particular visit I had a bit of spare time and it was a crackingly clear afternoon and I fancied catching a sunset. I grabbed my camera and jumped in my walking gear. It's only roughly a couple of miles from my house but to maximise my hill time I got in the car and set off for the little layby at the bottom of the hill. Once parked up I promptly marched to the top off the hill which started with a hop over a fence and stile. Then it was just a case of heading upwards following a farm track. There's a big gate to pass through then your in the enclosure from this side you enter the settlement first and it's pretty obvious from the trig pillar where you're heading. Like it's not the biggest or most challenging but once up it pays you back in spadefuls for the little effort you put in. Blackhill000065051214

The sunset was still probably a good hour off so I dumped by bag at the pillar and take out my down jacket and hat as it's a bit baltic on top. There's a good breeze going and it is December. What is lovely winter sunshine down by the road isn't warm enough to heat up even at the top of this modest hill. Wrapped up I set of an wonder over the lumps and bumps wondering what it looked like before loads of the stone were robbed and the walls collapsed. Where the standings were. Were they lined up with something. Did they have anything to do with the fort or settlement. Trying to guess the path of the Roman through the much plowed fields. I've got my camera and I'm snapping away. The view's are 360.

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I still don't really have my bearings when it come to the hills I can see from here. Tinto is the obvious one, due south or there abouts. Apparently the massive cairn there and here are in alignment. It could be something or nothing or just a giant coincidence. With the trig pillar to my back, Lanark in a south easterly direction, I can only think it's the big peaks of Mount Law, Bleak Law, Byrehope Mount and the rest I can see but I'm not sure. Over towards the west and to the south I can see Nutberry Hill, again I think it is. It's all a bit alien to me. Supposedly further over to the west you can see Goatfell on a really clear day. That is one view I would love to catch.

By far the best view is to the north and west. It's an amazing view and one my camera skills can't quite do it justice, yet, I hope I will learn to. The Clyde valley opens up before you. All the big towns are there. Hamilton, Motherwell and Wishaw. As well as the famous big city of Glasgow. It's beyond them that really takes your breath away. I have in one big swathe, the Arrochar Alps, The Cobbler and Beinn Ime and Narnian. Ben Lomond and it's distinctive table like top, at ease standing proud. Then the full length of the Campsies. However it doesn't stop there, the hills of the Trossachs and all the way to Ben Lawers. I'm pretty sure it's Lawers. There is nothing taller then me in that direction. I have that feeling of being on the top of the world. I'm the only person here and the only one seeing this. I'm in deepest Lanarkshire and I can see all the way to the Southern Highlands. An absolutely stunning view for such a small bump. It's special. I don't think I will tire of this outlook. Yes, there's turbines, towns and city in the road but brain filters those out. Maybe they actually help the view be better, making the hills and the natural stand out against the concrete and the man-made.

The Clyde herself is not to be out done. Up close she's brown, fast flowing and a little bit tumultuous but from up here she's serine, a silver blue steel metal ribbon winding a path to the sea

Best for last

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After my wanderings and musing I start to try and take some selfies. Not so easy with a dSLR or so I find. I'm a proponent of the @DavyWA, @petesy, @MThomson, @Rye1966 school of the outdoor selfie. Maybe they'll run classes in the new year. However they do it so much better but it's a good bit of fun. The sun is on it's final leg to setting. Tinto has a crowning of grey cloud and little jacket of snow on his shoulders. It's catching the sun beautifully and try to catch it the camera. Again I don't do it justice but I'm happy that I'm there to see. Lanark too is looking pretty on the other side of the Clyde. Rooftops, church spires and glinting windows catching the last rays of the sun. Glasgow and the towns to the north are the same. The light is great. It's crisp like the air. I can see mist gathering over towards the Stonehouse and Larkhall. It may over the Avon water. The river and the woods catching it and holding onto it. I'm looking north again and sure it's Ben Lawers catching the sun, way, way, way north. Has to be. I turn west and watch the Nethan gorge turn dark as the sun hits the hills. The street lights of home start to light up and burn orange. By pure luck I turn right instead of left to circle round and look at Lanark again. I catch a sight that drops my jaw. The moon is rising over the hills. I have the top of the moon peeking above one set of hills and the sun disappearing over another set of hills. It's almost perfectly aligned. Where I'm standing I'm the only person that can see this. I don't know if I should take photographs or just watch. In the end I just watch and try to take photographs at the same time. Then it's over. That special moment. The sun has gone and the moon is up. I linger on a bit in disbelief. I've never seen a sunset/moonrise as good as that ever. Even now I can't adequately describe it. The photographs don't either but I was there. The Blackhill really is a bit special in my opinion and any chance I get I walk up it. It never disappoints.

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You can find a full set of photographs on flickr, Blackhill.

Falls of Clyde - Follow the Badger

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Falls of Clyde - Follow the Badger

We've walked here often at New Lanark but never actually up to the waterfalls. We've always just wandered round the old mills and the housing blocks. Small always seemed just too small and the distance a bit too far for her short legs and it wasn't ever the terrain for the pushchair. Well things have changed, Small is not so small anymore and she's started primary school so we ventured back up to New Lanark and to have a look at the linns (Scots for waterfall). A wee bit of background for those that don't know. The Fall of Clyde comprise of 4 linn. Bonnington Linn which is about 30 feet and is part of a hydro-electric scheme, Corra Linn which is by far the highest at over 80 feet as well as having it's own webcam which is good to have a view after there's been some heavy rains. Dundaff Linn with a fall of about 10 feet. Those 3 all lie above New Lanark. The 4th a final waterfall is Stonebyres Linn which lies a few miles down the water past the village of Kirkfieldbank with in what was once the polices of the old Stonebyres Estate. It as now the site of one of the oldest hydro-electric power stations in the UK. The first 3 falls all lie within the Falls of Clyde Reserve managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

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Late and unseasonably warm autumn sunshine.

We pulled in at the car park after lunch at the top of the hill as we always do in some really fine late and unseasonably warm sunshine. A quick change of footwear and we were off down the hill. Follow the badger is what the sign said and follow the badger is what we did. Heading off down the steep path to New Lanark. Robert Owen's masterpiece of utopian socialism. It's a great path to walk down towards the hotel, houses and the mills especially in the glorious yellow sunshine. Everything opens up below you and provides you with a great view up and down the river Clyde. Today was a really good day for that view so much so the sunglasses were on. Normally unheard of at this time of year in Scotland.

At the bottom of the steep hill next to the small church and the war memorial the hunt for the next badger begun. Which direction was he/she going to point us in. I actually have no idea how you tell from the picture if it is a boy or girl. Small asked and I had just to shrug my shoulders as we looked. Spotting the badger sign quickly we followed on as indicated. Towards the big mill buildings. Badger, badger where are you. Ah, there you are. Not so hard for Small, now that she knew what to look for. This one was over next to a cart selling of all things, ice cream. in the outdoors, in Scotland during autumn or what was meant to be autumn. T-shirts and sunglasses. In previous years on the same weekend I've been hunkered down on hills against the wind or soomin' like a droont rat. Crazy.

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Again onwards in the direction of the badger. Only this time the signposts had changed. Either that or we had missed the badger! At nearly 5 an just learning reading is not yet a strong point so with a little help we pointed Small the right way. Through the wall and on into the woods. Past the furthest we had gone before on previous visits. Now buggyless things were easier. Where lo and behold we too much excitement another badger picture. Unbeknown to us it would be the last one as again the signposts would change.

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Into the woods we go.

This last badger was on an information board and part of a set of the dos and don'ts of the trail and also a very informative guide to what you can see as you make your way along the path. We took our time and went through it for Small's benefit so she knew what to look for and lot's of warnings on another board. Steep cliffs, dogs on leashes, children under close control, responsible mountain biking and don't enter into the gorge due to the hydro schemes. Basically be good. The best bit being all the things you can find in the woods; aik, birk, rowan (the tree), loads of other trees, a varied variety of mushrooms which all look great to eat but wouldn't dare and all sorts of woodland creatures and florer and fauna. Now armed with the knowledge of what to look out for Small struck ahead leading the way along the path.

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All was well walking along enjoying the sunshine falling through the gaps in the trees dappling the trail. Until we came to a fork in the road. Decision time follow the red marker or the blue marker. No on our 4th or 5th different style of sign. I do think some sort of consistency would be good for signage. I know that the place is managed both by New Lanark world heritage site and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. It would be good if they were on the same page. Red was for the riverside walk and blue was the woodland walk or the alternative route should the Clyde be in spate either naturally or because of the hydro plant. Which will still get you to the viewing areas. Already of thinking of another visit after some heavy rains to see the linns especially Corra in full flow. Red it was as we did come to see the waterfalls.

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Following the right hand fork we dropped down to the water's edge and on to a wooden causeyway. The water on the river here looks deceptively slow here till you see it pouring over the weir. Where it runs at such a tumult. Standing watching the water run and listen to the noise. I noticed in an eddy of slow water next to us a wee broon troot sook a fly or something from the surface and the tiniest of splashes as it kicked its tale as it turned back to the river bottom. There were a couple no more than a few inches long. I pointed them out to Small but she was only seeing the surface of the break. Forgetting I had my sunglasses on which was cutting out the sun's glare on the water. The benefits of polarized lenses. I gave them over to Small so she could see. I'm pretty sure fish weren't mentioned on the information board but I could be wrong. After we had watched the fish a bit we walked on to find yet another different sign post, by this time I had lost count. This one was pointing towards the Bonnington Linn Power station.

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Corra Linn

This is where the path starts to climb up again away from the river and away from the Bonnington Linn Power station. Corra Castle is hard to see in all the trees but still stands proud but ruinous on the high cliffs on the opposite side of the river here. The large pipes painted green and covered in moss merge in to the woods. The path climbs on to the view point of the river's most majestic daughter. Wordsworth he's not but sometimes and probably got this about right. This is probably the best spot on the whole walk if the rivers are running heavy. I'm sure of that.

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Now it was a case of following the path even higher and onto the Bonnigton waterfall itself. At times here, walking along the path would give you the fear especially with a small person who has no fear, intent on climbing up on railings for a better view. Or poking her head between and leaning out. Not good for the heart. The cliffs must be over 30 metres as the river Clyde here cuts a great gorge here. There high enough that peregrine falcons come to nest in the nooks and crannies. You can come and watch them in spring and summer with their chicks. There's even a hide.

Whinging and moaning.

We followed on and came to another view point by this time small was getting a bit fed up or hungry both illicit the same responses. Whinging and moaning, her legs were tired, she was hungry. However all was solved when Mummy Bunten produced a packet of Fruitella chews. It was almost like breadcrumbs. If you walk to here you can have another, once we get to this point you can have one more. This is how we got to the big horseshoe of a waterfall and then passed the old iron bridge and onto the new bridge where the water is diverted for the power station. We stood in the middle of the bridge, basking in the glorious late autumn shine. Looking for more fish and watching the swans and ducks floating. Small resting her tired legs.

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The hill at the end.

After that it was a case of retracing our steps all the way a back and finally all that was left to do was climb back up the big hill  to the car park. The only badgers we saw where pictures and it was the same with the falcons. Next we might just try for the circular route and see how that goes. Plenty of sweets and juice for bribes to get us round might be the order of the day as well. If you're around this neck of the woods pardon the pun. Its well worth a visit to the nature reserve and the Falls of Clyde, anytime of the year.


You can see the full set of photographs here New Lanark/Falls of Clyde Flickr set. I'll add more as time goes by and the visits mount up.

As always feel free to leave a comment in the box below or send me a message through the contact page. Failing that hit me up on Twitter.

Thanks for reading.

Culter Fell, cloudy as hell

Ever since I moved further out into South Lanarkshire I've been looking at walking Culter Fell (pronounced Cooter). I kept going to the circular route that's on the walkhighlands website and also another walker that blogs, James Boulter (@bpackingbongos) posted a walk that he had done recently on Culter Fell.

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Thro' Pathways Rough and Muddy

I keep finding myself drawn back to this place. The place I've walked countless times. I think it's because I feel I have to document these walks for myself. Now that I write and take photographs so that I will have some record of them. Something ...

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Cairngorm Kippers - yes please

A Cairngorms Weekend Part 3 If you haven't already you can read part 1 here, The Fantastic Four head to Aviemore? and part 2 here, Am Fear Liath Mor - The Grey Man and remember this how I remember it, not necessarily how that others do. I slept an...

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The Fantastic Four head to Aviemore?

A Cairngorms Weekend Part 1 As I always say, this is how I remember it an not necessarily how my good companions do. For that you would have to ask them. All thoughts, opinions, conjectures, etc, are mine and mine alone. It was the September weeke...

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