On Monday 24th February I received a phone call from my son Aaron to join him on a gentle stroll along the banks of the Clyde. I must admit to being less than enthusiastic for two reason: the first being that we had walked a section of the walkway three weeks before and I was less than impressed. That section was Garrion Bridge to Strathclyde Country Park, just outside Motherwell. I’m sure in better weather it would have made a greater impression. The second is that I’m a bikeaholic and I was planning to put in a few miles on what looked to be the only decent day of the week. However, I agreed and dutifully picked Aaron up at 9.30am from his home in Carstairs.
Our start point was New Lanark, the impressive World Heritage site which is Mill and model housing complex set up by David Dale and Robert Owen in in the 1780’s. The place illustrates the way Owen strove to find a practical , dignified and humane alternative to the soulless drive for profit by his capitalist contemporaries.
We parked in the car park at the top of the hill and wandered down to New Lanark itself. We went to have a quick look at the SYHA hostel; unfortunately it wasn’t open. However we did get a look at the row of tenements that have received a large grant for their renovation. We then progressed to the Walkway itself.
Initially we followed a path close to the river which was well in spate. The path soon petered out under a substantial cliff and we could clearly see the path above us. It would have taken climbing skills that I have long lost to reach the path. So it was a case of retracing our steps and climbing the road to the start of our journey. Moral: make sure you have a map with you and don’t rely on memory or a GPS map.
Once on the Walkway the surface was excellent and dropped rapidly down to a view point we could clearly see from our aborted start. The view back along the river included the impressive mill buildings. From there the path took us through some pleasant woodland showing a carpet of snow drops, a clear indication that spring is on its way and the appalling winter is on its way out. At Castle Bank the path climbs to a quiet back road which we followed for about half a kilometre, past the sewage works to Clydesholme Bridge, where we crossed the river to Kirkfield Bank. After a kilometre of pavement walking we recrossed the river at the footbridge just below Linnville. The bridge passed over a weir that was absolutely spectacular with the river in spate as it was today. Only a few more steps took us to the equally impressive Stonebyres Falls. Unfortunately the amount tree cover conspired to prevent us taking any worth while photographs.
The path now became extremely muddy, making me regret not taking walking poles with me. The route was well fenced along the steep sided banks of the river, offering us plenty of security on this section of the walk. After a further half kilometre we came to the rather uninspiring power station, that we were expecting to encounter on this section of the walk. The vista now suddenly became more open with pasture to our right and woodland screening our views of the river. However, the view to the right was far more interesting as we spotted a group of hares hiding in the long grass, quite close to the fence. It is incredible how well camouflaged these animals were. We paused to take photographs and were treated to a most entertaining bout of boxing and general lunatic running around, by these beautiful lagomorphs. No wonder the term “Mad as March Hare” has arisen. Apparently the boxing is nothing to do with males trying to attract a female or establish a pecking order, it is the females putting off over sexed males when she is not ready to mate! The females are able to “punch” great lumps of fur out of the males during this ritual. With the amount of chasing and running that was going on it didn’t seem to put the males off. I bitterly regret not putting the camera on the burst mode or I may have obtained a more comprehensive set of photos of our hares antics.
After spending at least 15 minutes being entertained by these crazy animals we pushed on through Big Wood to Carfin and the Valley International Park. There is a narrow gauge railway here and what looks like a substantial family attraction. We passed on and crossed the bridge into Crossford for a well earned lunch break. I can recommend the Village Post Office where they will prepare freshly cooked bacon rolls and other items of hot food. Retracing or steps to the walkway I noticed some uninspiring flats near the river. However, what was more noticeable, in view of recent wet weather, was that they were built on stilts with a car park underneath. May be companies building on flood plains should take note of a sensible idea!
Once on the route the walk was now a pleasant riverside stroll and it was interesting to note the number of properties built close to the river, some with obvious defenses others just taking a chance. It was along this section that we encountered a considerable landslip, fortunately well away from the path. This just shows how wet this winter has been, even here in Scotland.
At Waygateshaw House the route began to climb through a narrow strip of woodland, on a very muddy path, with a number of trees downed by the winter storms. Continuing through the woodland the way followed the contours, marked by the largest way posts I have ever seen. The local “trolls” had attempted to saw through one, only to give up after just a third the way through. Obviously too much like hard work! However, they had more success pulling the information plaques off the innovative information posts. Typical brainless vandalism!
After negotiating the muddy woodland paths we dropped down to open area with Rosebank on the opposite side of the river. It was here that we spotted the unusual site of a Cormorant sitting in a tree. The photos we took were either slightly out of focus or too far away but I have included one nevertheless. Pushing on close to the river for a further kilometre and a half the walk was once again very pleasant, climbing slightly into some woodland. It was here that Aaron was very nearly mugged of his Snickers Bar by a very active Springer Spaniel, obviously as hungry as us. His owner walked with us towards Garrion Bridge saying that the area was well flooded during December, confirmed by a bridge washed several metres from the stream it should have crossed. It was marvelous to watch the ground that our new found friend, the spaniel, covered as we walked along. It would be interesting to put a GPS on a dog like this just to see how much ground it would cover in a days walking. One hell of a lot more than us I would guess!
Finally we arrived at Garrion Bridge ten minutes after the bus back to Lanark. The decision was made to walk through to Rosebank, on the road footpath, to find somewhere to have a pint while we waited the hour and a half for the next bus. The two and a half kilometres finally “did me in”, with the walking total just over 14 miles. Some short walk Aaron, and we still had to walk from Lanark to New Lanark in heavy rain that had threatened all day.
The final walking total was 15.3 miles.
This is a great days walk and given another couple of weeks of warm dry weather, with spring flowers and new leaves on the trees , it will be spectacular. If you do it look for the “Mad March Hares”, their antics are most entertaining and the Sand Martins which have nesting holes close to the path . Check the bus times before setting out!
I will leave the scoring of this one to Aaron, but for my mind 8 or 9 out of ten?