Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Falls of Clyde.

When the sun comes out in Scotland, you cannot take it for granted. As I mentioned in my trip to Loch Lomond, the weather can change in seconds and you will find yourself soaked to the skin minutes after applying the sun lotion. This means that any time you spot a blue sky it's time to get outside and get some vitamin D!

New Lanark is in South Lanarkshire. It's an 18th century cotton mill on the banks of the River Clyde, founded by David Dale and later run by his son-in-law Robert Owen. New Lanark was very different from other mills at the time as the owners, particularly Robert Owen, actually cared about the workers. They ensured they had decent housing, free healthcare, encouraged education both in the young children and adults living in the village, and implemented a whole host of social reforms to improve the living standards of the workers - including abolishing child labour, limiting the workday to 10.5 hours, and operating a sickness 'insurance' policy in case they couldn't work. Basically, it was a pretty nice place to be working and living - a lot better than a poorhouse anyway! 

The restored mill buildings are now a World Heritage Site, and are a really interesting visit. However, we wanted to enjoy the sunshine and warmth, so we stuck to the great outdoors.

Heading upstream from New Lanark is the Falls of Clyde trail, part of the Clyde Valley Woodlands nature reserve. There's a few leaflets at the start of the walk that you can pick up to give you a bit of a self-guided tour; my favourite was the Victorian-themed one. A lot of the paths and viewing platforms still on the trail today were also loved by the Victorian folk. In fact, the owners of the estate used to allow ticketed access to the trail so that the public could get some of that good ol' Scottish air in their lungs, while enjoying the views.

I love a woodland, I really do. Something about the way the sunshine filters through the trees just looks so beautiful to me, and the Clyde Valley definitely has some lovely woodland. There's loads of beautiful flowers that have been planted along the walkway, and it just felt like summer for the first time this year. It was so pretty that it even took my mind off how much I hate walking, and particularly climbing up steps.

You do have a few short(ish) climbs to contend with if you want to get the best view of Corra Linn, the largest of the waterfalls. It's 84 feet high, and it's really very beautiful to look at. Waterfalls almost have the same effect as fires on me, I get hypnotised just looking at them. Even though the sun was out, it was still in pretty fine flow and looked very impressive. Apparently William Wordsworth visited and called Corra Linn "the Clyde's most majestic daughter", while Turner painted an (in my opinion, not very good but apparently quite famous) interpretation of the scene. Even though I'd almost died by this point already (I'm so unfit, send help) there were loads more steps to drag my body up to get to the top of the trail. How Victorians managed it in all their fancy, heavy clothing, I'll never know.

Because my husband is a sadist, once we got to the top of the valley he made me walk down about 500 more steps to stand basically beside the top of the waterfall. He had a point; it's amazing being that close to so much water crashing around. There were the ruins of Corra Castle on the opposite bank, which amazingly was a family home for 300 years. I'm pretty sure there's no way they could've actually slept though, the noise of the roaring water was practically deafening. When you get close up to the falls you realise just how powerful the water is, and how scary it could be - the paths on the trail were pretty close to the cliff-edge at some points. Probably not as scary as going back up all those steps though...

Eventually we made it to Bonnington Linn, at the end of the trail. It's a lot smaller than Corra Linn but it's equally as beautiful. Because the water isn't crashing down quite so high a drop, it feels a lot more peaceful, and I really enjoyed taking a few minutes to just look around me, and also bask in the sunlight which miraculously was still present.

On the way back, we took a slight detour to go have a look at the Bonnington Pavilion, or Hall of Mirrors. This awesome little building was originally built as a hunting tower, but later became a viewing platform with a beautiful outlook over Corra Linn. At one point it had cleverly placed mirrors on the ceiling (hence the Hall of Mirrors name) that gave visitors the illusion of being surrounded by the waters of the fall. I really wish I could've experienced that, it sounds magical to me. Sadly not this time...

As much as I love the beauty of the natural world, it honestly takes a lot to get me to willingly go for a walk. However I'm so glad I did! I got to see some amazing views, learn a little bit of history, and just generally enjoy a rare sunny day. Living in an urban area like I do, I sometimes forget just how beneficial it is to be out in some green landscapes. The Falls of Clyde trail is so peaceful and such an attractive environment, and I had a really lovely time. Well, up until we got back to New Lanark and I remembered the car park is up yet another bloody great hill...! ;)

What kind of things do you like to get up to when the sun is shining?



  1. So pretty! The pictures are stunning :)

  2. Oh hey, dat me.
    Well, it's what I'm named after haha.
    Sounds like you had a lovely day! All of those stairs though - eek!
    Cora ❤


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