I’m reading a book originally written in the 1930s called The Clyde: the elusive river by George Pratt Insch. It’s a little wordy for my taste – not every noun requires four or more adjectives. His title refers to his opinion that the Clyde was hidden from view for much of its length, whether by natural barriers or by industry. Not being around in the 1930s, I can’t comment, although it seems unusual that you couldn’t look over the bridges.

Mr Insch obviously knows the Central Belt and its history pretty well, which can be frustrating at times when he makes passing references to various locations as he blithely passes through without providing details. It’s particularly annoying when he refers to “the old road” when it’s not clear which route he means. For example,

“in winter-time there is no better way than to take the old road over the hill from Lanark to Crossford … I left the Glasgow bus at Cartland Bridge, and against a strong south-westerly breeze made for the wooded hilltop along which the old road runs.”

Insch, 1946, p92-93

Next time he mentions a location, he’s in Crossford. So which one’s the “old road”?

The most likely candidate seems to be the road that runs through Auchenglen, mainly because the road gets so narrow that it’s basically a path and impassable to cars, but there’s also a path that leads to Lee Castle (home of the Lee Penny) and the Nemphlar Moor Road.

There are times when I’m concerned for Mr Insch’s sanity as he wanders about the hills above the Clyde Valley through November storms, refusing lifts from concerned drivers, until he reaches the “scintillating panorama” that is Larkhall. Hmm. However, when he’s done his homework he’s happy to share it so there’s plenty of historical storytelling for the places he’s less familiar with. I just wish he’d done the same for his home turf rather than assuming we all shared his knowledge.

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