Tag Archive: Clyde

Glasgow, Kyle and Galloway

I loved this book. It’s one of a series of guides to Scotland (The Queen’s Scotland, edited by Theo Lang), pointing out points of interest in as many towns and villages as the author can cram in. But it’s also approximately 60 years old. It’s like an old postcard: outdated but from a time so close to ours that you can almost touch it. My parents were at school when this book was researched and written: this is genuinely living history.

I know a lot of the places in the book, and the changes in the landscape are scary. Where the book describes green fields cut by sparkling burns, there’s now concrete jungles; where the book discusses prehistoric antiquities and the remains of medieval mottes, there’s now housing estates. Some if the prehistory has survived, but much of it is in the museums.

And it’s not just the landscape.

In the book, the Clyde is a river full of shipping being built and docks taking goods all over the world. All gone now. In the book, Kilmarnock in Ayrshire is described as the perfect town that could never lose its industry because it was so varied. There’s none left.

On the other hand, places that I know as smart and elegant are described in the book as filthy and black. Industry has gone, but it’s taken a lot of the pollution with it. It’s not all bad.

And of course, there’s that voice from the past describing places I’ve never been to yet, and telling me stories I’ve never heard of places I thought I knew well. It’s a voice full of affection for its subject, even the grimy bits, and I can’t wait to get out and about to explore with my brand new 60 year old eyes.

There are six books in the Queen’s Scotland series, all published in the 1950s, but Nigel Tranter updated the books in the 1970s, visiting all the places involved all over again.

Bliss 🙂



According to Janet and Colin Bord,

… there are  numerous examples of river names which contain or were derived from Celtic deity names … The Clyde comes from Clota, the ‘Divine Washer’. (Scottish tales of a hag washing the bloody clothes of those shortly to die, called ‘The Washer at the Ford’, may be a memory of this goddess.)

Janet and Colin Bord, Sacred waters, Paladin 1985, p14 

Clyde Panorama

Just discovered a wonderful little website aiming to show a panorama of the whole of the Clyde from its source right through to the Firth.

Its called Panorama of the Clyde, and only a few pieces have been included so far.You can join a mailing list for updates.

My only minor issues are that that you never really know where you are at any given point, and there’s no control over the panorama, but since it’s still a work in progress, I’m sure that will be fixed later. It’s a wonderful idea.

I always take loads of pictures when I’m out and like to find out about what I’ve actually photographed 🙂 So following our walk to Cambusnethan Priory I’ve been checking out old maps looking at the how the estate has changed over the years.

Fields can often be useful in helping transfer the location of a place on an old map onto the modern map, as their boundaries often remain, even if it’s just by treelines. And it’s always worth following the lines of paths around the estate as paths usually lead somewhere, and most of them have vanished under ploughing or vegetation. Sometimes you can see the ghosts of the routes on Google or Bing aerial views, especially with the angles available on Birds Eye View.

The earliest maps don’t show a lot of detail but there are plenty of roads and paths around, including the one below, which shows a ford across the Clyde from a road leading down from the estate. This road has disappeared under the ploughed field.

From William Forrest's map of 1816, NLS

The road on the southern side still exists, and leads onto the A72 Lanark Road.

There’s a bridge close by from which you can see the remains of the ford, although it’s obviously impossible to tell from pictures just how deep the water is now. Since the ford is still marked on the most detailed OS maps, it should be fairly shallow.

I was also confused by a sign at the Priory which showed the Clyde Walkway going in two different directions (other than up and down the Clyde) . Fortunately there are a series of guides to the Clyde Walkway, which point out that there are summer and autumn routes here to avoid seasonal flooding. So that’s a job for another day.

Bothwell Castle and the Clyde

The first dry Sunday in ages, so we went for a wander round Bothwell Castle with friends. Their first visit, but we’ve been plenty of times, so it was interesting watching the kids giving them the grand tour.


Bothwell Castle sits right on a bend in the Clyde, with Blantyre Priory on the opposite bank (although the latter it’s almost completely destroyed). Great defensive location on three sides, and a steep hill up from the river on part of the landward side, and multiple towers were planned for the least protected area. It was a pretty secure site.

And then of course, along come the Wars of Independence and Bothwell is slap bang in the firing line.