Tag Archive: roads

Crossing the Clyde

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.


The elusive Clyde

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.


The Langcausey was an old road between East Kilbride and Rutherglen. The 1773 Ross map of Lanarkshire clearly shows a road running from Torrance House through East Kilbride, then past Mains Castle over the Cathkin Braes, past Castlemilk House to Rutherglen Main Street.

Unfortunately, Glasgow City Council are building a huge flippin’ landfill right over the top of it (and btw, Guys, can you dump your rubbish in your own back green please?). So it’s a shame that this historic route was ruined for the future – and for me too, cos I only missed being able to walk the whole thing by a year or two. Poor me.

Roman road?

There’s a local tale that it’s actually a Roman road. Naturally this has come about because there are stretches of it that are very straight, and the road was apparently paved, while the majority of local routes were still mud and there’s also known Roman activity nearby, so it’s not an impossible story. The latest excavations suggest that it’s not, although it does seem to have been repaired on a few occasions.

Markethill Road

When the plague raged in Glasgow the people in Kilbride, and in the neighbouring parts of the country would not approach nearer the city with their marketable goods than a hill about half a mile to the north of Kilbride, on the old road to Glasgow, to which the inhabitants of Glasgow consequently resorted, as a temporary market-place, and which has ever since retained the name of the market-hill.

Rev. Henry Moncrieff, New Statistical Account, 1834


I’ve been trying to trace the route of the road right through to Rutherglen, but once it’s crossed the Cathkin Braes, it’s not obvious. There are numerous references to it being there, but it must have been one of those obvious things that required no detailed information, cos everyone knew about it, until of course, fewer and fewer people did.

If anyone in the know reads this, feel free to leave a comment.

Queen Mary’s Well, Blantyre

The old road along which Queen Mary passed on her way from Hamilton Palace to Cathcart Castle, on the day previous to the battle of Langside, intersects the property [Milheugh House], and there is a beautiful spring of water in an adjoining glen still known by the name of Queen Mary’s Well, at which that unfortunate lady is said to have rested.

Old country houses of old Glasgow gentry

I love that so many older books are being published freely online. This is a favourite for flicking through, but I’d never spotted this paragraph before.

I had a look for a possible old road on Google and Bing maps, but nothing jumped out at me.

Scotland’s Places does mention its existence, and offers a location map, and font of all Blantyre knowledge, my dad, reckons that it’s marked by or close to pools of water where waterlilies grow.

Plus if she did pass this way, how would her train have crossed the Rotten Calder? I’ll need to check for the nearest bridges and fording places.

From the maps

Take a non-descript bit of road, notable mainly for its curviness, and have a closer look. This is part of the road leading between Strathaven from East Kilbride.

It’s a sad fact that there are vast numbers of small farms in the local area that no longer exist. There are often clues lying around, from fallen masonry and ruins to less defined lumps and bumps, or straight lines of hedges indicating field or road lines.

Even in this very short stretch, three roads lead to lost farms: Rigmuir (top right), Craighouse (bottom middle) and Rig Farm (bottom left).

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The OS map also shows other signs of industry, now long vanished, including a Brick and Tile Works on the road leading to Quarry Farm and limekilns just past Craighouse Farm. There’s a quarry just outwith the frame of the map.

This main road (A726) was part of the turnpike road between Muirkirk and Glasgow. The tollhouse is just around the next corner heading south. The map indicates there’s a milestone, but that’s probably long gone.

And there’s a very peculiar road just at the top left, that appears to lead nowhere. On the ground, it definitely looks like a road, so what on Earth is it.

Any further information or ideas welcome.