SNH Cartland Craigs

A deep hidden gorge cloaked in ancient woodland

Filed under Nature Reserves

Discover a deep hidden gorge cloaked in ancient woodland where rare species cling to steep slopes and wildlife flourishes undisturbed at Cartland Craigs.


Cartland Craigs is part of the Clyde Valley Woodlands National Nature Reserve (NNR), linked to the nearby Cleghorn Glen by a linear 3 mile walk, following the small but mighty Mouse Water, a 12 kilometre long tributary of the River Clyde. 


The steep gorge provides a protective habitat for a wide variety of species and the trees have been managed partly as coppice for a long time, meaning that light can reach the woodland floor, where wildflowers like primroses and herb Paris grow.

This secluded world isn’t only a haven for plants and animals – it’s seclusion has provided humans with security throughout the ages too. William Wallace is said to have hidden in a natural cleft in the rocks here after fleeing from enemy soldiers garrisoned in Lanark at the end of the 13th century. The cave is one of two Wallace’s Caves in the area – the other being at Falls of Clyde. A low earth mound situated on high ground above the crags is all that is left of the mysterious 12th century Castle Qua.


At 39 metres high, Thomas Telford’s Cartland Bridge is the second highest bridge over fresh water in Scotland. It is best viewed from the woodland path at Cartland Craigs where you can see the bricks protected by the deep gorge still look like new.