SNH Cleghorn Glen

A beautiful woodland set on the steep Mouse Water Gorge

Filed under Nature Reserves

Cleghorn is a beautiful and peaceful woodland easily reached from Lanark, set on a steep gorge which the Mouse Water flows through, and bordered by rolling farmland.

It is part of the Clyde Valley Woodlands National Nature Reserve (NNR), linked to the nearby Cartland Craigs by a linear 3 mile walk alongside the Mouse Water. At only 12 kilometres long, this river is short but surprisingly powerful, rising quickly after heavy rain. The burn was once used to power mills and factories, and is still used to generate hydroelectricity today. Watch for dippers that bob on the rocks before they dive under water to search for insects.

  • A snowy Cleghorn Glen and Mouse Water

    A snowy Cleghorn Glen and Mouse Water

    Copyright Lorne Gill, SNH
  • Looking down into the deep gorge

    Looking down into the deep gorge

    Copyright Lorne Gill, SNH
  • An icy Mouse Water

    An icy Mouse Water

    Copyright Lorne Gill, SNH
  • Bluebells carpet the floor at Cleghorn Glen in spring

    Bluebells carpet the floor at Cleghorn Glen in spring

    Copyright Lorne Gill, SNH
  • A snowy Cleghorn Glen and Mouse Water
  • Looking down into the deep gorge
  • An icy Mouse Water
  • Bluebells carpet the floor at Cleghorn Glen in spring

Spring is the best time to enjoy the colour and perfume of the 210 species of flowering plants that cling to the dramatic slopes. In May, the woodland floor becomes a magnificent blanketed carpet of bluebells whilst long-tailed tits, redstarts, wood warblers and chaffinches sing from the trees above. Listen out for the hammering of the great spotted woodpecker and see if you can catch a glimpse of a tawny owl, kingfisher, badger or roe deer. In places where the ground is more acidic, you will find patches of heather and blueberry under Scots pines.

Every June, hundreds of people take part in the Lanark Lanimer procession carrying birch twigs taken from Cleghorn Glen. Ever since being granted its Royal charter in 1140, the people of Lanark have fulfilled their duty of checking their boundaries, marked out by a series of 15 ‘march’ stones, one of which sits in the Mouse Water at Cleghorn Glen. In 1840, an ancient dispute with the Lairds of Jerviswood came to a head when the Laird tried to stop the procession from crossing what he said was his land at Cleghorn Glen, and damaging his newly planted birch trees. Upon checking the records, it was discovered that the Laird had never officially been sold the land, and since then, the people of Lanark have carried the birch twigs to show they have exercised their right to walk in the Jerviswood lands.