Ten Clyde and Avon Valley Winter Walks
Ancient wooded gorges, crumbling castles, orchards and more
The Clyde and Avon Valley is characterised by its patchwork of wild ancient wooded gorges, set amongst rolling farmland, riverside settlements and majestic designed landscapes. It is peppered with stunning geological features, crumbling castles, orchards and fascinating wildlife.
Walking the many trails throughout this stunning landscape is one of the best ways to get to know it. Here’s a list of ten Walks in the Clyde and Avon Valley, in no particular order, you might like to try out this festive season. Links to each walk / site are available at the bottom of the page under 'Related Projects' and you can check public transport links by clicking the Traveline Scotland link on the right of the page.
Chatelherault Country Park has a range of walks of varying lengths and terrain through 500 acres of stunning and historic countryside which was once the grand estate of Hamilton Palace – one of the grandest houses in Britain before it was demolished in 1927. The parkland is part of the Clyde Valley National Nature Reserve (NNR), recognised for its rich and diverse ecology. Choose between the Green Bridge, Cadzow Oaks, The Deer Park, Hoolet Row, Mineral Railway and Monument trails, and don’t forget to take in the fabulous views over the Avon Gorge on the west side of the Avon Water which were opened up this year through the removal of 6,500 tonnes of commercial plantation conifers. Click the 'Chatelherault Trails to the Past' link in the Chatelherault article below.
Stage 5 of the Clyde Walkway takes you 8 miles through orchard country and spectacular wooded gorges to New Lanark UNESCO World Heritage Village and natural wonder of the Falls of Clyde, which has long been a popular destination for visitors from Wordsworth to J. M. W. Turner. When the trees are bare during winter, it’s a perfect time to look down at the spectacle of Stonebyres Falls – the fourth of the four Falls of Clyde heading downstream, opposite the village of Kirkfieldbank.
The Clyde Walkway Community Links Nemphlar Moor Road to Braidwood trail is a lovely walk that takes you through the Lee Valley and past the dramatic Fiddler’s Gill gorge, with an option to detour to the 16th century Tower of Halbar. Perched on the edge of a sandstone cliff within the Fiddler’s Gill, lies Sampson’s Slingstane, a large rock rumoured to be a remnant of a boulder flung by the giant Sampson from Tinto, trying to target Glasgow Cathedral! Although inaccessible, the Slingstane is buried deep in local lore – spare Sampson a thought as you walk past.
Mapping the Past is a guide to the cartographic history of the Clyde and Avon Valley created by CAVLP Heritage. Although more a collection of sites that you can drive between, you can choose sites within the guide to explore on foot. Take in Milton Head, dubbed the Birthplace of Modern Mapping as birthplace of Major-General William Roy, a Roman Camp site at Cleghorn and puzzle over mysterious place names of Dalserf and Nemphlar. There’s also information on the breath-taking Alasdair Gray Falls of Clyde mural which is a definite must-see in the Clyde and Avon Valley.
The Edgelands of Carluke were subject to a recent blogpost by Mark Archibald, the #MakeYourWay Project Photographer. He took to areas of wilderness either inside or on the fringes of built-up residential or industrial areas in Carluke, where he found beautiful countryside and remarkably photogenic woodland just minutes from schools, homes or the town centre. Keep an eye on the Upcoming Events page for details of #MakeYourWay activities including periscope walks in 2017.
Let Lady Geraldine Lockhart Ross take you on a walk around her old stomping ground - the designed landscape of Bonnington Estate, now Scottish Wildlife Trust Falls of Clyde, on the Falls of Clyde Historic Trail. Stand in the Hall of Mirrors and imagine when mirrors once reflected the Falls, making ladies swoon! Venture over to the quieter west side of the Reserve and tiptoe around 15th century Corra Castle, now home to rare and protected Brook Lamprey bats!
Stage 4 of the Clyde Walkway between Cardies Bridge and Crossford is a six mile stretch that takes you through varied woodland, passing various historic sites, such as Cambusnethan Priory, Mauldslie Estate, RSPB Baron’s Haugh (marvel at the recently rerouted section of Clyde Walkway) and Dalzell Estate. If you’ve got the energy, the detour to Craignethan Castle through Scottish Wildlife Trust Lower Nethan Gorge is well worth it – the castle is thought to have provided the inspiration for ‘Tillietudlem’ in Sir Walter Scott’s novel ‘Old Mortality’.
If you love exploring designed landscapes, you’re in the right place! The Clyde and Avon Valley is full of them. The Glorious Gardens volunteers have been hard at work researching and recording what is left of these historic sites. Take a virtual walkthrough of Carfin Estate created by the volunteers, and perhaps be inspired to take a real life trip to see the remnants of the designed landscape yourself.
The Clyde Walkway Community Links Law to Mauldslie Bridge trail starts in the old mining village of Law. It passes through Clyde Valley farmland and down into Mauldslie Woods, part of the Clyde Valley National Nature Reserve (NNR). The woods have their own monthly volunteering group who help retain the native characteristics of the woodland, which hosts the most marvellous carpet of bluebells come spring. Hunt for clues of the old designed landscape surrounding the site of Mauldslie Castle, including pretty iron bridges over dainty burns. Link in with longer walks along the Clyde from here too.
It’s not all gorges and river meanders in the Clyde and Avon Valley – get a little higher by paying a visit to Black Hill – a fabulous viewpoint for taking in the area. Formed by cooling magma millions of years ago, it is also the location of a later prehistoric settlement and it’s possible that people lived here as far back as 1000 BC. Look out for the large ‘dent’ in the landscape towards Nemphlar on the opposite side of the Clyde. This is the dry valley of the Nemphlar Channel, thought to have been the original channel of the Mouse Water before a new channel was cut during the last ice age, some 20,000 years ago.
So what are you waiting for? All of these amazing sights are waiting to be explored.
Let us know if you’ve been on any of these walks, what wildlife you saw along the way and what other walks you love on social media. Find the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership on Facebook: @Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership, on Twitter @ClydeAvonValley and on Instagram: @clydeavonvalley.