Scottish walks: The Clyde Walkway

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It is to my shame that until recently I had never been to any section of the partially waymarked 40-mile Clyde Walkway.

Much of the route has easy access to public transport. Given icy roads on a cold and frosty morning, and with difficulty in unlocking my car, I decided to travel by train to Uddingston, close by the Walkway.

Purely on a whim, the plan was to head upstream to Strathclyde Country Park, passing on the way Bothwell Castle and the David Livingstone Centre – an easy stroll according to the map.

It was not to be. On the way I met two locals who reported that the path from Lower Blantyre was currently closed and that going further on would entail a complicated and scarcely pleasant detour through the network of roads leading to the M74. “Forget it,” was their advice. “Come back another day and start from further upstream.” Accepting their advice, I restricted the walk to just the Livingstone Centre and back.

Map Ordnance Survey map 64, Glasgow

Distance 7 miles

Height Negligible

Terrain Undulating riverside path

Start point Uddingston railway station

Time 2½ to 3 hours

Nearest town Uddingston

Refreshment spot David Livingstone Centre tea room (not before Easter)

Leave Uddingston station from platform 2 and turn left on the path between the railway line and the station car park for the gentle descent westwards to the Clyde. Curve left under the railway line to reach the signposted way to the river, National Cycle Route 75. The path goes by a school to reach a T-junction by the Clyde. (The cycle route heads right, downstream, to a footbridge across the river).

However, turn left, upstream, on the east bank of the river on what at first looks like a minor path, but which gradually changes to a pretty and undulating sandy/Tarmac way by the gently flowing river. Less than a mile later, steps on the left lead to the hidden-at-first red sandstone ruins of Scotland’s largest and finest 13th century stronghold, Bothwell Castle, situated on a high steep bank above a bend on the river. Never completed to its original plan, the castle had a very active role in the Wars of Independence (1296-1356). It fell into English hands time and again, the most momentous occasion being Edward I’s great siege of 1301, but it was finally recaptured by its rightful owner, Sir Andrew Murray. If more time is to be spent here, I recommend the Historic Scotland souvenir guide. (Open all year; winter closed Thursday and Friday; adult admission £4.50).

Return to the walkway below the massive walls of the castle and into a more enclosed wooded ravine. Stay close to the faster flowing river and now with a distant sound, not that of the M74, but of a soon-to-be reached weir. The main path takes a detour to avoid an eroded area close by the river. Later, steps on the left lead to a green cantilevered footbridge which gives good views of the weir and the adjacent discreet hydroelectric plant that takes advantage of the head of water. Because of legislation, a fish ladder (pass) had to be constructed. Indeed you will have passed by a Mid Clyde Angling Association sign. The river is now a healthy and fertile home to more than 33 species of fish, including its famed brown trout and, more recently, a resurgent salmon population.

Cross the bridge to the west bank. Pass on the left the entrance to the currently closed path. Uphill on the right is the David Livingstone Visitor Centre, closed over the next two years for the museum redevelopment, courtesy of a £3.5 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The centre is closed entirely for the winter but by Easter the shop and tearoom will reopen with a programme of events for all the family.

On return to Uddingston I concluded that although the shorter than planned outing had been most enjoyable, nevertheless next time I would head further upstream to the Lanark end of the Walkway.

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