Our virtual walk today will take you from Kirkfieldbank to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre at New Lanark.
Our walk starts at Clydeshome Bridge, Kirkfieldbank, near Lanark. We walk up Kirkfield Road for 1/4 mile until we come to a path leading to the River Clyde. The path is quite easy to miss as it is not marked and is just before some new houses on the left hand side of the road. Fortunately, we see a small gate with a path leading down to the River Clyde, so decide that this is the path we are looking for.
The path is solid and wide enough for off-road vehicles to travel on. We follow it and enter some nice woodland. The weather is dull, but mild, considering it is early February. As we walk along we see a small waterfall and stop to admire it. The water is flowing quickly, no doubt boosted by the heavy rain which has fallen recently.
As we walk over for a closer look, we see some fungi on a fallen tree branch. It is called Judas’ Ear fungi, which is quite common at this time of the year. As we continue on, the path starts to get a bit muddier now, but as we have proper walking boots on, we can walk without any discomfort. After about 1/2 mile we come to a path on our left and decide to follow it as it leads to the River Clyde.
This path is much narrower and is only suitable for walking or mountain biking. We see the buildings of New Lanark on the other side of the Clyde and people walking along the river bank. The Clyde is very deep and fast flowing.
We are walking through the Falls of Clyde Nature Reserve now, which is managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. The path soon takes us up to higher ground with a viewing area which provides an excellent close-up view of Corra Linn. This is one of the three falls of the Clyde, the others being Dundaff Linn and Bonnington Linn.
We watch the water cascading over the waterfall of Corra Linn, catching the fine spray given off in the process. We have chosen a great day for our walk as the water level is so high that the water is travelling at lightning speed. When we get to the other side of the river we will get a spectacular view of Corra Linn, which at at 90 feet, is the highest of the three falls.
There are a number of vantage points for us to view the river and area around the Fall which provide excellent views of the falls. I explain that the Clyde Gorge was formed after the last ice age, 12,000 years ago, when a melt water channel from the retreating glacier gouged a new river bed. The area is now a Scottish Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve.
As we continue on we come to the remains of Corra Castle. The castle lies very close to the falls of Corra Linn and the sheer cliffs on three sides provided a natural defence to the castle when it was in operation. Access to the ruins of this castle is prohibited, as it is home to a colony of rare bats.
The well-defined path now takes us to Bonnington Linn, which is a mere 30 feet and much smaller that Corra Linn. Approaching the viewing area, we feel the fine spray of the water and it feels as if it is raining. Bonnington Linn has a much higher area in the middle and the water cascades down two sides, leaving the centre of it free from water.
A small iron bridge can be seen from the riverbank leading to the centre of the fall. I advise this is the Bonnington Iron Bridge and there will be a chance to see the bridge in greater detail when we are on the other side of the river. We watch the water as it tumbles over the fall and continue on our way.
We are now approaching a small bridge over the Clyde which will take us to New Lanark. ScottishPower have a weir here (Bonnington Weir) which controls the volume of water for their hydro power station further down the Clyde.
We follow the path along the river, only this time we are on the opposite side. Bonnington Iron Bridge can be seen in greater detail from here and we go down to have a look at it. Unfortunately, the bridge is unsafe and we cannot walk on it, but we do get to see it close up.
This part of the walk gives us the chance to view the falls from the other side of the river. As we walk along we come to the peregrine viewing area, which is open from April to September, when the peregrine falcons are nesting and rearing their young. The area is deserted at the moment, but in a few months it will be busy with Scottish Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers watching over the area and giving advice to then many visitors who come to watch the peregrines.
After we leave the peregrine area, the path starts getting busier, with many people out for a stroll. The main attraction is undoubtedly the Corra Linn Falls, which are spectacular from this side of the Clyde. As we approach the viewing area we see a number of people taking photographs of the fall. When we were on the other side we saw the it close up, but now we are viewing it from much further away.
The poet William Wordsworth described the Corra Linn Falls as “the Clyde’s most majestic daughter” after a visit in 1802 and JMW Turner painted the Falls between 1844 and 1846. Sir Walter Scott and Samuel Taylor Coleridge were also visitors to the area.
The water level is high and it is travelling at high speed as it cascades down from higher ground. We have picked a good day for our walk as it is not often that the water level is so high. We spend some time here watching the magnificent view before us, before continuing on our way to New Lanark visitor centre.
Soon Bonnington Linn hydro power station comes into view, owned by ScottishPower. Giant water pipes can be seen carrying water from the Clyde to the power station which will be converted to electricity. The power station is in a secure site, so we can only look at it from a distance. Walking along, I point out a house on our right which is home to a colony of rare pipistrell bats. These are protected by law and cannot be removed from the house. Fortunately, the present owners seem unconcerned by their nocturnal residents!
The path now forks and we take the one on the left which leads us back to the river again. The area here is wet, so elevated boards have been build to allow visitors to walk in safety to the village. The water level is very high today and nearly reaches the boards we are walking on.
We have one last fall to look at – Dundaff Linn, which at 10 feet is the smallest fall. The view of it from the other side of the Clyde was obscured by trees, so we have an opportunity to see it from this side of the river. We take a few moments to look at this fall, and although not as spectacular as the previous ones, is still worth looking at.
Our walk has come to an end and we now are at New Lanark Village. This was once a thriving industrial centre where adults and children had good working and living conditions, thanks to the philanthropist, Robert Owen. While many people in the 19 century lived and worked in terrible conditions, those in New Lanark had good working conditions, housing, access to education and health. Physical punishment was prohibited and child labour was restricted at a time when children worked down mines and in other dangerous places.
The buildings have all been restored now and although there are no cotton mills, there are other large and small businesses providing goods and services to visitors. These include a café, hotel and youth hostel. There are also museums and a roof garden. The Scottish Wildlife Trust have a visitor centre there which is well worth a visit.
We walk along the area looking at the buildings which have been restored to reflect the character of the original village. The area is now a UNESCO World Heritage Centre and is visited by tourists from all over the world.
Our walk has almost come to an end, but there is one thing to do before making our way back to Lanark and that is to get a view of New Lanark from above. This requires walking up a steep path to the top of the hill adjacent to the village. The climb is hard but well worth the effort.