Our walk today is from Hamilton High Parks to Strathclyde Park. On the way we will see many objects and buildings of interest. The walk starts in the Barncluith area (the Baron’s Cleuch or glen) of Hamilton on Barncluith Road.
As we walk up this road, we pass some beautiful houses which were built at the beginning of the 20th century. I point out the manse for St John’s Church which was occupied by the Rev. John Brown from1967 until 1980. He was father of Gordon Brown MP, the former Prime Minister .
After 1/4 mile we come to Barncluith House, which was built around 1538 and has been maintained and restored through the years.
It is an impressive stone tower house which is now a private residence with terraced gardens which run down to the Avon Water.
As we walk along, the road becomes steeper and soon flattens out when we enter the High Parks. Until the 1980’s, entry to the area was by permit only, but it is now accessible to anyone on foot. As we walk up the small slope, we see on our left a monument known as the ‘Dukes Monument’.
This has been built with marble and sandstone and resembles a Grecian structure. It was built to the memory of William Duke of Hamilton, who died in 1863. We stop to look at it in greater detail before continuing on our walk.
The road we are walking on is well surfaced and allows us to walk quickly. We are in an area with woodland on either side and we discuss what wildlife may live in the woods.
After a quarter of a mile, the road ends at the gates to a private residence and so our journey continues on a path to our left. This path is now unsurfaced, but is still well defined easy to follow. To our right are fields with grazing sheep, while to our left is woodland.
As we walk along, we hear the singing of birds including bluetits, robins and crows. A songthrush can be heard singing nearby and a woodpecker is drumming somewhere in the distance.
The path is well used, judging by the number of footprints in the mud and we pass a number of people going in the opposite direction. We are now walking in the direction of Chatelherault Country Park and will soon arrive at Cadzow Castle and the Dukes Bridge, when we get to the end of this path.
Arriving at Cadzow Castle, we see that it is being restored by Historic Scotland and access is restricted. This was a royal residence until the time of Robert the Bruce (25th March 1306 to 7th June 1329) and is believed to be where Mary Queen of Scots stayed before the Battle of Langside in 1568. It was built in the 13th century and acted as a royal residence for Alexander II and Alexander III. It passed to the Hamilton Family during the time of Robert the Bruce.
Today all that remains of the Castle are the ruined remains of the keep. Traditionally it is claimed that this was the hunting lodge of the ancient kings of Strathclyde.
Mary Queens of Scots had connections with the area. The 3rd Baron Hamilton, James Hamilton, was given the French Dukedom of Châtelherault after supporting Mary’s marriage to the Dauphin. Mary’s third husband was the Earl of Bothwell, who allegedly plotted the assassination of her second husband, Lord Darnley.
There is not much to see of the Castle as it is surrounder by scaffolding, so we head down to the Dukes Bridge, which provides access over the Avon Gorge. At 100 feet, it gives a great view of the River Avon below.
As we leave the bridge, we make our way to Chatelherault Lodge, which was used as a hunting lodge by the Dukes of Hamilton.
It was designed by William Adam and completed in 1734. There is a steep slope in front of the Lodge which has been caused by the quarrying of sand. This was halted in the 1970’s but has caused subsidence in the lodge. Walking through the lodge makes many visitors feel unwell. We view this magnificent building from the outside and decide to visit it again soon.
Our exit from the Park is via the Huntsmans Ride to Old Avon Bridge. This is a pleasant walk through woodland and was originally used by the Duke’s hunting parties. To our left is a steep descent to the river Avon, and as we walk along, we pass a few dog walkers. The path then takes a sharp turn to the right, taking us into open country with fields of grazing sheep on either side.
As we walk along, we get good views of Hamilton and Motherwell before continuing to Old Avon Bridge which is said to have been built by the monks from Lesmahagow.
It appears on the maps of Timothy Pont, who spent the period from 1580 to 1583 travelling throughout Scotland mapping the country. The bridge has been restored through the years and still retains the cobble-stones on it’s surface.
To our left is a weir, a remnant from the days when there was a working mill in the area. The mill can still be seen from the main road, but is in a derelict state now. We continue along the recently-tarred cycle path to an area called Smithycroft. It is a pleasant walk, with the River Avon to our right.
We notice a pair of gooseanders in the water, which is unusual, as they are not often seen in this stretch of the river. As we walk to the water’s edge to take a photograph, these skittish birds fly away.
Smithycroft has a large bird pond and is home to a variety of wildlife, including some roe deer. We continue on the cycle path to our right and walk towards the bird pond. The river Avon is still on our right, with grassland to our left. A few anglers can be seen on the riverbank spending a relaxing day fishing. In the distance can be seen the busy M74 motorway, which provides a contrast to our quiet walk today.
As we approach the bird pond we notice how devoid of birds it is in comparison with a few years ago, when it was home to greater numbers of birds. We see mallard ducks, swans, geese and coots in the water. It is a peaceful scene and quite a desirable area for these birds.
Continuing on the cycle path, we are on our way to Motherwell and Strathclyde Park. This a busy stretch of the path with walkers, cyclist and even people with prams. The river to our right is still the Avon, but soon we will come to the junction where it meets the River Clyde.
Our path sweeps left towards Strathclyde Park and on our left a small patch of woodland separates us from the busy M74. The noise is not too bad and does not affect our enjoyment too much. The path is winding but flat and we soon arrive at the small footbridge over the Clyde.
As we cross the bridge, we can see in the distance Strathclyde Loch, a man made loch which is used extensively for watersports. The Loch has been host to many national and world rowing and sailing events and will be the venue for some events at the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
Approaching the loch, we see a large number of greylag geese sitting on the grass. The loch is home to a large number of birds including swans, ducks and geese.
The birds are quite tame and will take food from the hands of visitors when it is offered to them.
Looking over the loch, we notice that there are some sailing boats on the water and a few rowers can also be seen in the distance. We relax on one of the many seats in the park watching the activity on the water before making our way for some refreshments in the cafe.
Our walk was very interesting today as we learned some local history along the way.