Virtual Walk from Bothwell Castle to Palace Grounds

Our walk today is from Bothwell Castle to the Palace Grounds in Hamilton. This is just over 6.5 miles ending at Hamilton outside the Mausoleum, final resting places of the Dukes of Hamilton.

Bothwell Castle

As the journey is starting and finishing at different points, we take a bus to Uddingston, getting off at the bus stop just before Uddingston Cross. We walk down a road to the left, next to the police station, and turn left onto Castle Avenue.

We pass the Cricket and Athletic ground and some lovely houses. The area we are in is popular with professional people and footballers. After about half a mile we arrive at the road leading to the Castle.

It is a bright, crisp, sunny January day and there are a number of people out walking, many with dogs. The castle is looking good in the winter sunshine. It dates from the 13th century and is an outstanding monuments remaining from this period.

Historic Significance

It was built by Walter of Moray, a northern aristocratic family who acquired Bothwell in 1242. It has been described as ‘the grandest piece of secular architecture that the Middle Ages has bequeathed to us in Scotland’ by Dr W. Douglas Simpson, librarian of King’s College at the University of Aberdeen.

Bothwell Castle
Bothwell Castle

It figured in the Wars of Independence with England and numerous sieges, the most important being Edward I’s great siege of 1301. Edward I of England was also known as ‘Hammer of the Scots’ and he  brought 6,800 soldiers to the castle hauling a huge siege engine, called le berefrey (‘the belfry’), from Glasgow.

This was a tall siege tower, with ladders inside and allowed the attackers to fight their way onto the castle battlements. The garrison surrendered within the month.

As we arrive at the main entrance to the castle, I point out a tree on our right with some gregarious birds perched at the top. I identify them as Jackdaws and they roost in one of the towers in the castle at night.

Inside the Castle

Bothwell Castle
Bothwell Castle

We enter the castle, which is maintained by Historic Scotland. There is a small shop near the entrance which sells some refreshments and quality goods.

We tour the castle, imagining life in the 13th century as we go along. It must have been an impressive structure when it was built. We complete our visit to the castle by walking round the perimeter wall.

Clyde Walkway to Blantyre

We then take a path to the south of the castle which runs parallel with the River Clyde towards Blantyre. As we walk along, we hear the singing of Blue Tits and Great Tits, and on our right, on the Clyde, we see two pairs of Goldeneye ducks.

Dr David Livingstone

David Livingstone's House
David Livingstone's House

We soon come to a small iron bridge which crosses the river to Blantyre.  African explorer, Dr David Livingstone was born here on March 13, 1813. We can see the house from the other side of the river. (For more on Dr Livingstone, please see the article here).

We cross the bridge and re-join the walkway towards Strathclyde Park. The river is now on our left and we are quite close to the river. The path is well defined, but after about 1.5 miles, it becomes harder to see. We continue on a smaller path which eventually leads us into a field.

This is quite boggy and reminiscent of the Campsies. The field is enclosed in temporary fencing which makes it harder to find the way ahead.  The OS map has a path clearly marked but we are unable to find it. The problem seems to be as a result of the demolition of a building – probably Craighead – which has turned this part of the walkway into a building site.

Finding our Way

We decide to walk to the road and then try to find the path further along. Getting out of the field is difficult with all the fencing, but we do find a gap to take us to the main road.

We walk along the footpath next to the A725 and can see Strathclyde Loch in the distance. After quarter of a mile, we see steps which lead us to a walkway which will take us to Bothwell Bridge.

Battle of Bothwell Bridge

Bothwell Bridge
Bothwell Bridge

There was a battle here on 22nd June 1679. It was fought between government troops and militant Presbyterian Covenanters and signalled the end of their brief rebellion. (For more on the Covenanters, please see the article here).

After walking across the bridge, we cross the busy Bothwell Road and continue on the path towards Strathclyde Park. The path follows the River Clyde for about 40 meters before turning west towards the main entrance to Strathclyde Park.

Strathclyde Park

We are walking through some grassland with the busy A725 on our left. A large pond can be seen on our right, but there does not seem to be any wildlife in it or on the meadow.

After about 10 minutes, we arrive at a busy junction and have to carefully cross two slip roads before arriving at Strathclyde Park. We climb some steps towards the Toby Carvery and continue on a footpath past some ash parks and arrive at the west side of Strathclyde Loch, which is situated in the park.

Strathclyde Loch

Strathclyde Loch
Strathclyde Loch

This is the side of the loch which is used for start of rowing events. Major events held at the loch in recent years include the rowing events for the 1986 Commonwealth Games, the 1996 Junior World Rowing Championships, the 2005 World Rowing Masters Regatta and the 2006 Commonwealth Rowing Championships.

Strathclyde Loch is an artificial loch located next to the River Clyde between Hamilton and Motherwell. it is situated in the area which used to be known as the Low parks of the now demolished Hamilton Palace. It was created in the early 1970s when the old mining village of Bothwellhaugh was flooded.

Waterbirds

As we walk along footpath, the loch is on our left. A few rowers from the rowing club are out on the water and some sailing boats can be seen in the distance. Large flocks of gulls with some Canada Geese, Mallard Ducks and some Mute Swans are on the other side of the loch.

The footpath is very busy with walkers, runners and cyclists, probably encouraged by the pleasant winter weather. Many people walk round the loch for exercise, while others come to look at the wildlife and the birds in the surrounding area.

Home to Roost

Waterfowl
Waterfowl

We walk at a brisk pace towards the main building at the east side of the loch. Many birds can be seen close-up at this part of the loch. Today we are fortunate to see Mute Swans, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese and many different types of gulls, as dusk is approaching and the birds are coming ashore to roost.

We stop to look at the birds for 20 minutes before continuing on our way to the main buildings in the park. We will now cross a small footbridge over the River Clyde towards Hamilton and walk through the Palace Grounds, where Hamilton Palace once stood.

Hamilton Palace and Mausoleum

Hamilton Palace was the former seat of the Dukes of Hamilton. It was built in 1695 and demolished in 1921 due to ground subsidence. It was one of the grandest houses in Scotland.

Hamilton Mausoleum, final resting place of the Dukes of Hamilton, still stands in the grounds. It is a Roman-style domed structure of panelled masonry and is the solitary remaining testament to the scale and grandeur of the buildings which once stood in the Hamilton Low Parks. It has the longest-lasting echo of any building in the world.

We stop to look at the Mausoleum. It is now surrounded by a high fence to prevent damage to it so we are unable to get close to it. It is possible to visit the interior by making an appointment with staff at the Low Parks Museum.

All the coffins from the Mausoleum were re-buried in Hamilton’s Bent Cemetery due to the subsidence and flooding which affected the building.

We are now coming to the end of our walk and we walk along a footpath past some small football pitches towards the main shopping centre in Hamilton.

Further Information
Bothwell Castle: Grid Ref: NS 688 593
Strathclyde Loch: Grid Ref: NS728567

Travel Details
Road – Travel to Uddingston Cross and follow Castle Avenue to Bothwell Castle.
Public Transport – Train to Uddingston and walk 0.5 miles to the Castle.
First Bus no 255 from Glasgow or Hamilton. Alight at Uddingston Cross.

Historic Scotland – http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/
North Lanarkshire Council – http://www.northlanarkshire.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1
South Lanarkshire Councilhttp://www.southlanarkshire.gov.uk/

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Dr David Livingstone’s Centre

It’s funny how places miles away seem more appealing than the ones nearer home. Despite passing David Livingstone’s Centre in Blantyre regularly, I had only visited it a few times, until one day I decided it was time pay another visit.

David Livingstone Museum
David Livingstone Museum

The Visitor Centre is a new building and contains pamphlets and books, as well as gifts and a coffee shop. Tickets are obtained there for the Museum, which is in Shuttle Row, where Dr Livingstone was born.

This whole building, which housed 23 families in David Livingstone’s time, is now devoted to his life and work.

It contains many of Dr Livingstone’s possessions including his diaries and journals, his maps of Africa and his navigational instruments, including sextant and compasses.

Dr Livingstone’s Medical Kit

As a doctor of medicine, he also had an extensive medical kit because of the illnesses and diseases in Africa. Malaria, caused by the bite from a mosquito was widespread and Dr Livingstone advocated the use of quinine to relieve the symptoms of malaria. (Narrative of an expedition to the Zambesi and its tributaries; and of the discovery of the Lakes Shirwa and Nyassa (1858-1864) – Chapter 3 – Page 88.)

Remedy for Malaria

His remedy for malaria was known as “rousers” as it could rouse those who were extremely weak and incapacitated, the recipe of which he details below:

“A remedy composed of from six to eight grains of resin of jalap, the same
of rhubarb, and three each of calomel and quinine, made up into four pills,
with tincture of cardamoms, usually relieved all the symptoms in five or six
hours. Four pills are a full dose for a man – one will suffice for a woman.

They received from our men the name of ‘rousers’ from their efficacy in
rousing up even those most prostrated. When their operation is delayed, a
desert-spoonful of Epsom salts should be given. Quinine after or during the
operation of the pills, in large doses every two or three hours, until deafness’
or cinchonism ensued, completed the cure.”

(Narrative of an expedition to the Zambesi and its tributaries; and of the discovery of the Lakes Shirwa and Nyassa (1858-1864) – Chapter 3 – Page 88.)

Globe Fountain
Globe Fountain in Front of Shuttle Row

Dr Livingstone the Missionary

Dr Livingstone was also a religious man and had been brought up in the Church of Scotland, but left when he was 19 years old to join the Congregational Church. He had a good knowledge of the Scriptures and used the power of prayer to help him and others in time of need. He used his love of the Scriptures to teach others about Christianity.

Horrors of Slavery

He also spoke out about the horrors of slavery in Africa and campaigned for its abolition. He gives a graphic description of the horrors of slavery in an entry in his journal  on 19th June, 1866:

“JUNE 19th, 1866. We passed a woman tied by the neck to a tree and dead ; the people of the country explained that she had been unable to keep up with the other slaves in a gang, and her master had determined that she should not become the property of anyone else if she recovered after resting for a time. I may mention here that we saw others tied up in a similar manner, and one lying in the path shot or stabbed, for she was in a pool of blood.

The explanation we got invariably was that the Arab who owned these victims was enraged at losing his money by the slaves becoming unable to. March, and vented his spleen by murdering them ; but I have nothing more than common report in support of attributing this enormity to the Arabs.”
(The Last Journals of David Livingstone in Central Africa From Eighteen Hundred)

Visiting David Livingstone’s Centre

The Centre is in Blantyre at the bottom of Station Road. It can be accessed by public transport or private car. It is situated in parkland. Prominent in the grounds is a statue of David Livingstone being attacked by a lion in the Mabotsa Valley in 1843. This magnificent bronze statue is worth a closer look. It

David Livingstone Attacked by Lion
David Livingstone Attacked by Lion

was designed and paid for oscar-winning animator Ray Harryhausen and his wife Diane, who is David Livingstone’s great-grand-daughter, in 2004.

The modern Visitor Centre and Museum are a short walk from the statue.

Livingstone Museum

The Museum is situated in the building in which the young David was born. It is on three floors and visitors work from the top down to the ground floor. Young David lived in one room in this building.

The top floor has many items from Dr Livingstone’s childhood including the room in which he was born, his christening shawl, a loom with a description of what life was like in the mills and some items from his travels in Africa. It also includes a copy of a map Dr Livingstone drew of the Trans Africa Expedition. The Consular Uniform given to him by Queen Victoria is also on display.

The middle floor has exhibits dedicated to Dr Livingstone’s missionary life and crusade against slavery. It also has a Dark Gallery which contains some powerful 3d images of Dr Livingstone in Africa and of his hour of death in 1874. It was designed by Charles d’Orville Pilkington Jackson (1887-1973)

Crusade Against Slavery

Dr livingstone’s crusade against slavery is also documented and many artifacts from the slave trade are on display including marchettes, shackles and whips, which show the horrific treatment endured by the slaves. Dr livingstone’s wife Mary is also given prominence and some of her personal possessions are also on display.

Small Chapel
Small Chapel

The ground floor has items relating to Dr Livingstone the explorer and as a medical doctor. Many of his medical instruments are on display including surgical instruments and medicines.

A cast of the arm which was broken by a lion in 1843 is also on display.

Carving of the Last Journey Home
Carving of the Last Journey Home

There are also copies of maps drawn by Dr livingstone and the navigational instruments he used including his sextant, compass, sundial and telescope.

The red shirt he was wearing when he met Henry Morton Stanley in 1871 is also on display. The shirt was made from cotton which originated in the Blantyre Mills where the young David worked.

The Last Journey Home

A magnificent carving by Charles d’Orville Pilkington Jackson (1887-1973) depicts the journey transporting Dr Livingstone’s body from Africa to England. The memorial in westminster Abbey where Dr Livingstone is buried is located in a small area laid out as a place of prayer with a stain-glass window providing some natural light.

Gardens in the Centre
Gardens in the Centre

This signals the end of the tour of the Museum but there are other areas to explore including the gardens, which are home to many species of birds and wildlife.

NB: Some of Dr Livingstone’s books and journal can be read online. Links to these are listed below:
1. Narrative of an expedition to the Zambesi and its tributaries
and of the discovery of the Lakes Shirwa and Nyassa, 1858-1864
by David and Charles Livingstone. – http://openlibrary.org/books/OL6955469M/

2. The Last Journals of David Livingstone in Central Africa From Eighteen Hundred – http://www.readanybook.com/ebook/

Further Information: The David Livingstone Centre is maintained by the National Trust for Scotland.
Address: 165 Station Road, Blantyre, South Lanarkshire G72 9BY
Ordnance Survey Ref: NS695584