Cleghorn Glen to Cartland Craigs

View Cleghorn Glen to Cartland Bridge route in a map

Today I went on a walk with my friends from the Scottish Wildlife Trust through the Cleghorn Glen to Cartland Craigs, (known locally as Cartland Crags) which are near Lanark. These are managed by Scottish Natural Heritage and are part of the Clyde Valley Woodlands National Nature Reserve. The word ‘craig’ is of Gaelic origin, and means “rock” or “rocky”.

The weather was beautiful with bright sunshine, although it was quite frosty. We met at Lanark train/bus station at 11.00am and travelled the short journey to Cleghorn in a minibus. It is also possible to reach the start using the Bluebird no 77 or Stuarts no 37 buses from Lanark bus station to the start of the walk.

The entrance to the walk is clearly marked and there is a well-marked footpath which prevents walkers becoming lost on the walk.To the left was Mouse Water but it is not possible to walk along the banks of the river as there was a 30 foot drop to it from the footpath.

Great-spotted Woodpecker

The walk started off well – the autumn leaves were still on the trees and we were able to see the autumn colours before the leaves fall off in the next few weeks. A Great-spotted Woodpecker could be seen on a Beech tree and a flock of Blue-tits flew overhead. I had not seen a Woodpecker for over a year, so I was glad to see one again. A badger sett was also seen just after the start of the walk.

Badger Sett

Dogs Mercury

In the glen the main vegetation is Dogs Mercury and Woodrush. Dogs Mercury has spear-shaped, toothed, fresh green leaves carried on upright stems. It produces clusters of small, greenish flowers in spring. It is often found in woodland which has many Beech trees. The predominant tree in the glen was Beech.

Beech Trees 

Beech trees are characterised by having tight, smooth light gray bark. The bark is unique and is a major identifier of the species. It also has muscular roots which look like the legs and arms of some creature.

Beech tree in Autumn Colours

Beech trees are native to the South of England, but were introduced to other areas of the UK because the tree is so pleasing to the eye. The leaves can take up to three years or longer to decay because they are tougher than the leaves of other trees.

Crossing Mouse Water

The path through the forest was muddy in places, but as we were all wearing good walking boots, it was not too difficult to negotiate.

 Lunch Stop

At 13.45 we stopped for lunch, which we enjoyed in the Autumn sunshine.This gave us a chance to catch up with what we had seen on the walk.

Autumn Colours
Autumn Colours

After the lunch stop, the path descended to Mouse Water and we continued at river level until we arrived at Mousebank Road. On this stretch of the walk we saw some Otter spraint (excrement) and some Devils Bit Scabious flowers which was remarkable considering it was late October.

Devils Bit Scabious

Otter Spraint 

Otter spraint can be identified by smell and is often compared with new mown hay, lavender or mint. The specimen we saw today had the remains of fish scales in it.

Otter Spraint

We crossed the road and continued on towards Cartland Bridge. The path at this point involved a steep ascent before following a flat path towards the bridge. In the distance Lanark and Tinto Hill could be see on our left. 

Lanark and Tinto Hill

Cartland Crags Bridge

We were now approaching Cartland Crags Bridge which is 129 ft (39 m) tall bridge and was built in 1822 by the famous Scottish civil engineer Thomas Telford (1757–1834). It is a spectacular structure and is in excellent condition considering its age.

Cartland Crags Bridge

Our walk was coming to an end we soon arrived at the small car park at Cartland Bridge where the minibus driver was waiting to take us back to Lanark.

Summary of Walk

This was a great walk in an area which I was not familiar with. It was more enjoyable due to the Autumn sunshine and we managed to see the trees in their Autumn colours before the trees lose their leaves altogether.

Links

Scottish Wildlife Trust 

Scottish Natural Heritage 

Information Leaflet

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Glen Rosa Circuit – Arran

Glen Rosa is a low level walk which is not too strenuous and gives some excellent views of the hills around Brodick. It can be done in around 2.5 hours as it is only 5.5 miles.

The cloudy skies in the morning were a bit of a concern but it was soon with sunny and warm weather.

Start at the Brewery

The walk started and finished at the Brewery in Brodick. This is quite a busy area as Arran Aromatics, Arran Creamery, ‘Arran Active’ outdoor shop and a small gift shop are located there. A small bar, The Wineport, is also located there for refreshments after the walk.

The path from the start is uphill and soon joins the one from Brodick Castle to Goatfell, the highest mountain on Arran. This path is always busy as Goatfell is a very popular, if steep climb.

Glen Rosa Campsite
Glen Rosa Campsite

Navigation Aids

I was using my Garmin ETrex GPS with the route plotted on it and found it useful, but I still had my map and compass with me as well.

The path at the start is through some dense forest, but soon views of Brodick Bay and Glen Rosa campsite come into view. We are at the highest point of the walk here.

The path then descends to lower ground and becomes quite narrow. It is dry today so the path is not too boggy and the views of the surrounding hills come into view.

Beinn Nuis
Beinn Nuis

Beinn Nuis

Another walk through dense forest takes the walker out to a spectacular valley with views of the surrounding hills.

Beinn Nuis can be seen in the distance and Coire Fhraoich on the left. Creag Rosa is on the right.

Boggy Ground

The path becomes boggy in places and frequent small streams from the hills have to be crossed but good walking boots enable these to be negotiated without getting wet feet.

Beinn Tarsuinn
Beinn Tarsuinn

As the walk progresses Beinn Tarsuinn comes into view and the contours of the hill can be clearly seen.

This is perhaps a walk for a longer stay in Arran and is something for planning in the future.

Snakes! 

As we walk along, one of the party points out a small snake on the path. It’s not an adder, a poisonous snake found in Scotland, so no danger to anyone. It is also not moving and is probably dead, but we leave it alone.

Snake
Snake

We are Not Alone!

Voices can be heard in the distance and we cannot locate where they are at first. We look to the other side of the valley and see a party of walkers stopping for a picnic.

The path disappears after a while but we continue on the same direction  when the path becomes clear again. We are now walking to the other side of the valley and beginning the return journey to the start.

Return Journey

The path is flat and gives a view of the route we have jost taken on the other side of the valley. The return walk through the valley is very pleasant. The path then continues through a dense area of forest before exiting at Glen Rosa campsite.

Highland Cow
Highland Cow

Continuing on a small tarred road we reach the main road, before turning onto a path at Glen Rosa Bridge. we then join one of the many paths around the Castle to arrive back at the start.

The walk has taken 2.5 hours and it has been very pleasant. In wet weather it would be much harder because of the boggy ground so progress would be a bit slower.

Life-saver

The outdoor shop in Brodick, Outdoor Active,  is very good and can be a life-saver in times when equipment fails or has been left behind in the hills.

Post Walk Refreshments

There is a pleasant walk back to Brodick through the golf course and along the shore to for a pleasant meal at the bar bistro ‘Eilean Mor’ before returning on the ferry to Ardrossan.

Benefits of Using Walking Poles

I have been using walking poles for a few years now. My first pair were from budget supermarket Aldi which served me well until the tips wore out.

Leki and Fizan Walking Poles

My current ones are a pair of carbon fibre Makula poles made by Leki and another pair made by Fizan, which I use for hills walking. The Fizan ones are the Everest model, which have an extended grip, allowing the poles to be used for climbing, without having to shorted the pole length.

Leki walking poles
Leki Walking Poles

The Leki poles are made in Germany and the Fizan ones made in Italy, so both are top quality. Both are light weight and neither have shock absorbers built into them.

The Leki carbon fibre ones are ideal for walking on flat paths and trails and are nice and light to use and to carry.

The weight of poles is important because if the poles are too heavy you will not want to carry them with you when out walking.

I like my poles but some of my friends have to be convinced of their usefulness and think they just get in the way.

Testing Usefulness of Walking Poles

To check the usefulness of the poles I walked around Chatelherault Country Park one afternoon without poles and on another with the poles. The distance was 5.66 miles.

I used my Garmin ETrex GPS device to provide details of the trip, including the average and maximum walking speed.

The results were:

Without Poles:
Ave Speed 4.1 MPH
Max Speed 6.2 MPH

With Poles
Ave Speed 4.7 MPH
Max Speed 7.0 MPH

The results about show that poles do provide an advantage and allow faster walking over varied terrain as encountered at Chatelherault. I was also less tired using the poles and my legs did not feel as heavy as they were without the poles.

Advantages of Walking Poles

The poles allow my arms to do some of the work and take the strain off my legs. They also help me climb slopes faster and descend quicker, as I can keep my balance better on descents. My knees were also not sore, which is something I get from vigorous exercise due to my well-developed leg muscles.

I recommend walking poles to anyone who has never used them. Buy a cheap pair first to get used to using them, then buy a more expensive pair later on. Good makes include Leki, Fizan and Black Diamond, as  spares can be bought to replace any worn out parts.