Monday, 29 July 2013

Rosebank to Bothwell

It was goodbye to Stuart and Elinor Goldsmith, who caught a taxi back to New Lanark to retrieve their car and resume their holiday by travelling down to the Lake District. Then it was au revoir to Susan, who caught a taxi to Larkhall to go back to Glasgow and thence down to London. The taxi was also to take my luggage on to Bothwell. So I was back to walking alone. This is one of the penalties of walking a long way from where most of my friends live, and choosing to do so in the peak holiday season.

The bridge back over the Clyde
So it was back up the road to the bridge where we had crossed the Clyde the previous afternoon.

Immediately below the bridge I came across a fisherman, clearly after salmon. I hadn’t realised that they run the Clyde, but apparently it’s one of Scotland’s best kept secrets – and a season ticket costs less than £100. July is early, but the river was clearly well up overnight, so there was a chance of a fish. They run only as far as four miles upstream of Rosebank, as they can’t get past the power station, and they spawn in the main river. One of the spawning redds was immediately underneath the bridge, and apparently large numbers of fish can be seen there at the turn of the year. I was told that 46 fish were caught in one day in a pool, right by the Livingstone Centre in Blantyre. Only six were killed. Though there’s no prohibition on killing fish after (as it happened) that very day in July, most are returned.

The Clyde in spate
The river was already quite coloured after the heavy rain over the previous few days, but still fishable. However, the chap I met was giving up just as we talked. Obviously today was not to be a lucky one.

Then it was on down the Clyde valley. Initially it was pleasant enough, a good path along the river and through woodland, and then a track just beneath rising ground to the North. Soon the path gave way to a concrete farm track, which passed within a few hundred metres of ruined Cambusnethan House – a romantic looking derelict building with towers at either end, peeking out through woods over fields of barley. The track then left the river, and my way became a rough path through pasture and cattle. This was genuine countryside, but was overlooked by half a dozen huge tower blocks on the fringes of Wishaw. This was the beginning of the continuous suburbs to the Southeast of Glasgow – though they are very effectively screened by trees for most of the way.

Cambusnethan House (or is it Priory?)
The path then works its way through Barons Haugh nature reserve, apparently managed (at least in part) by the RSPB, with hides overlooking the lake in the bend of the river. This starts with an avenue of lime trees, and then a path lined with willow scrub along the Clyde, mostly hidden from view behind dense low vegetation. I had already seen quite a lot of Himalayan balsam along the river opposite Rosebank, but here it was really rampant. It’s an invasive plant, related to Impatiens, which really loves damp riversides. It’s become a serious problem in East Anglia, and I remember seeing huge drifts of it along the River Eden near Carlisle a couple of years ago when I walked along Hadrian’s Wall. It’s not unattractive, but can really overwhelm everything else.

Clydesdale Country Park amusements
Although the path is shown on the map as going right along the fringes of Motherwell, it’s actually quite well screened from the built up area. It’s actually difficult to believe you’re passing through a pretty extensive built-up area. But it soon becomes apparent that you are back in civilisation as you enter the Strathclyde Country Park. First it’s past boathouses, a restaurant, and a fitness centre; then it’s a long metalled path along the edge of Strathclyde Loch. There were several walkers and cyclists despite the rain. On the opposite bank there’s an amusement park, with a huge Ferris wheel, a roller-coaster, a giant beam with cabins on either end which rotate as they descend, and what looks like a rather exciting bungee jump ride with a cabin suspended from two elastic cables, gyrating madly as it goes up and down. All were in action despite the weather. I wonder whether there are discounts for unfavourable conditions?

Bothwell parish church
The final bit into Bothwell involved navigating a major roundabout at the M74 junction, a rather overgrown path parallel to as main road, and then a further road junction. Here this is a memorial to the battle of Bothwell Bridge in 1679, between the Covenanters and the English Army. I was eager to finish the days walk, and it was still raining, so I failed both to read the monument properly and to take a photograph.  I must do better with the camera! And I must research the battle, and its context, when I’ve finished this year’s part of the walk.

The Bothwell Bridge hotel was a long way from the bridge itself, right in the middle of the town. But it was very welcoming, with an excellent room and excellent beer accompanied by free crisps. Both were very welcome after a rather wet day.

Rain throughout, occasionally fairly heavy. 14 to 18C. 20.68km; River Clyde Walkway; maximum 66m; 129m ascents, 109m descents. Mainly grassy track along the river, but paved cycle/walking track in Strathclyde Country Park and road stretches at beginning and end of the day. 

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