Helen Rose Walking Diary
During the winter I had took part in an interesting walk organised by Stephen in the HF Club Outdoor Club . The walk was entitled 'Around Lanark'. Lanark is a small town in the central lowland belt, about an hour by car from Glasgow. The name is believed to come from the Cumbric Lanerc meaning "clear space, glade". The area is probably best known for the nearby New Lanark, which is a World Heritage Site. It's famous for the 18th century social pioneer Robert Owen who founded the setting up of a large mill at New Lanark as a Utopian Society. However, this walk was from the town of Lanark, which is an interesting historically.
We travelled by train from Glasgow to Lanark as we are environmentally friendly and like to use public transport where possible. We walked from the town to Castlebank House on the outskirts to the Wallace Memorial Rose garden with the splendid wooden statue of Wallace and other interesting wood carvings. This in Wallace’s time would have been part of the ancient Clyde Forest through which Wallace made his escape to the river Clyde before going upstream to hide out in the cave near the Falls of Clyde. In May 1297, William Wallace attacked the town of Lanark, killing the English sheriff and unrest quickly became a full-blown rebellion. Men flocked to join Wallace as he began to drive the English out of Fife and Perthshire.
We walked on over the Cartland Craigs and through the Cleghorn Woods, taking care on the path as it is steep sided into the gorge. Every June, hundreds of people join the Lanimer procession to check the 15 boundary or ‘march’ stones, some of which are in the nature reserve. During the procession, many people carry birch twigs taken from the Cleghorn Glen woodlands. This tradition started in the 1840s when an ancient dispute with the Lairds of Jerviswood came to a head as the Lairds would not allow people across the land. We have no such problem now in Scotland as in the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 there is a right of responsible non-motorised access, for recreational and other purposes, to land and inland water throughout Scotland with few exceptions. This makes planning walks so much easier. Within the woods we saw various types of fungi growing on the path, including a very small one with a red cap.
We continued through the woods with the river known as Mousewater to our side. It is pronounced Moosewater and is a tributary of the River Clyde. It is popular with canoeists. In the past, the fast flowing river was used to power mills and factories along its route and is still used today to produce hydroelectricity. There are bridges where the roads cross the river and these are built of stone. The sides of the river were originally red sandstone but this has been eroded over the years. The trees are still coppiced to let in the light. There are rapids and we stopped near one for lunch where there were convenient logs placed to sit on.
When we reached the open countryside, we spotted some Jacob Sheep, which are a rare breed of small piebald, white with black spots and unusual multiple horns. They are sometimes kept as pets and ornamental animals and have been used as guard animals to protect farm property from theft or vandalism and defend other livestock against predators. The Jacob is descended from an ancient Old World of sheep, although its exact origins remain unclear. Spotted polycerate sheep were documented in England by the middle of the 17th century, and were widespread a century later.
It was then back to Lanark as a circular walk and a visit to a hostelry before catching the train back to Glasgow.
It was an interesting walk with fine weather, fascinating historical features and lots of banter in the group. Never a dull moment on a group walk.
Many thanks to Stephen for leading the walk. It is a lot of work planning and recceing a walk and then leading it on the day and we all appreciate his hard work.
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Thanks to Marty Douglas for the photos.
Photograph courtesy of Jacob Sheep Society.