Helen Rose Outdoor Diary: New Lanark and Falls of Clyde.


January, 2022

New Lanark

New Lanark is a village on the River Clyde near Lanark and some 25 miles (40 km) southeast of Glasgow, my home city. It was founded in 1786 by David Dale who built cotton mills and housing for the mill workers. Dale built the mills there in a brief partnership with the English inventor and entrepreneur Richard Arkwright to take advantage of the water power provided by the only waterfalls on the River Clyde. I had a walk here in the autumn organised by the Glasgow Ramblers

The weather was dry and we were on good paths on the circular walk. We had taken the train to Lanark from Glasgow and walked to New Lanark, a distance of 1.4 miles. There is an hourly connecting bus from the station which we used on the return journey. There’s also a car park near the village. The riverside path is part of the Clyde Walkway.


New Lanark Mill Village is a World Heritage Site and one of Scotland’s six UNESCO World Heritage Sites. A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance. The sites are judged to contain cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.

To be selected, a World Heritage Site must somehow be a unique landmark which is geographically and historically identifiable and has special cultural or physical significance. World Heritage Sites might be ancient ruins or historical structures, buildings, cities, deserts, forests, islands, lakes, monuments, mountains, or wilderness areas. A World Heritage Site may signify a remarkable accomplishment of humanity, and serve as evidence of our intellectual history on the planet, or it might be a place of great natural beauty. As of July 2021, a total of 1,154 World Heritage Sites (897 cultural, 218 natural, and 39 mixed properties) exist across 167 countries.  Scotland has six UNESCO sites;

The Antonine Wall runs across central Scotland and marked the most northerly and most complex frontier of the Roman Empire nearly 2,000 years ago. Neolithic Orkney. New Lanark. The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh. St Kilda. The Forth Rail Bridge.

The only one I have not visited of the six is St Kilda as I have been forced back by the weather twice from Harris, maybe third time lucky? It is a very remote island out in the Atlantic Ocean and boat trips are very weather dependent.

Robert Owen

Since 1974, New Lanark has been restored and became the UNESCO site in 2001 for its Outstanding Universal Value, Authenticity and Integrity. Robert Owen was the son in law of David Dale, the founder of New Lanark in 1785. The mills finally closed in 1968. Robert Owen (1771-1858) was an early industrialist. He is perhaps best known for his model textile factory and village at New Lanark. Conditions in early factories were extremely harsh with very hazardous working conditions for all employees. He was a Welsh philanthropist and founder of utopian socialism and the cooperative movement. It was market day in New Lanark so we could purchase sweet things and craftwork. The walk started from here and we continued on good paths with good river views. Boardwalks have been installed on the marshy sections.

Bonington Hydro Electric

We walked across the bridge over the river after the Bonington Hydro Elecctic building as we were on a circular route. The bridge had been built in Ipswich in 1936 after the Hydro Electric scheme was installed. The Bonnington Hydro scheme on the Clyde, about four miles from Lanark, was constructed in the mid-1920s and opened in December 1927. It was the first major hydroelectric project for the public supply of electricity in Scotland. The scheme utilises the head or height of water provided by two of the Falls of Clyde, Bonnington Linn and Cora Linn. Water is abstracted at intakes above the falls by automatically adjusted tilting weirs and conveyed by tunnels 10 feet in diameter, totalling some 1200 yards in length, to the power station downstream where twin turbo-alternators produce 9.8MW of electricity. Read all the technical details.

Falls of Clyde

We walked alongside the river and saw the very beautiful falls. The Falls of Clyde comprise the upper falls of Bonnington Linn, Corra Linn, Dundaff Linn, and the lower falls of Stonebyres Linn. Corra Linn is the highest, with a fall of 26 metres. The area has long been a popular destination for visitors. The Wordsworths, Coleridge and Sir Walter Scott all visited the falls. In 1802, William Wordsworth immortalised Corra Linn, the largest of the waterfalls, in verse. Corra Linn has also been painted by a number of artists, including J.M.W. Turner. The name comes from the Scottish Gaelic ‘currach’ meaning a marshy place. A legend gives ‘Cora’ as a daughter of King Malcolm II, who leapt to her death here whilst trying to escape imagined danger. The path is part of the Clyde Walkway.

We noticed some people standing on the rocks on the river which seemed very dangerous as the descent is on slippery rocks. They were looking for a vantage point for a photograph of themselves on the rocks with the falls behind them.

Forest Walk

We continued the walk through the forest and had a lunch stop looking over to the David Dale buildings in New Lanark. Indeed, a beautiful lunch spot with the view across the river.

We continued through the forest until we reached the bridge to cross the river and walked back to New Lanark where we had refreshments at the Mill Café. They sell New Lanark Ice Cream to their own recipe. See information on the visitor facilities at New Lanark

We returned to Lanark on the bus to catch the train back to Glasgow looking back at the view we had seen at the start of the walk to the falls. The walk was about 8 miles including the initial walk from the station. It was a walk through history on a beautiful river.

Coming attractions. New York, Castle Semple Trail and University of Glasgow.





New York. February 2022.
Helen Rose's Outdoor Diary: Ardrishaig. December 2021

This section: Helen Rose Hillwalking Diary

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