River Clyde. November 2020


Helen Rose Outdoors –  River Clyde

The River Clyde is the eighth-longest river in the United Kingdom, and the second-longest in Scotland at 105 miles. Travelling through Glasgow it was an important river for shipbuilding and trade in the British Empire. The Romans called it Ciota and in early medieval Cumbric it was known as Clud or Clut. It starts before Lanark, the tributary is made of two burns and flows through New Lanark.  The Clyde Walkway runs 40 miles from New Lanark to Glasgow. The Clyde Walkway runs 40 miles from New Lanark to Glasgow. I am going to take you on a trip down the Clyde stopping at three places. You can listen to the Song of the Clyde on your journey!  Song of the Clyde YouTube .


Recently, I did a walk with the Glasgow HF walking Club  around Carluke which is near the banks of the River Clyde. We passed some fishermen fishing for trout which demonstrates how clean the river is at this upper point. The river is fairly wide here.

Carluke is Clydesdale’s largest town with a population of 13,300. It sits on a high plateau overlooking the River Clyde, right in the heart of Lanarkshire’s fruit growing area. Conveniently, there is a train station so we did a circular walk from there down to the River Clyde and back. In the distance we could see Tinto Hill further south.

On our way back to Carluke we passed the memorial in honour of the noted surveyor and cartographer, Major General William Roy. He was a local military engineer and surveyor and an innovator who applied new scientific discoveries and newly emerging technologies to the accurate geodetic mapping of Great Britain. His masterpiece is usually referred to as Roy’s Map of Scotland. It was Roy’s advocacy and leadership that led to the creation of the Ordinance Survey in 1791, the year after his death. His maps and drawings of Roman archaeological sites in Scotland were the first accurate and systematic study of the subject, and have not been improved upon even today. Ordinance Survey maps are well known to hill walkers and I used them when bagging Munros.

On the river travels to our next stop.

Glasgow Riverside Museum

Glasgow was a major shipbuilding area but only one shipbuilders is left on the River Clyde (BAE Systems Surface Ships, which owns the two remaining shipyards on the upper Clyde – the former Yarrow works at Scotstoun and Fairfields at Govan). During the war, the town of Clydebank was badly bombed targeting shipyards and transport. The Transport Museum is on the banks of the Clyde at Glasgow Harbour and the Glenlee Tall Ship is moored there. They form the Glasgow Riverside Museum. I last wrote about the Glenlee in March 2006 before the Transport Museum opened in 2011. The Glenlee was built in Glasgow in 1896 and transported cargo all over the world until 1922 returning in 1992 to be restored by the Clyde Maritime Trust.

The present Riverside Museum at Glasgow Harbour was opened in 2011 and was designed by the late, internationally renowned architect Zaha Hadid. The location of the museum is on the site of the former A&J Inglis Shipyard within Glasgow Harbour on the north bank of the River Clyde and adjacent to its confluence point with the River Kelvin. This site enabled the Clyde Maritime Trust’s Tall Ship Glenlee and other visiting craft to berth alongside the museum. The Riverside Museum has an extensive collection of historic cars, tramcars, trains and ships along with a reconstructed Glasgow Street complete with shop frontages.

Firth of Clyde

The River Clyde continues to the outlet to the sea at the Firth of Clyde, firth meaning in Scots an estuary. On the Glasgow HF Outdoor Club walk to Ben Bowie from Craigendoran we could see the Firth of Clyde clearly. Craigendoran is mentioned in the Song of the Clyde and the name is taken from the Gaelic meaning ‘the rock of the otter’. I have never seen an otter on the Clyde but they must be there somewhere? We could see the Clyde Estuary clearly from the top of Ben Bowie and also the Holy Loch running in to the Firth of Clyde. Ben Bowie is just over 1,050 feet but gives great views over the Estuary and Gareloch. There is a good path to the top and it gains height gradually.

We spotted a submarine coming up from the Gareloch  base in Faslane. There was to be an international military exercise the following week in the area. US troops were based at the Gareloch previously and the Royal Navy headquarters are at Faslane on the Gareloch. The Gareloch is deep and easily navigable. We could also see the wreck known as the Sugar Boat. In 1974, a severe storm caused the Greek boat Captayannis to drag her anchor while she was waiting to deliver sugar and she drifted on to an oil tanker but her anchor chains holed the sugar boat which was flooded and the captain opted to beach her in shallow waters. She remains an attraction for divers at the Tail of the Bank. From the Glasgow Green Tidal Weir, the River Clyde is tidal to the Firth mixing fresh and salt water and providing a deep water port in Greenock across the river at the Tail of the Bank which refers to the end of a sandbank. Many emigrants for Canada and the USA left in ships sailing from Greenock. Greenock on the other side of the river from the Gareloch, could also be seen from Ben Bowie.

These walks were done during the Covd19 Virus restrictions and I must praise the HF Outdoor Club for continuing to run a weekend walking programme and to the leaders who put so much effort in to planning the walk and giving great information.


To keep fit for these walks, I attend various exercise and dance classes. I would recommend Odile at http://www.odilesfitnessboutique.co.uk/ where she does an Active Ageing Class online which is fun and a very good workout. There are other classes too so do check them out on Odile’s website. Odile welcomes enquiries at odiletreanor@gmail.com

Helen Rose, October, 2020

Coming attractions; Rouken Glen Park, Kilpatricks and the North Calder Heritage Trail.

Thanks to Jim McLarnon for the Ben Bowie photo.




Rouken Glen Park. December 2020
Helen Rose's Outdoor Diary: The Whangie October 2020

This section: Helen Rose Hillwalking Diary

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