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Tour Scotland, The River Clyde

Rising in obscure hills around Elvanfoot and Leadhills in south-east Lanarkshire, the river Clyde, in less than one hundred miles, is a mighty enough waterway to take the largest of liners. Known once as the world-wide as the home of good ships, the Clyde has in fact three faces, the other two being first the quiet hurrying headwaters, a home for trout in profusion, and, second, the holiday
estuary of the Firth, with pleasure craft, sailing dinghies and holiday centres galore.

From streams that flow north from the borders of Peebleshire and Lanarkshire, like Midlock Water that rises on Clyde Law (1,789 feet) and Snar Water that begins life above Wanlock Dod just across the border from Ayr, the Clyde is fed and runs its young course down the
remote valley below Arbory Hill near Abington towards Biggar. The trout in these headwaters are noted for their size and grayling also abound. The river here by-passes Biggar but flows through the former weaving village of Symington and past the scant remnants of the old castle
which once guarded the route north. Joined by the river Medwin from the Pentland Hills and the Douglas Water
from the moors to the west, the Clyde cuts a great arc around Pettinain before the charming falls of Clyde are reached above Lanark. There are actually three sets of falls, Cora Linn, Bonnington Linn and Stonebyres Linn although a hydro-electric scheme has somewhat
diminished their grandeur.

Below Lanark the Clyde is surrounded by delightful orchard country especially near Crossford and Kirkfieldbank but after the Avon Water joins the Clyde
near Hamilton it becomes more of a working river. Hamilton itself has been a royal burgh since 1548 and the ancient site of Cadzow Castle the original home of the Hamilton family is nearby. Further on, at Bothwell Bridge, then a strategically important crossing of the Clyde, the Covenanters met defeat at the hands of Monmouth’s troopers in 1679.

The great 19th century expansion of Glasgow saw the river taken in hand for further development and it was deepened to utilise its waters for shipbuilding. Soon Clydebank came to be world renowned for well built ships and its reputation has lasted down to this day. From the shipyards of the Clyde have come such famous ships as the liners Queen Mary. Queen Elizabeth and Queen Elizabeth II and such magnificent fighting ships as the Hood and Ark Royal. Not surprisingly the city prospered and continued to expand and for the growing population the most popular escape was the lung of the Clyde.
“Doon the watter” became their principal means of entertainmment. for it is below Glasgow, where the river
opens out into the wide and scenic Firth of Clyde, that the river’s third and final transformation takes place and here the splendour of the mountains provides a breathtaking backdrop to the sparkling waters.

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