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.
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
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
diminished their grandeur.
the Clyde is surrounded by delightful orchard country especially
near Crossford and Kirkfieldbank but after the Avon Water joins
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.
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.