On and off the Clyde.
There were two obstacles today: the large towns of Motherwell and Hamilton straddling the Clyde and a complicated motorway system where I had read that it may be necessary to catch a bus around major roadworks. We found more problems in the streets of Blantyre.
From our morning bus we recrossed Garrion Bridge and sped up the hectic road to seek The Clyde Walkway going off down a lane. it wasn’t signed, waymarks and posts have a mysterious habit of disappearing from roads. The traffic noise faded and soon we were in beautiful woodland and showing our, or at least my, lack of knowledge at tree identification.
We continued to see a garlic-like plant we had noticed for the last few days growing prolifically in the shade alongside the river, it looked introduced and invasive. Research showed it to be the Few-flowered Garlic, Allium paradoxum, which we had never seen before and is obviously a nuisance. I have in my garden the bluebell like Three-cornered Garlic Allium triquetrum a similarly invasive species which although attractive I am constantly battling with.
Most of our walk along the Clyde here was on a flood plain with lots of evidence of previous high waters, there were in fact signed alternatives for when the river was high. On the hill above us were high rise flats in the vicinity of Motherwell, are these the ones you see driving north on the motorway? But generally the towns had little impact on the walk. All seemed rural and peaceful especially looking back to our old friend Tinto Hill.
Around us was the old Hamilton Estate but to be honest we didn’t see any of the remaining ruins. If we had had more time it would have been interesting to explore some of the obviously popular paths around Dalzell House in the estate. There was a nature reserve, Barons Haugh, with observation hides over the marshes but without binoculars all we could see were the flats.
The railway Ross Viaduct was a landmark high above us.
The boom boom of loudspeakers was an intrusive element of the day and totally unnecessary in a ‘country park’ but it was good to see people out enjoying themselves. We followed the masses alongside the artificial loch which was centrepiece for the 2014 Commonwealth Games water sports venue.
At the North end of the loch the River Clyde had disappeared somewhere and we ended up on roads to a restaurant at the Innkeepers Lodge where we enjoyed a coffee in the sun and discussed our options for onward travel. The bus transfer was still advertised but the new pedestrian bridges and walkways through the motorway complexes had literally just been opened days before so we followed our noses on a carousel of paths. I’m not sure what we crossed over or where we ended up but the Bothwell Bridge over the Clyde appeared and at its far side a way-post down to the river path. Unfortunately this didn’t last long and soon we were back up on the roadside following our instincts. This we did through a good part of Blantyre urban area. A cyclist approached us looking for a cycle shop to buy inner tubes, he’d had a lot of punctures. We couldn’t help which was a shame as he also was on a LEJG journey. We eventually realised we must have missed something so before entering a huge shopping complex decided to strike off down a side street and under the railway to luckily join up with Clyde Walkway on a newly surfaced path which had come from we know not where.
Soon we were at The David Livingstone Centre. This includes the listed building of his birth, surrounding parkland, and a 3,000 piece David Livingstone collection. We managed unintentionally to miss it all, I presume it may have been closed.
An elegant iron cantilevered suspension bridge, built in 1952 but rebuilt more recently in 2000, took us onto the north bank of the Clyde for our final stretch. And what a delightful stretch. woodland, bluebells, sparkling river, dippers and a kingfisher. Suddenly ahead up in the tree covered banks was a red sandstone castle looking impregnable. Boswell castle was started in the 13th century and played a major roll in the Scottish Wars of Independence.
We diverted off the route into a place named Uddingston to find the station only to find no trains running but there was a replacement bus which eventually arrived and took us into Glasgow for our two nights of accommodation.