Not a member?
Register and login now.

Issue 63 - Glasgow & the Clyde Valley

Scotland Magazine Issue 63
June 2012


This article is 6 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

Copyright Scotland Magazine © 1999-2018. All rights reserved. To use or reproduce part or all of this article please contact us for details of how you can do so legally.

Glasgow & the Clyde Valley

The River Clyde resonates throughout the history of Scotland's west coast in both legend and song. There will be many who recall the words of the worldwide success of the great Kenneth McKellar's The Song of the Clyde written by RY Bell and Ian Gourlay: “And I'm satisfied whate'er may betide, The sweetest of songs is the song of the Clyde.”

It is a song about affection and triumph, with that unique sparkle of Glasgow humour. This great waterway which modestly springs from its source in the Lowther Hills of South Lanarkshire and flows ever onward to the sea at Greenock and Dumbarton is formed by the confluence of two streams, the Daer Water and the Potrail Water. The River Clyde is the ninth longest river in the United Kingdom, and the third longest in Scotland.

As a result, the Clyde Valley through which it lows is a region of remarkable contrasts.

With so much of Scotland’s central belt turned over historically to industrial development and mining, it is easy to forget just how beautiful are parts of the Clyde Valley resplendent with an abundance of fruit growing orchards and rich farmland.

Nevertheless, the prosperity of the Clyde Valley at the start of the Industrial Revolution was powerfully influenced by its location next to the town, now the city, of Glasgow which, being an estuary port serving the Americas, and thus the immensely profitable tobacco and cotton trades, coupled with a global demand for iron, steel and ship building, fuelled enormous wealth and prosperity for the entire region. The stories of the Cotton Kings and Tobacco Lords of Glasgow will be told another time, but in the Victorian era entrepreneurial genius was stirring throughout the region.

For example, on a visit to South Lanarkshire in the 18th century, one man saw the potential for something truly innovatory. David Dale was an Ayrshire-born cloth merchant who was looking for a location in which to create a model working village. By harnessing the spinning frame recently developed by an English inventor, Richard Arkwright, to the Falls of Clyde, he was able to set up the New Lanark mills to create employment for 2,500 workers.

Today, the cotton industry has passed into history, but the village of New Lanark, including the mill buildings, has been restored and the surrounding area, which includes the Falls of Clyde - Bonnington Linn, Corra Linn, Dundaff Linn, and the lower falls of Stonebyres Linn - has been transformed into a World Heritage Site and a nature reserve managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

Motherwell, next to the M74 motorway was once the steel production capital of Scotland where the Ravenscraig plant boasted one of the longest continuous casting, hot rolling steel production facilities in the world. The closure in 1992 signalled the end of large scale steel making in Scotland Between the towns of Motherwell and Hamilton, the course of the river was altered to create an artificial loch within Strathclyde Park, before flowing on to Blantyre and Bothwell.

These lands were long ago dominated by the powerful Hamilton family, who descended from Walter Fitz Gilbert, Governor of Bothwell Castle. Changing sides to support Robert the Bruce during the Scottish Wars of Independence, he was generously rewarded after the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 with the lands Bruce confiscated from his rivals, the Comyns, and was later given the Barony and lands of Cadzow, which in time would become the town of Hamilton.

Strathclyde Park occcupies what was once known as the Low parks of Hamiton Palace, built in 1695 and a former seat of the dukes of Hamilton. It was considered to have been one of the grandest houses in Scotland by the time it was demolished in 1922, undermined by mining works.

Today, the parkland in which it used to sit offers many public amenities and attractions such as coarse angling, woodland walks, watersports, and a camping and caravaning site. Châtelherault was a French title acquired by the Hamilton dukedom, and was also the name given to the Hamilton’s hunting lodge. It comprises of two pavilions linked by a gateway and was designed by the architect William Adam. Completed in 1734, its north facade was visible from the palace.

Following the death of the 14th Duke, however, the Hamilton Palace estate was handd over to the Government in lieu of death duties and Historic Scotland has since renovated the lodge, providing a visitor centre at the rear. The lodge and park are now managed by South Lanarkshire Council.

The renowned missionary and explorer David Livingstone was born at Blantyre, where his life is celebrated by the National Trust for Scotland at The David Livingstone Centre, based in the house in which he was born and on the site of the mill in which he started his working life. From 1862 until his death 11 years later, he owned a house in Hamilton on Burnbank Road which today carries a plaque in his memory.

As it enters into the southeast of Glasgow, past Uddingston, the River Clyde widens as its passes through Rutherglen and Dalmarnock, past Glasgow Green and the Clyde Arc to Finnieston and onwards through Govan, Partick, Whiteinch, Scotstoun and Clydebank. West of the city, it passes Renfrew and under the Erskine Bridge with Dumbarton on the north shore culminating at the sandbank at Ardmore Point between Cardross and Helensburgh. On the southern shore, it flows past the Lower Clyde shipyard at Port Glasgow to Greenock where it emerges into the Firth of Clyde.

Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and the third most populous in the UK. Its personality is vibrant, creating a busy mix of commerce, retail and colourful night life. Given its Royal Burgh status in 1454, three years after the foundation of its university, Glasgow did not come into its own until the 18th and 19th centuries when it truly “flourished.” Its geographical location, of course, was all important.

Situated two thirds of the way up the west coast of Britain with an estuary on the western seaboard, it was the ideal place for servicing Britain’s burgeoning international trade routes.

By the end of the 18th century, Glasgow was recognised as a major gateway to the New World which, as a result, created a period of spectacular prosperity which might have ended with the 1775 American War of Independence, but did not.

With the River Clyde widened and deepened, large ships were able to offload their cargoes as far upstream as the city centre. As Glasgow transformed itself into the ship bulding hub of the world, the prospect of employment in the yards attracted thousands of workers from Highland and Lowland Scotland, and from Northern Ireland, only a short distance across the Irish Sea. As a result, the population exploded.

Glasgow’s visitor attractions are legion, from the marble halls of the magnificent City Chambers in George Square to the Burrell Collection of exotic atrefacts housed in a purpose-built museum in Pollok Park. Many of Glasgow’s more iconic buildings have been transformed into boutique hotels, stylish bars and restaurants with the shops of Princes Square, Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street on a level with the best international destinations.

Although its sprawling suburbs can be confusing as motorways head off north, south, east and west, the centre of Glasgow occupies a classic grid system on the northern bank of the River Clyde. A relaxed stroll along the Broomielaw on a summer’s day is a pure delight.

In the city centre, the word of Glasgow’s favourite son, the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh can be seen at his award winning Glasgow School of Art, the Willow Tea Room, at the Mackintosh House, at the Hunterian Art Gallery and in the House of the Art Lover at Bellahouston Park. For art traditionalists, however, it is the supmptuous contents of the recently refurbished Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum that surpass.

Be sure to take in the 17th century Tolbooth and Tron Steeple; the carpet manufacturer Templeton’s grand building of 1889, modelled on the Doge’s Palace in Venice; the People’s Palace, containing memorabilia from Glasgow’s trades, and especially the 100m rotating Glasgow tower on Pacific Quay, not to mention the Armadillo, the shellshaped Clyde Auditorium next to the Scottish Exhibition Centre on Finnieston Quay.

Scheduled to welcome the Commonwealth Games in 2014, Glasgow continues to flourish, and for those with an adventurous spirit, it continues to astonish.

Glasgow Self Catering Apartments Glasgow
A choice of one or two bedroom apartments in the city that offer that home-away-from-home experience.
Tel: +44 (0)141 585 4310

Citizen M Renfrew Street, Glasgow
Contemporary boutique hotel in the centre of the city. A great choice for trendy young things.
Tel: +44 (0)141 404 9485

Number 10 Hotel Queens Drive, Glasgow
Luxury four-star hotel offering 26 ensuite rooms in a stylish Victorian terrace.
Tel: +44 (0)141 424 0160

Glasgow Guest House Dumbreck Road, Glasgow
Seven beautifully decorated ensuite rooms in this friendly and popular bed and breakfast. A real gem.
Tel: +44 (0)141 427 0129

Grand Central Hotel Gordon Street, Glasgow
Iconic building that has undergone a recent £20million development to turn it into one of the city’s leading large hotels.
Tel: +44 (0)141 240 3700

Kerse Farm Lochwinnoch
Family run dairy farm offering comfortable bed & breakfast accommodation ideally located for touring the Ayrshire coast.
Tel: +44 (0)1505 502 400

Popinjay Hotel & Spa Rosebank
Stylish hotel offering 34 ensuite rooms hidden behind the exterior of a traditional coaching inn.
Tel: +44 (0)1555 860 441

St Catherine’s Lanark
Comfy guesthouse featuring friendly hosts and a great breakfast. Rates begin at £25 per person per night.
Tel: +44 (0)1555 662 295

Lawford Lodge Bonnybridge, nr Falkirk
Self catering holiday cottage overlooking the Ochil and Campsie Hills. Newly-built lodge can sleep up to six people.
Tel: +44 (0)1324 813 090

The Victorian House Renfrew Street, Glasgow
Townhouse bed and breakfast, offering basic but clean and comfortable accommodation in the city.
Tel: +44 (0)141 332 0129


Holmwood House Netherlee Road, Glasgow
Beautiful historic house designed by famous Glasgow architect Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson. Explore many richly ornamented rooms and extensive gardens.
Tel: +44 (0)844 493 2204

New Lanark World Heritage Site, New Lanark
An 18th century cotton mill village nestling on the banks of the River Clyde. The unique history of the place is brought to life through a variety of visitor attractions such as the Annie McLeod Experience, where the ghost of a mill girl tells the story of life in New Lanark in 1820.
Tel: +44 (0)1555 661 345

House for an Art Lover Bellahouston Park, Glasgow
A truly unique building designed at the turn of the 20th century to showcase the talents of renowned architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Tel: +44 (0)141 353 4770

National Museum of Rural Life East Kilbride
Five-star museum and working farm that thoroughly explores Scotland’s rural heritage, both past and present.
Tel: +44 (0)300 123 6789

University of Glasgow
Student-led tours through this wonderfully gothic 550 year old campus operate every Thursdaythrough- Sunday at 2pm.
Tel: +44 (0)141 330 2000

Glengoyne Distillery Drumgoyne
Picturesque whisky distillery just 11 miles from Glasgow. A variety of tours run on the hour and provide an amazing insight in to the production of Scotch whisky.
Tel: +44 (0)1360 550 254

People’s Palace and Winter Gardens Glasgow Green, Glasgow
Interactive social history museum telling the story of Glasgow and its people from 1750 to the end of the 20th century. Stroll among the exotic flora in the adjacent Winter Gardens.
Tel: +44 (0)141 276 0788

Necropolis Glasgow
A vast hilltop cemetery, also known as the Victorian city of the dead. Spooky and wonderful. Friends of Glasgow Necropolis run fascinating tours on many weekends.

Tenement House Buccleuch Street, Glasgow
A unique kind of social history museum. The Tenement House is a typical four-room flat, circa 1892. Step back in time to Glasgow in the Victorian era.
Tel: +44 (0)844 493 2197

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum Argyle Street, Glasgow
World-class museum boasting one of Europe’s greatest collections of civic art in 22 state of the art galleries.
Tel: +44 (0)141 276 9599


Black Sheep Bistro Clarendon Street, Glasgow
This bright little restaurant is fully licensed and serves home cooked meals just like mama used to make.
Tel: +44 (0)141 333 1435

Fanny Trollope’s Argyle Street, Glasgow
Fantastic neighbourhood bistro serving homecooked Scottish food near Kelvingrove Park.
Tel: +44 (0)141 564 6464

Guy’s Restaurant and Bar Candleriggs, Glasgow
Cosy, romantic and contemporary restaurant with an eclectic menu, right in the heart of Merchant City.
Tel: +44 (0)141 552 1114

Two Fat Ladies at the Buttery Argyle Street, Glasgow
Fine food in an atmospheric oakpanelled dining room. There are three restaurants across the city bearing the name of the eponymous ‘Two Fat Ladies.’ This one has a speciality in seafood.
Tel: +44 (0)141 847 0088

Roastit Bubbly Jocks Dumbarton Road, Glasgow
Stylish restaurant specialising in casual dining and contemporary Scottish cuisine. A real find. The steaks are superb.
Tel: +44 (0)141 339 3355

Inn on the Loch Lanark
Busy lochside restaurant serving good pub food.
Tel: +44 (0)1555 663 638

Rissons at Spingvale Strathaven
Traditional Scottish cuisine with a modern twist. Also has rooms.
Tel: +44 (0)1357 521 131

Skirling House Skirling, Biggar
Four course set menu each evening, in a luxury B&B hosted by Bob and Isobel Hunter.
Tel: +44 (0)1899 860 274

Steayban Glassford, Strathaven
Fine dining in intimate surroundings. Specialities include local game and seafood.
Tel: +44 (0)1357 523 400

The Butterfly & The Pig Bath Street, Glasgow
Quirky bar with an eclectic menu of favourite dishes that changes daily.
Tel: +44 (0)141 221 7711

Uplawmoor Hotel Uplawmoor
Award winning restaurant, whose signature dish of steak with haggis inspires “gasps of admiration”.
Tel: +44 (0)1505 850 565