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The Stunning Beauty In New Lanark And Falls Of Clyde Will Make You Feel Inspired

20 January 2022

If you’re short of ideas on what to do on a one-day trip in Scotland, we recommend New Lanark and the Falls of Clyde as a strong contender.

Well worth a visit for both its historic and natural features, the area offers something for everyone, from relaxing strolls and a dip into history, to adventurous hikes and wildlife spotting.

Just one hour from Glasgow and Edinburgh, New Lanark is a village of 130 souls nestled in the Clyde Valley in Central Scotland.

It’s famous for its restored 18th-century mills, which made it a textile hub during the Industrial Revolution, earning it the title of World Heritage site in 2001. It counts more than 300,000 visitors every year.

Not far from the village, you’ll find the Falls of Clyde, the River Clyde’s only waterfalls. The route through the rich nature reserve alone is worth the walk there, with colourful woods all year-round and a chance to spot rare birds and beautiful woodland animals.

How to Get Here

If you’re coming from Glasgow, take the M74 to Carlisle and exit onto Lanark Road, running along the lush Clyde Valley, through picturesque villages.

But if you’re making the journey from Edinburgh, take the A70 going through Carstairs. You’ll carry on into the town of Lanark, and directions to New Lanark are well signposted.

Prefer to leave the car at home? The village is also easily accessible through public transport.

Before you arrive, you’ll reach a car park dedicated to the World Heritage site – parking inside the village is reserved for residents.

From here, you can take a few minutes’ walk down to the Clyde bank or board the shuttle bus, which runs between the car park and the village every ten minutes.

The Village

Built around its renowned cotton mills powered by the river, New Lanark is now home to 65 households and hosts visitors’ attractions, a hotel, a hostel, and a shop and café.

Wander around the characteristic 18th-century stone buildings, once one of the largest industrial groups in the world. The complex is perfectly conserved thanks to restoration work by UNESCO, in partnership with the local authority and the New Lanark Trust.

Walk in the footsteps of David Dale, the merchant founder of the mills, and let yourself be transported back to industrial-era Scotland.

You’ll be granted access to the Annie McLeod Experience Ride, the ‘People, Cotton & Machinery’ exhibition, the Roof Garden, and Robert Owen’s School for Children including the ‘Tenement Through Time’ and ‘It Takes a Village’ exhibitions.  

If you’re visiting on Saturdays or Sundays, you’ll also find a makers market selling local delicacies like Scottish tablets and pies, as well as art pieces, ceramics, and upcycled furniture.

The woodlands walk

At the edge of the village, a short walk along the river takes you to the main waterfalls, as part of the Clyde Walkway.

The beginning part is on a clear path with steps and up and down sections passing through the river gorge – you’ll see the rest of the walk is along a boarded walkway running next to more gentle waters, where the woodlands cast perfect reflections.

For this reason, we think the stroll is better enjoyed during autumn, between October and November, when the trees turn vibrant shades of red, yellow, and orange.

The atmosphere here is very relaxing, and we recommend stopping at one of the benches along the way to fully take in the fresh scents and soothing sounds of the forest.

If you’re lucky, you’ll spot woodland creatures like otters, badgers, red squirrels, and foxes. But also keep an eye out for the rare birds populating this wildlife reserve, like the dipper and the kingfisher.

The waterfalls

The Falls of Clyde is a group of four distinct waterfalls, or linns as the Scots would say, of which Corra Linn is the highest at 26 metres.

First, you’ll see Dundaff Linn, sitting right at the edge of the World Heritage site next to the iconic octagonal chimney. Continuing from the boardwalk, you’ll pass a house and, bearing right, reach the Bonnington hydropower station.

After a short uphill section through the wood, the majestic Corra Linn amphitheater - a rock wall surrounding the riverbed - will open up in front of you, revealing the waterfalls in all their beauty.

There are two viewpoints to take a snap of the falls. The highest of the two also provides access to the rest of the path, which continues until the Bonnington Linn, a cluster of lower falls often dubbed the “Niagara Falls” of Scotland.

From here, it’s possible to cross to the other bank and hike to the Clydesholm Bridge and back to Lanark, or even to the hamlet of Nemphlar, where you’ll find the last waterfall, Stonebyres Linn.

However, this is a much longer walk spanning eight miles, while the path to Corra Linn can be retraced back to New Lanark in one and a half to two hours, for a total of four miles.

Whether you decide to take a full tour of the falls or just have a stroll and be captivated by the views of Corra Linn in New Lanark, we suggest exploring the area on an action-packed day trip for a truly unique experience between nature and history.