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|Days N34 - N39 Southern Scotland|
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English West Country
North of England
Friday, April 27, 2007
Time of departure: 8.45 am
Time of arrival: 6.45 pm
Place departed: Crawford, South Lanarkshire
Place arrived: New Lanark, South Lanarkshire
Cum miles: 611.7
Percent complete: 65.9
New Lanark Youth Hostel ****
Cost (bed only): £13.50 ($27)
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|All these shots are from the trail through the Falls of Clyde|
|Today was least interesting when I was fresh, and
most interesting when I was exhausted. It didn't help that I left the B&B
at Crawford later than I intended.
My late departure was caused by an absence of heat last night. A warm radiator is a wonderful clothes dryer, drying most anything in an hour or two and leaving clothes nice and warm to wear. On the other hand, a cold radiator is worse than no radiator at all because it impedes the drying process by stopping airflow through the clothes.
I awoke to wet clothes. The landlord denied any problem when I mentioned it at breakfast, but the radiator was piping hot for the first time during my stay when I went back to my room after breakfast. I decided to tarry a half-hour to get my clothes as dry as possible in that time.
My route today started on the B7078, a similar road to yesterday's B7076. Again, it paralleled the south-north M74 freeway, but today was a good mile from it, and so more peaceful. As before, it had little traffic and a dedicated quite-separate bike track too, superfluous given that there were no bikes and the road also was almost empty. I saw but ten people on the route the whole of today, not counting those in cars, and didn't pass a single store except for a tiny one in Abingdon near the start.
The grass verge on today's roads gave me some foot relief. Typically a grass verge outside the cities is afflicted by uneven-ness, mud, animal holes or mounds, rocks, roots, ruts from tractor tires, deep tracks from big-rig tires, or thorn bushes, making them pretty useless except as a refuge when you step off the road to avoid traffic, rest, or urinate. But today's grass verges were better than most. A step on grass is less painful on the foot though more tiring on the ankle. It was good to share the stress between the two.
After about twelve miles on this and similar roads, I left the freeway corridor altogether and headed northeast. I was approaching the intended highlight of today's walk. I had worked out a route to New Lanark following the River Clyde on trails, past the Falls of Clyde and entering the World Heritage Village where there's a modern youth hostel, which my telephone research indicated had ample availability.
It took another two miles on a curved, hilly stretch of the A70 to reach Rigside, so-named (I think) because there is a sizable truck depot there which made the A70 significantly nerve-wracking since there was no footpath. Then, for four miles, I took country lanes through Douglas Water, before I reached the Falls of Clyde park. Now, with 18 miles behind me, I was pooped. And that's just when the route became beautiful and interesting.
At 5.30 pm, when I started to walk along its banks, the Clyde was a tranquil river with swans, running slowly between civilized grassy banks with shade trees. In this section, a few miles south of Lanark, it's made for a picnic or just relaxing. Then, heading north, the rapids and waterfalls begin, set in a rocky riverbed in a steep gorge. The sound of the water echoes from the river canyon. The trail is high above the banks, amid trees, but still giving great views. There are lookout points, and there are even seats. In this area, there's an ongoing peregrine conservation project. Then, later, there's a weir, and beyond one arrives at New Lanark village with restored historical buildings and a large mill wheel. It’s hard to believe that this tranquil setting was once the site of the biggest cotton center in Scotland.
There was ample room at the youth hostel - it was about 20-percent occupied - but they insisted on filling one room before starting on the next. That makes the cleaning easier, but isn't as nice for the residents. Still, the price was right, the location was beautiful, and I was too tired to keep trekking anyway. From my room overlooking the Clyde, I pondered on the transformation the river must take between here and Glasgow but 30-miles away. Thereabouts it becomes the Firth of Clyde, and with nearby cities like Greenock was once the shipbuilding capital of the world, in 1910 producing an annual tonnage equal to no fewer than ten of today's superliners.
I decided to take my second rest day here, even if the weather was fine. I badly needed it after 26 days since my last one. I had clothes to wash, toiletries to buy, legs to rest, a mouth that needed a slowly-sipped beer, and a mind that needed a change of subject.
|Day N37 © 2007 and 2008 Daryl May Day N39|