Saturday, 27 October 2012

Cleghorn Glen to Cartland Craigs

                                                              View Cleghorn Glen to Cartland Bridge in a larger map

Today I went on a walk with my friends from the Scottish Wildlife Trust through the Cleghorn Glen to Cartland Craigs, (known locally as Cartland Crags) which are near Lanark. These are managed by Scottish Natural Heritage and are part of the Clyde Valley Woodlands National Nature Reserve. The word 'craig' is of Gaelic origin, and means "rock" or "rocky".

The weather was beautiful with bright sunshine, although it was quite frosty. We met at Lanark train/bus station at 11.00am and travelled the short journey to Cleghorn in a minibus. It is also possible to reach the start using the Bluebird no 77 or Stuarts no 37 buses from Lanark bus station to the start of the walk.

The entrance to the walk is clearly marked and there is a well-marked footpath which prevents walkers becoming lost on the walk.To the left was Mouse Water but it is not possible to walk along the banks of the river as there was a 30 foot drop to it from the footpath.

Great-spotted Woodpecker

The walk started off well - the autumn leaves were still on the trees and we were able to see the autumn colours before the leaves fall off in the next few weeks. A Great-spotted Woodpecker could be seen on a Beech tree and a flock of Blue-tits flew overhead. I had not seen a Woodpecker for over a year, so I was glad to see one again. A badger sett was also seen just after the start of the walk.

Badger Sett

Dogs Mercury

In the glen the main vegetation is Dogs Mercury and Woodrush. Dogs Mercury has spear-shaped, toothed, fresh green leaves carried on upright stems. It produces clusters of small, greenish flowers in spring. It is often found in woodland which has many Beech trees. The predominant tree in the glen was Beech.

Beech Trees 

Beech trees are characterised by having tight, smooth light gray bark. The bark is unique and is a major identifier of the species. It also has muscular roots which look like the legs and arms of some creature.

Beech tree in Autumn Colours

Beech trees are native to the South of England, but were introduced to other areas of the UK because the tree is so pleasing to the eye. The leaves can take up to three years or longer to decay because they are tougher than the leaves of other trees.

Crossing Mouse Water

The path through the forest was muddy in places, but as we were all wearing good walking boots, it was not too difficult to negotiate.

 Lunch Stop

At 13.45 we stopped for lunch, which we enjoyed in the Autumn sunshine.This gave us a chance to catch up with what we had seen on the walk.

Autumn Colours

Autumn Colours

After the lunch stop, the path descended to Mouse Water and we continued at river level until we arrived at Mousebank Road. On this stretch of the walk we saw some Otter spraint (excrement) and some Devils Bit Scabious flowers which was remarkable considering it was late October.

Devils Bit Scabious
Otter Spraint 

Otter spraint can be identified by smell and is often compared with new mown hay, lavender or mint. The specimen we saw today had the remains of fish scales in it.

Otter Spraint

We crossed the road and continued on towards Cartland Bridge. The path at this point involved a steep ascent before following a flat path towards the bridge. In the distance Lanark and Tinto Hill could be seen on our left. 

Lanark and Tinto Hill

Cartland Crags Bridge

We were now approaching Cartland Crags Bridge which is 129 ft (39 m) tall bridge and was built in 1822 by the famous Scottish civil engineer Thomas Telford (1757–1834). It is a spectacular structure and is in excellent condition considering its age.

Cartland Crags Bridge
Our walk was coming to an end we soon arrived at the small car park at Cartland Bridge where the minibus driver was waiting to take us back to Lanark.

Summary of Walk

This was a great walk in an area which I was not familiar with. It was more enjoyable due to the Autumn sunshine and we managed to see the trees in their Autumn colours before the trees lose their leaves altogether.


Scottish Wildlife Trust 

Scottish Natural Heritage 

Information Leaflet

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