Landmark Visitor's Guide


Greater Glasgow and
the Clyde Valley



Additional Information

Landmark Visitor's Guide

Around Glasgow

Pollock Country Park

Continuing south-west along the B769 or route signposted to Kilmarnock on the A77, the Burrell Collection is set in the spacious grounds of Pollock Country Park to the right and is free. Opened in 1983 there are many who reckon it was as much an instrument in Glasgow's change of fortune as the 'Glasgow's Miles Better' campaign. The timing of its appearance on Glasgow's cultural scene certainly could not have been better for putting the city into the minds of the art, media and business worlds.

Sir William Burrell was a wealthy Glasgow shipping magnate who, using the fortune amassed from the astute timing of the sale of his fleet, spent his life travelling the world in search of works of art and antiquities that he liked.

The Burrell is now one of the most popular galleries in Britain. Chinese ceramics, Persian carpets, medieval European furniture and stained glass along with modern painting and sculpture make it one of the most diverse collections of artefacts found anywhere in the world. Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt are also well represented.

Pollock House is in the same grounds as the Burrell, built in 1750 and housing one of the finest collections of Spanish paintings in this country. There are woodland areas and a pleasant river in front of the house.


There are several areas quite close to Glasgow that make ideal day trips from the 'Empire's Second City'. The M8 swoops over the kingston Bridge towards Glasgow Airport past the communities of Paisley and Renfrew. Paisley has several historic connections, not least of which is the creation of a fashion for fantastic patterned shirts that were the rage around the world in the late 1960s.

Paisley's town centre is graced with several imposing buildings set amongst the more typical lowland town merchandisers. For contrast to the rather oppressive exterior of Paisley Abbey, traverse through the High Street to find the Thomas Coates Memorial Church, a more opulent example of Victorian design.

The banks of the Clyde

The M8 splits at Erskine Bridge leading to Dumbarton and Helensburgh while the west route follows the Clyde. Port Glasgow was a small fishing village until the late seventeenth century when it was purchased by the town of Glasgow to become the city's main port.

Newark Castle overlooking the Clyde, stands out amidst the flotsam of the docks. This turreted fifteenth century construction is in remarkably good condition for its 400 years, once a tower house for the Maxwell family and now open to visitors.

Further on is Greenock, another beneficiary of the Clyde's industrial hey-day. Looking over the water, Inverclyde's Waterfront, a new development, offers a wide range of activities including a leisure ice rink and a curling rink. There is also alongside a cinema and Waterfront Retail Park.

In Cathcart Square, the main focus is the 245ft (75m) Victorian Tower, which now houses the Tourist Information Office. In Union Street is the McLean Museum and Art Gallery which contains some of the work of James Watt, the celebrated eighteenth century industrialist and developer of the steam engine, who was born in Greenock.

Gourock, just down the coast, is an old seaside resort with some character especially along its esplanade with its marvellous views over the Clyde to the Cowal Peninsula. Gourock Golf Club sits high above the town and enjoys splendid views from its high tees.

The A82 travels the north banks of the Clyde, a dual carriageway leading to Dumbarton, Alexandria and Loch Lomond. Dumbarton is a rather ugly development of the 1960s and 70s, despite it having a castle that can trace its origins back to Roman times. To reach it, take Victoria Street from the town. Its situation is ideal, surrounded on the three sides by water with views up and down the Clyde.

The Isle of Bute

From Glasgow, the route is along the south bank of the Clyde. The ferry to Dunoon sails from Gourock, taking only a few minutes to cross the Clyde to reach this popular holiday resort. The Tourist Office is on Alexander Parade, which is also useful for locating accommodation.

Behind the town, the Cowall Peninsula is formed by Loch Fynne and Loch Long and offers a variety of landscapes from the peaks of Argyll Forest Park in the north, to the more temperate environs of the south-west.

The Isle of Bute stands below the Cowall Peninsula. Its main attraction is the seaside town of Rothesay which, like Dunoon, has attracted Scots holiday-makers for decades. There are moves to bring it into the late 90s and make use of its Winter Gardens, the Promenade, the pier and the many guest houses. Rothesay Castle sits above the bay.

There is a small display of the area's heritage at Bute Museum in Stewart Street. The island of Bute is popular with retirees and those keen on growing a garden that reaps the benefits of the Gulf Stream. The A844 follows a figure-of-eight tour of the island that finishes back at the short ferry crossing onto Cowal or you can catch the frequent ferries back to Wemyss Bay where the mainland ferry terminal is sited. From Wemyss Bay the A78 carries on south into Ayrshire or back into Glasgow.

North of Glasgow

Residential areas immediately ring the area north of Glasgow, then open agricultural land before coming to an outer ring of towns. These are closely associated with the city but just out of reach of the urban sprawl and so are more countrified than metropolitan.

From the north east of Glasgow, these start with Coatbridge which now has a tourist centre recently grafted in with a rather remarkable ice-rink and swimming centre called the Time Capsule. Here you can swim through the River of Life or Skate through Time. Erupting volcanoes, rocket launches and water spraying serpents accompany you. Coatbridge was a key element in the Scottish industrial scene, providing much of the steel for the thousands of ships that were built on the Clyde as well as for the Forth Bridge.

Travelling westwards are Kirkintilloch and Bishopbriggs with the Campsie Fells, a long string of medium-sized hills protecting this area from the north. The Stables pub and restaurant sits on the banks of the canal between Bishopbriggs and Kirkintilloch and is quite entertaining to sit out in good weather.

Kirkintilloch is another town that has been treated badly by modern planners. There are some lovely terraced cottages at the west end of the High Street, but from there on there is a gradual deterioration until tasteless video stores and off-licence outlets prevail.

Further west is the Glasgow suburb of Bearsden and nearby Milngavie, pronounced 'Mulguy'. The main route north from here is the A809 passing through the Kilpatrich Hills with the Campsie Fells to the east. Drymen is the next village and acts as a gateway to the Trossachs area.

South of Glasgow

The south-eastern side of Glasgow is another region worth exploring especially by car. Basically, the area surrounds the Clyde Valley following the river to its source. The A724 passes through Rutherglen and then joins the A72. Bothwell Castle is worth detouring for, once one of the finest red-sandstone castles in this part of the land. It stands high above a loop in the Clyde, a mighty stronghold that endured during the English attacks in the early fourteenth century. The nearby village of Blantyre was the birthplace of the explorer and missionary, David Livingstone, in 1813.

Following the River Clyde towards its origin, the environs of Glasgow and the marks of its indutrial endeavours are finally left behind revealing aN area of deep valleys and gentle agricultural rises. This region is sometimes referred to as the 'Greenhouse Glen' with quaint little cottages looking over their attenuated gardens.


Lanark is an old market town with the world's oldest bell cast in 1130, but otherwise the town is rather bleak. The double-laned main street now choked with traffic, is overlooked by a statue of William Wallace who lived in Lanark for a time. Lanark Golf Club is frequently commended for its challenging heathland course and comfortable clubhouse.

Following Braxfield Road from the town of Lanark, you approach the village of New Lanark only 1 mile (2km) from the centre of the old town. The view looking down into the valley is quite stunning. With misty sprays rising above the village, this was one of the first communities to bring together industrialism and social development.

New Lanark was founded in 1785 by rich industrialist David Dale and his partner Richard Arkwright, with the purpose of yoking the power of the Falls of Clyde for their cotton mills.

It was Dale's son-in-law, Robert Owen who had the vision to create a model community when he became manager of the estate. He called his experiment the 'village of unity' and in 1798, he created the country's first infant school and adult education facility. The 'Annie McLeod Experience' is a tour through the social history of life in the village as seen through the eyes of a mill girl of the era.

The path skirting the river leads to the Falls of Clyde Nature Reserve with spectacular falls plunging 90ft (27m) in three stages. En-route is Wallace's Tower or Corra Castle perched on a pinnacle above Corra Linn.


The most south-easternly town in the Clyde Valley is Biggar, 13 miles (21km) on from Lanark on the A72 and a main stopping point on the A702 from Edinburgh to the south-west. The River Clyde flows nearby, a much junior version of the waterway some 50 miles (80km) north-west.

Biggar has no less than four museums. The Moat Park Heritage Centre just off the High Street in a converted church is exceptionally well put together and gives a listing of the Upper Clyde and Tweed Valleys along with a fascinating display of table covers and other embroidery.

The Gladstone Court Street Museum on North Bavk Road is a re-creation of a Victorian street complete with cobblers, dressmakers, a chemist and even an early telephone exchange. On Burns Braes is the Greenhill Convenanters House which helps explain this confusing period in Scottish history.

Near the War Memorial is the Biggar Gasworks, built in 1839 and closed in 1973, an unusual museum that might stir memories for those that remember gas mantles and the smell of coal gas works of which this is the sole surviving example.

Thursday, December 26th, 2019

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