The next route in our series of great Scottish road trips follows one of the country’s most emblematic rivers, the Clyde. This is one of the shortest designated road trips in Scotland. With just 38 miles (61km) the Clyde Valley Route makes an easy day out. But while it’s short, it’s also sweet and showcases plenty of stunning countryside with rolling hills and lush woodlands accompanying you almost all the way.
Why drive the Clyde Valley Route
A great day trip, the Clyde Valley Route offers a bit of everything. Scotland’s scenery takes centre stage alongside some extraordinary wildlife. Together with nature, you’ll also get a taste of Scottish history in the castles and the country’s industrial past. There’s something for everyone including plenty to do for children as you follow the River Clyde from Abington to Hamilton, just outside Glasgow.
The Clyde Valley is home to a surprising number of interesting attractions on its route. Don’t miss the following when you’re driving this Scottish road trip:
The Clyde Valley Route starts in the town of Abington, known as the Roman gateway to Scotland. Discover the Roman hill forts dotted around the area. The town is also famous for hosting Napoleon III who stayed locally after a day shooting grouse in 1839.
Museums and cultural feasts
The road trip then follows the River Clyde north as it meanders through pretty countryside to its next port of call – Biggar. This thriving market town includes the interesting Clydesdale Museum, which opened in late 2015. See bygones and catch a glimpse of rural and small-town life along the Clyde during the 19th century. Children will love Gladstone’s Court, a replica of a Victorian street.
If you’re doing this Scottish road trip in the autumn, time your visit to coincide with the Biggar Little Festival. The event takes place every October and offers a cultural feast of arts, dance, drama and literature.
Clyde Valley views
Before you leave Biggar, don your walking boots and climb Tinto Hill. It’s an easy walk with a cairn at the summit to reward you with stunning views of the Clyde Valley and rolling hills beyond it in all directions.
The Clyde Valley Route offers plenty of opportunities to catch sight of Scottish wildlife. For a close-up view of some of the country’s finest birds, stop off at Rhuallan Raptors. Here, you can see raptors in flight – eagles, owls and falcons – or get a taste of falconry for yourself with a lesson in this ancient art of hunting.
Combine water and wildlife at the Falls of Clyde Wildlife Reserve. Walk along the Clyde to the Corra Linn waterfalls that tumble 80ft (24m), making them some of the most spectacular in this part of Scotland. They’re particularly stunning in the autumn against the background of the vibrantly-coloured woodlands. Or time your visit to spot the resident otters (January to March is the best time of year). Or check out the other wildlife along the way. Badgers, pine martins and kingfishers are all relatively easy to spot.
Another must-see on this Scottish road trip is New Lanark, some two-thirds of the way to Hamilton. Founded in the 18th century by Robert Owen, the cotton mill settlement was something of a social pioneer during Victorian times. Owen built housing for the workers and provided healthcare and education facilities including the world’s very first workplace nursery. New Lanark now has UNESCO World Heritage status.
Classic Scottish castles
No Scottish road trip would be complete without at least one castle. The Clyde Valley Route includes Craignethan Castle, which although in ruins makes a very worthwhile visit. Built in 1530 by Sir James Finnart, it includes a well-preserved tower and a stone-vaulted shooting gallery known as a caponier and one of the few in the UK. When building his residence, Finnart used his considerable architectural skills and the castle was once the finest in southern Scotland. You can also admire his work at Linlithgow Palace and Stirling Castle.
With Hamilton and Glasgow in sight, this road trip makes its last stop at Chatelherault Country Park where there’s something for all the family. Kids will love the adventure park and the many nature trails that crisscross the 500-acre estate – don’t miss the 600-year old oaks. Also worth a visit are the formal gardens next to the stunning hunting lodge, built in 1732 for the Dukes of Hamilton.
Where to stay on the Clyde Valley Route
Make this Scottish road trip one to remember by staying at one of the area’s most authentic castles. Take over the original tower, built 350 years ago for a lavish holiday reign in fine living rooms complete with vaulted ceilings and ancestral portraits, all in the lap of luxury. The king and queen in your party will want the unique Wallace suite but the ten courtiers will be more than content in the King James bedroom, Queen Mary room, Knights room… Book your castle stay for the Clyde Valley Route now.
Not convinced you should take a Scottish road trip? Read more in this series:
- Fife Coastal Route
- Angus Coastal Route
- Argyll Coastal Route
- Borders Historic Route
- Deeside Tourist Route
- Forth Valley Tourist Route
- Galloway Tourist Route
- 10 reasons to take a Scottish road trip
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