Blantyre is chiefly famous for its connection with explorer David Livingstone, born in 1813 in Shuttle Row. His birthplace has been restored and houses a museum, and there is a Livingstone Memorial Church which bears his statue on the tower, which also contains relics of H M Stanley.
Each July, the ‘Fleming Queen’ is crowned here in a ceremony commemorating Mary Fleming, one of the ‘four Marys’ who were ladies-in-waiting to Mary Queen of Scots, the others being Mary Seton, Mary Beaton and Mary Livingstone. The Gladstone Court Museum – named after the family of the Victorian Prime Minister, who came from the area -contains, among other items of interest, a street of recreated 19th-century shops. Greenhill Covenanters’ House contains relics of Covenanters. Six miles east, Broughton was the home of John Buchan’s grandparents. He and his sister, Anna, often spent the summer here.
Bothwell Castle is ruined now, but its remains are impressive. It was the home of the Douglas family, built in the 13th and 15th centuries and one of the finest of Scottish strongholds. The Battle of Bothwell Brig, in which the Covenanters were defeated, was fought near here in 1679 and is commemorated by a monument. The Collegiate Church dates back to the 14th century and has a magnificent pointed barrel vault.
Scotland’s largest city, and the third most populous city in Britain, Glasgow owes its rapid development during the Industrial Revolution to its situation on the Clyde, only 20 miles from the sea, and surrounded by coalfields. Its prosperity had begun earlier, in the 17th century, when Port Glasgow, on the Clyde estuary, began to handle a flood of goods from the New World. Heavy industry and ship-building developed in the 19th century, requiring the massive workforce whose cheap housing became the notorious slums of this century.
In recent years there has been a switch to lighter engineering, and an extensive programme of slum clearance has replaced much of the old city by new flats and road networks. The city’s underground, reopened by the Queen in 1979, is now one of the most modern in the world, and its airport lies 7 miles to the west. Smoke begrimed Glasgow is fortunate in its large number of parks and other open spaces, covering in all 6000 acres. Lovely countryside surrounds the city: Campsie Fells and Kilpatrick Hills, almost at its door; the Trossachs, Loch Lomond and the Kyles of Bute within easy reach.
Glasgow Cathedral, begun in the 12th century and completed at the end of the 15th, is considered the finest example of pre-Reformation Gothic in Europe. The city’s university was established as early as 1451 and treasures in its Hunterian Art Gallery include paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Whistler. The Hunterian Museum is based on the wide-ranging collections of an 18th century surgeon. Glasgow has several other outstanding museums and art galleries, including: the Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum; Haggs Castle, a museum for children; People’s Palace, containing a visual record of the history and life of the city; and the Transport Museum. Some 15 miles south west lies Beith, a small town manufacturing gloves and furniture, which has an 18th-century mill.
The market town of Lanark, set high above the River Clyde, is an ancient Royal Burgh. David I built a castle here in the 12th century. It looks over Cora Linn, which has the most spectacular of the Clyde Falls, a magnificent 90ft plunge. To the west of the town, Cartland Crags rise to 400ft over a chasm nearly a mile long, by Mouse Water. Two time-honoured rituals are still observed in the town Whippity Scoorie at the beginning of March (believed to originate in a pagan festival to drive away winter) and pageants to celebrate the Beating of the Bounds in June.
One mile south, New Lanark was the creation of Glasgow merchant David Dale, who acquired an area of marshland and, in 1784, built a textile village in conjunction with Richard Arkwright. He built cottages for his workforce, mostly dispossessed crofters. New Lanark is the best Scottish example of an industrial village. The socialist tradition continued when Robert Owen married Dale’s daughter. He abolished child labour and built schools and shops, making New Lanark a ‘model’ community.