Spring Walks - A Thank You!
At the end of May 2015, 58 people from toddlers to seniors pulled on their walking boots and traversed a total of 152 miles of glorious spring Clyde and Avon valley landscapes, as part of the inaugural CAVLP Spring Walks Festival.
To the tune of chattering birdsong, smells of fresh spring greenery and the sun (mostly) shining down on us, the ten walks were led by nine CAVLP partner organisations from local authorities to national conservation charities and heritage organisations. The guides led us on well trodden paths, less well trodden paths and off the path altogether, sharing their expert knowledge and passion for the unique environments and cultural heritage of each of the walk sites.
We walked through old Estates and majestic designed landscapes which are now parks and nature reserves at Chatelherault, Castlebank Park, Dalzell Estate and Scottish Wildlife Trust Falls of Clyde - made up from a mixture of native woodland and designed elements such a viewing platforms, parterre gardens, arboretums and even curling ponds.
We explored the industrial heritage of the area, discovering more about the people who moved to the New Lanark mills seeking employment and a home, people employed on the big Estates and the pressure that increased populations had on the surrounding landscapes during the industrial revolution.
We learned about the Clyde Valley Orchard Group's efforts to revive the rich growing heritage of the former 'Fruit Basket of Scotland,' and were shown replanted orchards at Kirkfieldbank, Castlebank Park and RSPB Scotland Baron's Haugh.
We tramped through three of the six ancient broadleaved woodlands at Cleghorn Glen, Chatelherault and Scottish Wildlife Trust Falls of Clyde that make up the Clyde Valley Woodlands National Nature Reserve, carved by the ice and water from the the surrounding rolling landscape. The woodlands are a sanctuary for wildlife, just bursting with spring colours at this time of year. Carpets of bluebells and clumps of red campion, cowslips, dog mercury, various saxifrage and much more are visited by various insects from beetles to flies and butterflies, with occasional hints of the bats and badgers which come out at night. We even caught glimpses of romantic ruined castles Corra and Cadzow (Falls of Clyde and Chatelherault respectively).
We traced names of headstones with our fingers in kirkyards at New Lanark and Dalzell Estate and imagined what kind of pets 'Blackberry' and 'Lu-Lu' might have been, remembered in the pet cemeteries at Castlebank Park and Dalzell Estate.
Personally, I was struck by the absolute dedication of our guides and their wider teams, volunteers and community groups who work so hard to look after each of these wonderful sites. And as we all walked and talked, temporarily linked in time and space by an enthusiasm to learn more about the place we were visiting, the walks were as much about sharing our own experiences of these places or places that we knew. I got a real sense that the history and heritage of these places are constantly in flux, touched by all who work, visit and live near these special sites. As such, they play a pivotal role in the identity of the Clyde and Avon valleys and maybe even personal identity in some cases - not just for the past, but for future generations too.
It was a great chance to get out and about - to meet locals and those from further afield who want to learn more about the Clyde and Avon valleys. It was a chance to make connections with individuals, volunteer and community groups and organisations who all have a stake in the landscape and support on social media was fantastic. We even got a shout out on CamGlen radio and BBC Radio Scotland Out For The Weekend.
The CAVLP team would like to say a huge thank you to our partners, and the volunteers and community groups that they work with everyday to protect and celebrate the unique landscapes and cultural heritage of the Clyde and Avon valleys. We'd also like to thank everyone who came along to find out more about who we are, what we do and to share their own stories. We hope to host an even bigger and better festival of events next year. Please get in touch if you have any ideas of what you'd like to see included in a Clyde and Avon Valleys Festival.
- Sarah O'Sullivan, Communications Officer, Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership