Monday 28 August 2023

David Livingstone Centre and River Clyde Walk.

                                                   ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.

  A trip out to the David Livingstone Centre, which is situated on the River Clyde near Low Blantyre and Bothwell. It is a very interesting museum dedicated to the life and travels of David Livingstone, Christian missionary, doctor and Africa explorer. He was born and grew up here, at that time, early 1800s, part of a collection of buildings belonging to a cotton mill and weaving tradition, usually trades situated beside plentiful fresh clean water.


As well as the museum there's also a gift shop, tearoom, toilets and surrounding grounds with various sculptures together with some lovely flower borders in seasonal splendour.


This is a selection of planted beds here.


Exotic Pink.

Rudbeckia or Black Eyed Susan.

 I've been in the museum before, around ten years ago, and apparently it has been modernized since then to include other exhibits. Nothing illustrates how dangerous travel in Africa could be however than this amazing centerpiece sculpture of David Livingstone getting badly mauled by a lion. 


From every angle there's a dynamic view of sudden unexpected attack. It didn't kill him but crushed one arm very badly in its powerful jaws before it was killed by other helpers, as shown. Surprisingly, according to the info board, famous film special effects artist Ray Harryhausen had a hand in its creation, modeling it in wax first, as he had a David Livingstone family connection, before sculptor Gareth Knowles turned it into this scaled up and very lifelike depiction.


 Lesser individuals might have given up then and gone home for good with only a mangled arm to show for his efforts but from the age of ten D.L. had worked long daily shifts in the nearby cotton mill as well as some school work so lying down was never an option for very long. It was only after this event occurred that he started exploring inland Africa and its great rivers, The Zambezi and the Nile, in earnest once it eventually healed to the point where he could continue.


There's a few other sculptures and art works dotted around the grounds and they are free to visit. Rather than use up a car park space within the museum grounds we parked in the lane outside. At the bottom of this lane is a pedestrian bridge across the River Clyde. This is where the walk starts.

 Pedestrian Bridge across the River Clyde. As soon as you cross this bridge turn left and follow a path through the woods downstream, which is narrow at first and can be slippy after rain, but soon opens out to become flat easy walking along this side of the river on a good wide path.


This kind of path.... but wider.


View from the foot bridge looking upstream.


Houses on the David Livingstone side of the river. Before the foot bridge was built a ferry used to be at this spot, carrying workers and locals across.


The wild River Clyde at Blantyre.

River Clyde Reflections. This riverside path takes you past Bothwell Castle ( usually a photogenic treat but currently surrounded by scaffolding and ugly metal fences. After three km the only other suspension footbridge takes you back across the river. At this point you can go several ways. Myself and Alan crossed over a wooden stile then a grass field to follow the river down this other bank. A beware of bull sign, loads of fresh cow pats, and unsighted corners made this field crossing slightly tricky and apprehensive but it was very scenic....


... almost magical in its serene calm.... as you can see from this photograph, above. And no bull to be stumbled across... which might have been less serene for us. Stopping here for lunch therefore we spotted a kingfisher and a tree-creeper. Both far too fleeting and fast for a photographer on a walk to capture but good nonetheless. Many years since I've seen a kingfisher close up. After lunch we continued to follow this bank across another green field before the trees closed in. Two more wooden stiles proved we were still on a faint trail beside the river but summer vegetation growth was waist to head high by this point so we cut up the slope near the old priory to find a better trail which led us out onto an open meadow filled with wild flowers and a larger track.


This is it here. Almost looks like flattened spoil heaps with a grey crushed powdery earth surface showing in places. Does not look at all like ordinary soil. As Blantyre in the past was a coal mining village this might well be the case. You can also reach this point via the other easier route following an obvious tarmac path from the second footbridge then a minor road left to arrive here. From this point several woodland trails take you back to the David Livingstone Museum.  Allow around 4 hours for walk at an easy pace. DLM around £6 to £8 each admission. Book online or pay at door. Limited parking in DLM lane for walk only or train stations at Low Blantyre or Uddingston.



Map of the world fountain. DLM.

Another good day out and an enjoyable river walk.



Carol said...

Old slag heaps make quite prolific and pretty nature reserves - although only pioneer plants and their followers usually. Depends how old they are. We used to play on the village slag heaps when I was growing up - they were huge - probably over 100 foot high, maybe 200 feet.

The river looks really nice in those calm sections.

You'd think Livingstone would have been put off Africa after being got by a lion.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
yes it's a beautiful stretch of river. David Livingstone used to walk that river path when he attended university in Glasgow. Around ten miles there and ten miles back in all weathers. From the age of 10 to early 20s he also did 14 hour long shifts working in the cotton mill so, like most Victorians, he was really tough. Hiking through darkest Africa was probably fun for him as it was all new and fresh. He named Victoria Falls after his queen, as was the fashion back then.

Anabel Marsh said...

We’ve done something similar to this a few years ago, but like you haven’t been into the museum for ages. decades probably.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
It's one of those places, Like Coatbridge's Summerlee or Hamilton's Chatelherault that you tend to forget about because it is out the way and not obvious unless you live out that direction yet it's only 40 mins in the car.

Rosemary said...

If I ever manage a trip back up to Scotland then the David Livingstone Museum will be on my list - what a beautiful setting it is surrounded by.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
You would definitely find the museum interesting as it has loads of detailed extra info I was not aware of.