Tuesday 4 July 2023

NE and Central Scotland Tour 2023

Monday 3 July 2023

Nido's parked up at the New Lanark UNESCO Centre.  It's just £3 for 24 hours parking here and overnight stops are allowed.  There's no facilities, but plenty of room to park; tonight there's only one other van in the main car park.  We're in one of the smaller overflow car parks.  Salty's beside himself and on-guard as loads of grey squirrels and rabbits (plus one stoat) have been hopping around the van.  He's been very self-disciplined, just watching them intently and shaking all over!  He's attached to the van by his lead so he can't chase them, but tonight I think he'll be dreaming about exactly that!

We left home yesterday morning (Sunday 2 July), with a planned stop at the C&CC temporary holiday site (THS) in Kendal.  The satnav showed a 3 hour journey, but once again (on our last trip north the M56 was closed both ways and we sat stationary for 2 hours) the motorway trolls got us.  This time the M6 north of J31 was closed both ways after a milk tanker overturned and straddled the central reservation.  This time I heard about it in advance on the radio, so had time to pull over and plan an alternative route, which is just as well as the motorway was closed for most of the day.  The revised route took us past Bury, Clitheroe and Settle. It still added over 2 hours to our journey but at least we were moving through the lovely landscape of Lancashire and North Yorkshire before reaching Cumbria.  I had considered stopping at a CAMC CL just outside Clitheroe; a lovely grass meadow with just a tap and toilet disposal.  We've stayed there a couple of times, it used to be owned by a local farming family and they only charged £7, but it's been bought out and the new owners now want £15 - no thanks!

As we drove through Kendal the heavens opened as monsoon-like rain poured for the sky.  I checked us in to the THS (£10) and we parked up on the grass close to the entrance, as we were only staying one night.  Dog walking options were limited (we were near an A road and out of town stores), so it was twice round the field for Salty before we had something to eat and settled down for an early night.

We didn't wake up this morning until nearly 0900. Breakfast was 'enforced' scrambled egg; enforced because the dozen eggs in a top cupboard fell out on the drive up yesterday and six were smashed. But they were saveable and went into the fridge in a plastic container ready for this morning.  Although it was only day one, I topped up the fresh water and emptied the loo, as we had the facilities there.  The drive up to Lanark was uneventful and we arrived at about 1.30pm.  After lunch and a cup of tea, we packed some raincoats and water in a rucksack and walked down the path to the centre.

New Lanark is a former 18th century cotton spinning mill village located on the banks of the Falls of Clyde, a deep gorge with vertical rock faces and several waterfalls.  Recognised as one of 6 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Scotland, as well as the visitor buildings and centre, it's a resident village community of 65 households, mainly apartments in the old mill buildings and workshops. It's nestled in the gorge within a National Nature Reserve. The centre spins their own traditionally produced organic wool and produce their own hydro-electricity.  We didn't pay to visit the centre and buildings; in fact if we wanted to we couldn't even find the visitor centre!  They could do with more signs as quite a few people were wandering around, unclear of where to go and what to do.  Instead we followed the paths and boardwalk that followed the river running through the gorge, deep and wide in some places (it reminded me of some of the rivers we've walked along in inland France) and churning white across rocks in other sections, plus some spectacular waterfalls.  There looked like some good swimming spots, but it's unsafe to try and get to the river down the steep cliffs, plus the river can quickly become a raging torrent when the hydro-electric pump stations increase the flow.

We spent about 3 hours on the walk, stopping to watch the water and the wildlife in warm, dappled sunshine.  Only on the last stretch did it start to rain, but by the time we'd returned to the van the sun was out again and we sat in the warmth with a cup of tea.  It's very quiet here this evening and hopefully we'll not be visited by the boy racers (as some previous vans suffered in the Search for Site reviews).

Tomorrow we head further north.  The rough plan for this trip  - over about a fortnight - is to make our way up to Inverness, via Glencoe and Loch Ness, before spending a few days hopping along the coastal harbours and villages along the NE coast of the Moray Firth, hopefully doing some dolphin watching.  Then we'll start to head inland and south through the Cairngorms.  That's the rough plan although the weather and midges will determine where we end up!  We have midge head-nets and a can of Smidge, but they'll not help us much if they descend on us in their millions.

New Lanark Cotton Spinning Mill

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