This is an area which has a thriving modern vibe. It also has a rich and varied history.
Bothwell Castle is built on a high, steep hill overlooking the River Clyde between Bothwell and Uddingston. It was built in the late 1200s but never completed due to an active role in the Wars of Independence between Scotland and England which lasted from 1296 – 1356. Ownership of the castle varied over this time as it fell into English hands many times. It was finally recaptured by the owner, Sir Andrew Moray before being owned in the late 1300s by the powerful earls of Douglas. It remains as an example of one of Scotland’s most impressive medieval strongholds.
The earls of Douglas took their name from their original seat of Douglas Water in South Lanarkshire. They served William Wallace and Robert the Bruce through the Wars of Independence and gained honour and power. The prestige of the family was hugely increased when James, 2nd Earl of Douglas married Princess Isabel, a daughter of King Robert 2nd of Scotland.
Today, Bothwell and Uddingston show no sign of their tumultuous past, with an excellent golf course, a selection of individual shops, great restaurants and the Tunnock’s biscuit factory.
The Tunnock’s family business was founded in 1890 and is still based in Uddingston. Their tea cakes and caramel wafers are much loved by ex-pat Scots based throughout the world, as well as those at home. Visitors are able to tour the factory, although tours tend to be so popular that they are booked up to a year in advance.
One of Uddingston’s most famous sons is Sir James Black, a pharmacologist who created beta – blocker drugs and won a Nobel Prize in 1988.
You can visit Viewpark Gardens, a renowned horticultural centre with water features and a display of Highland and Japanese plants. The gardens host an annual Summer Flower Festival to which many local schools escort their classes as part of their outside learning curriculum.
Moving north and east brings us to Cumbernauld, Croy, Twechar and Dullatur and Kilsyth.
Cumbernauld has grown from a small village to a sprawling new town but still retains a strong community feeling.
Cumbernauld boasts a Theatre which is not only one of Scotland’s oldest producing theatres but is also well respected for its year round productions of music, drama, comedy and dance from visiting companies. It also has a fabulous pantomime!
Between Kilsyth and Croy is the relatively new Auchinstarry Marina, which is situated on the Forth and Clyde Canal. At the marina you can visit Scotland’s first eco pub and meander through their scents and sensitivities garden before adjourning to the pub or spreading a blanket on the canal banks and enjoying a picnic, hopefully on one of the warm sunny days we get in this country! Both villages have a long and respected history of mining, as does much of this area. The Forth and Clyde Canal was the first canal to be built in Scotland .
The building of the privately-owned Forth & Clyde Canal was approved by an Act of Parliament in March 1768.Work began on its construction in June 1768 when the governor of the Canal Company dug the first spade-full of earth at the eastern sea lock just west of Bo'Ness. Over the years settlement grew up around the sea lock, developing into the town of Grangemouth in the east. The 35-mile long canal was designed to serve as a trade route between east and west, carrying coal and other commercial goods between Scotland's towns and cities. It was to be large enough for seagoing vessels to develop links with trade in Europe and America. In 1775 work had to stop just north of Glasgow due to a lack of funds. Dissatisfied with this, city merchants from Glasgow sought funding to build a branch of the canal into the city, and this was achieved by 1777. Finally, in 1785, government money forfeited from the Jacobite Estates became available. The canal could then continue its journey to the River Clyde at Bowling.
For walkers, the Forth & Clyde Canal follows a route across Scotland to the Antonine Wall. Try this scenic walk, starting at Auchinstarry which leads through the wild and desolate Dullatur marshes. This route includes a stretch of Antonine Wall as well as some excellent canal walking.
The former mining village of Twechar is also on the route of the Forth and Clyde Canal and is a local tourist attraction as it features visible remains of a Roman Fort and the Antonine Wall. The reopening of the canal in 2001 brought opportunities for the development of Twechar and it has seen new housing, new business units, an upgrade of leisure facilities as well as walkways in and around the village and glen.
Today the area is well served with good transport links to Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh via both rail and road and many people choose to live here and commute to their place of work. There is a good selection of shops, golf courses, sports centres and restaurants within the area. Cumbernauld is also home to the famous Barr’s Irn Bru factory, which like Tunnock’s produce, is much coveted by Scots both home and abroad.
Moving west towards Glasgow town centre we come to the East End of Glasgow which underwent enormous regeneration in the run up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games. As well as leaving a legacy of superb sporting facilities there is also the housing built for the athletes which is now being rolled out to local people.
The Emirates Stadium has recently hosted the Davis Cup tie between Britain and USA with both Andy and Jamie Murray playing a part in the British tennis team’s victory over the USA. The Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome is also situated at the stadium.
Many of the swimming events were held at Tollcross pool. In the 1700s many of Glasgow’s tobacco lords owned most of the Tollcross area – the names Corbett, Dunlop, Hopkirk, McCall, Smellie and Wardrop are well known within the town. The tobacco lords did not view their estates as being only family seats. For example, after 1783 James Dunlop purchased land in order to diversify into many nascent industries such as mining, brewing, sugar processing and iron works.
The Wellpark Brewery on Duke Street is Scotland’s oldest ongoing business. Brewing was taking place on the site even before the formation of the Tennent’s business in 1556. Today, you can tour the brewery and sample their wares.
This is only a very brief, and fascinating, overview of the area we cover. We will update it on a regular basis and if there is anything that you would like to be included, whether historical or to publicise an upcoming community event, we would be pleased to hear from you.