Inside Bothwell Castle
Other Stuff
The castle is about a mile north-west of the village, on the banks of the River Clyde. My 1920s guidebook describes it as 'perhaps the finest 13th century castle in Scotland.' Thankfully, not a lot has changed since the 1920s, and visually it is a feast. It is, of course, a ruin, with a few draughty rooms to creep through and explore, but it is best viewed and admired from the external south-east corner whose rounded tower remains largely intact, in a shell-like way. Like all old buildings it has seen many alterations over the centuries, bits cut off, bits added on, and one of the pleasures to be found in wandering through such ruins comes with trying to guess what is architecturally going on; what the heck is that extra wall doing there and why did they feel the need to build it. Then there's the ancient graffiti and the incised nicks and crosses placed there by stonemasons so they'd get paid. Go to Bothwell and stand and stare. For if you stare for long enough, the stone will speak to you.
Looks kinda Victorian from the street, but if you delve your way through the tottery graveyard you'll find a much older part at the rear with stone slabs on the roof and buttresses holding the walls up. Inside, the church is stunningly attractive. And it smells nice, too. It smells of old musty things topped with roses. There's an ancient grave-slab with a sword and three stars. I reckon this may be the grave-slab of Walter Murray, who fought with Sir William Wallace at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, and who died shortly afterwards, presumably from wounds received during the battle.
Located at the entrance to Bothwell Parish Church, this is a stunning structure. On each of the four sides are intricate mosaic panels, colourful and pictorial, giving details of the life of this poet and dramatist who lived between 1762 and 1851. A visit to Bothwell is worth it for this alone.
The Clyde Walkway's actually quite a big walk, running from Glasgow city centre to the World Heritage Site of New Lanark, a distance of some 40 miles. The tourist organisation Visit Lanarkshire has made pdf files of the whole route available, and you can download these from their website. I have taken the liberty of using the section that passes close to Bothwell, and you can download the pdf file HERE. It's a nice leaflet, with good photos and a map of this section of the Clyde Walkway. It's not got the best map in the world, to be honest, and you should use it in conjunction with an Ordnance Survey map of the area (Landranger Map 64, Glasgow, 1:50000 scale, or one-and-a-quarter inches to a mile). You should also bear in mind that more up-to-date leaflets may be produced by the council in time, and that there may be variations in the exact route. Nevertheless, the pdf file I have used here will give you a rough idea of the route and, as I've already said, should be used along with an Ordnance Survey map.
This is probably nearer Bothwell than Blantyre, and can be accessed from the former via a lofty pedestrian bridge over the River Clyde. The centre includes a museum in the tenement in which the explorer and missionary was born, along with gardens and a tea-room (where, I might say, you can slurp some pretty good soup). In the grounds is a magnificent sculpture depicting the moment when Livingstone got his arm chewed by a lion. It was quite a serious bit of chewing, as inside the museum you get to see a cast of his left arm-bone, which looks suitably and quite horribly deformed. The museum has a magical long gallery that houses a series of sculptures depicting events in Livingstone's life. The Pilkington-Jackson Gallery, as it is called, is almost in complete darkness, with little stars of light overhead and buttons to press to illuminate each sculpted scene. It's quite special. The rather sad thing is that the house was once part of an extensive range of mill buildings that once sat on the banks of the river. A whole village was constructed in 1830 to house the mill workers. There was a cotton mill, a gas works, dye works, weaving sheds, tailor's shop, wash house, wheel house, and even a home for village orphans. Practically everything has vanished, and you realise when you look at the mill layout in the museum that, with a bit of luck, the mill here could have been as famous as that still standing at New Lanark. That would really have put Blantyre on the map. How sad that there is now barely a trace. The museum building itself is showing signs of serious wear and tear. There's a sloping floor, a skew-whiff door-frame, and some rather alarming masonry cracks. Old buildings need money to ensure they remain standing, and that is why it is so important that you visit the David Livingstone Centre, now run by the National Trust for Scotland, and help to save a little bit of our past.
The Good Soup Guide Award Winner
Is this the grave-slab of Walter Murray (inside Bothwell Parish Church)
A window and door at Bothwell Castle
Detail of mosaic panel on the Joanna Baillie monument in the grounds of Bothwell Parish Church
The bridge at Bothwell
The stunningly beautiful garden at the David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre
Sculpture at the David Livingstone Centre in Blantyre depicting the moment when Livingstone was attacked by a lion
OS Landranger sheet 64 map is available in our shop