This post contains affiliate links from which I may make a commission. All opinions are my own. If you’d like more information you can contact me via the Contact page, a link to which is at the bottom of this page in the footer.
An extended version of the popular 3.7 mile Falls of Clyde walk. Starting in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of New Lanark, follow the Clyde Walkway through a scenic nature reserve managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. The highlight of the walk is the spectacular waterfalls along the river gorge, including the well-photographed Corra Linn: the largest in Britain by volume of water. The return route takes you along peaceful woodland trails down the west bank of the River Clyde and into Kirkfieldbank, then through Castlebank Park.
Dog-friendly walk (beware cliffs)
Car parking available at New Lanark World Heritage Site (ML11 9DB). Closest train station is in Lanark, 2.7km away (there is a bus service from Lanark to New Lanark).
Route: From the main car park for the New Lanark World Heritage Site, follow a footpath leading downhill past an information board. At the bottom of the hill turn left (South-East) to reach New Lanark Road. You will start to see badger signs saying “Follow me to the Falls of Clyde”. Turn left (South-East) along New Lanark Road for 100m, past the war memorial and a red phone box and then turn right (South-West), through some gates and down some steps then across a footbridge, arriving in front of the entrance to the cafe. Turn left (South-East), passing a picnic area. When you reach Robert Owen’s School keep left at a fork and follow the path along past an office building. Go through a gap in the wall and into the woods. Choose the paths closest to the River Clyde, following the boardwalk and stopping off at several viewpoints along the way to admire the waterfalls. After approx 700m you will arrive at the buildings and pipes which form Corra Linn Substation. Keep right (South) at a fork to head back into the woods and up some steps. Continue to follow the trails closest to the River Clyde, gently uphill for the next 1.5km to reach Bonnington Linn Weir. Along the way you will experience several sets of steps and a number of viewpoints just off the path, including the most popular one overlooking the spectacular Corra Linn waterfall. Cross the bridge at Bonnington Linn Weir then turn right (South-West). Continue to follow the trails closest to the River Clyde, gently downhill for the next 4.5km. There are several viewpoints along the way. You will emerge onto Kirkfield Road in the residential area of Kirkfieldbank. Turn right (North-West). Walk along Kirkfield Road to a bridge over the River Clyde. Turn right (North-East) to cross the bridge. At the other side of the bridge turn right (East) to go through a gate next to a house (looks like you are going down someone’s driveway). Follow this track along the river and through some trees. After a steep uphill section you will emerge onto St Patrick’s Road. Follow this single track road South-East for 380m to a park entrance. Note the wooden finger posts for “Clyde Walkway”. Turn right (South) to enter Castlebank Park. After a short 90m, turn right (South-West) onto a woodland footpath signposted “Clyde Walkway New Lanark”. The footpath zig zags down a steep hill to the river. At the bottom of the hill follow the trail along the river a short distance and keep right at a fork to cross the Braxfield Burn. The trail then follows the course of the River Clyde into New Lanark. When you reach New Lanark Road turn right (South-East) and walk along to the war memorial. Turn left here and retrace your steps back uphill to the main car park.
WALK REPORT: 10th October and 4th November 2021
Having walked the traditional “there and back” Falls of Clyde route many times in the past, I had been desperate to try out the full circular walk for ages. On 10th October 2021 I finally did so.
The first unexpected bonus was that the New Lanark outdoor market was on so mum and I had a nosey at the stalls before setting off on the walk. The pie stall caught my eye and I was really tempted to buy a couple of macaroni pies; they looked divine and I quite fancied the idea of eating one for lunch whilst looking over Corra Linn. I had a full packed lunch in my bag though so I decided against it in the end.
There had been a lot of rain in the days prior to going so I had high hopes that the river would be in spate and I’d see the falls in all their glory (which had never happened in all the times I’d visited previously). Alas it wasn’t the case. The lower falls are always noisy and full which lured us into a false sense of hope. As we climbed we could tell that we had picked another “normal” day. It is always a beautiful walk though, and normal in this case is actually pretty spectacular.
Fast forward almost exactly a month and I was back again. Why so soon?? Facebook! I’d seen photos that somebody posted in a walking group I follow on Facebook which suggested that the falls were in spate so I wasted no time and headed back on 4th November. What I saw that day was nothing short of breathtaking. The combination of autumn colours with the falls in full spate is just incredible. It felt so special to have finally experienced it. Where possible I’ve included photos below showing the difference between a “normal” day and a “rare full spate” day.
On reaching the weir at the top of the gorge it felt soooo good to continue on and explore a new route! It is only a little over 1.5 miles from New Lanark to the weir, so if you didn’t know better you’d expect to walk roughly the same distance down the other side to get back to the start. Not the case though – there is approx 5.5 miles left of the circular walk when you reach the weir! The reason for this is that there isn’t another bridge downstream until you reach Kirkfieldbank.
We were initially a little disappointed on our first attempt of the loop. Again it was because of a lack of water in the river. The weir was holding it all back! From the first viewpoint on the west side of the Clyde it looked like water hadn’t touched the rocks for quite some time: moss and fern and grass were growing on the rocks. It looked like an abandoned landscape; a place people used to come to visit but closed off for many years and nature was taking over. I guess the reality is that mankind took over with the construction of the weir controlling the flow of the Clyde downstream!
On my next visit a few weeks later it was a different scene altogether. I actually couldn’t believe the difference! As I moved downstream making a stop at each and every possible viewpoint, I was in awe of the power of the water, the noise, the beauty. I do wonder whether I have been spoiled now – I’m going to hope for this experience every time from now on!
Ok, ok so that’s the waterfalls, but what about the rest of the circular walk – what are the paths like? Is it worth doing?
Yes! For the first 4 miles or so expect scenic woodland trails and views of the river gorge you aren’t used to seeing. I commented to my mum that the walk from Kirkfieldbank up to the weir would be a fab walk in it’s own right.
The walk through Kirkfieldbank itself is on residential street pavements which wasn’t my favourite part of the walk but it was only a couple of hundred meters down to the bridge and then we were back out in the countryside.
We did get a bit confused just after the bridge crossing. The pre-plotted route on my mobile mapping app was telling me to go right, but that looked like it was taking us onto someone’s driveway. We went out onto the main road to see if there was another path we had missed but it didn’t appear to be the case so we opened the gate and nervously walked past the front door of the cottage. We soon realised that the road extended beyond the cottage and breathed a sigh of relief.
Whilst in Kirkfieldbank and around the bridge area we passed a family who seemed to be doing the same walk. The two young boys looked about ages with my two sons (8 and 10 at the time). I was impressed that they seemed to be not only managing it physically, but also be enjoying it. I remember thinking that I need to step up my game a bit with my two as they’d never manage a 7 miler without lots of moaning! But I am writing this almost exactly a year later and it is still the case that they would struggle so I haven’t done very well on that front….. Hmmm…
Castlebank Park was a pleasant surprise! I’d never heard of it before, but it was really very beautiful. I had a chuckle at the entrance where there was a gigantic South Lanarkshire Council sign setting out the rules for the park. I mean, who is going to stand and read all that? So therefore what is the point in displaying it all at the park entrance?? I’ve included a photo below for you, which has also been the subject of a popular Facebook post.
And just like that we were back in New Lanark!
My advice is to keep an eye on social media and as soon as you see that someone has been and experienced the falls in full spate, to get your boots on and go! Keep this circular walk for one of those rare full spate days and it will be a walk you’ll never forget. For “normal” days, stick to the regular Falls of Clyde walk which is 3.7 miles up and down the east side of the river and is stunning all year round.