Ramble by the Priory

A Victorian account of walking alongside Blantyre Priory. A tourist’s tale preserved in history and a beautiful old print of Bothwell Castle from Blantyre Priory grounds.

“Following the downward course of the river, we now direct our steps towards the ruins of the ancient Priory of Blantyre, which are situated in a beautiful and secluded spot, about three-quarters of a mile from the village. The footpath leading to the Priory lies along a finely wooded bank, the leafy luxuriance of which forms a delightful shade to protect us from the vertical radiance of the midsummer sun. Under the trees the earth is carpeted with a rich profusion of vegetation. We observe many of our most graceful uncultured grasses, with their drooping plumes and silken panicles, waving by the margin of the Clyde, which, from the impulse of the dam at the Blantyre Works, runs here with considerable velocity. In the deeper recesses of the wood, we find the elegant little melic grass (melica uniflora) intermingled with the glossy leaves of the wood-rush and other sylvan plants. We also observe the

“Stately foxglove fair to see,”

(digitalis purpurea)nodding its towering crest of crimson bells, the broad-leaved helleborine (epipactis latifolia),with its curiously plaited foliage, and those most beautiful of our indigenous geraniums, the wood crane’s-bill (geranium sylvaticum) and dusky crane’s-bill (geranium phoeum) growing in great abundance; while the pink-flowered woundwort, the purple-tufted vetch, the yellow bed-straw, and a bright profusion of kindred blooms are thickly strewn wherever an opening in the leafy canopy overhead permits an entrance to the solar beams. The time of the singing of birds is nearly past, but occasionally the joyous chant of the wood-warbler, or the merry trill of the wren resounds through the green gloamin’, and drowns for a time the hum of countless insects which seem to be enjoying their little hour of life with music and dance in the genial summer air.

After a pleasant ramble through the tangled mazes of the wood, we arrive at the Priory, which is situated on a precipitous rock rising to a considerable height above the Clyde. The building, which is of a fine-grained red sandstone, has apparently been at one period of great extent. It is now, however, a complete wreck. A portion of the walls and gables, with several windows and a fireplace, on the verge of the precipice, with a kind of vaulted chamber now threatening to fall in, are all that has been spared by the hand of Time. There are several trees growing among the ruins, and the walls are partly covered with the mournful ivy,

“Still freshly springing,
Where pride and pomp have passed away,
To mossy tomb and turret grey—
Like friendship clinging.”


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  1. Hi Eileen – I suspect this tunnel you refer to was part of the mill works. The river was reprofiled by the mills to form a better construct for the lade. I’ve never heard of a tunnel at David Livingstone’s Memorial before, only at the Priory. Sounds very Interesting and i would love to know more if you have any other detail. Thank you.

  2. There is indeed a tunnel running under the clyde. It runs from the Blantyre side of the bridge going to Bothwell at Livingstons Memorial. My friends and I used to play in it, we thought it was daring and exciting, but never dared to enter too far in. It is hidden from sight by the bank at this side of the suspension bridge. My brother, Douglas Black used to walk this bridge every Sunday going to church in Bothwell.

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