In October 2014, I was contacted by Andy Bain who said whilst out walking recently in Low Blantyre (when the River Clyde was low), he observed what looked like a tunnel and a nearby structure. The ‘Tunnel’ was photographed from the opposite side of the river in July 2014 during a real dry spell and could easily have been missed if walking on the Blantyre side.
The “tunnel” is arch shaped, made of sandstone and set into the earthworks on the riverbank. The walkway is above it. I’ve heard numerous accounts from people saying they used to play in a tunnel at the clyde, made of sandstone and I am now beginning to think this is what they meant.
Asking for more information, Andy told me, “Follow the path to the left of
the David Livingstone pavilion, go down the steps & take to the left with the ‘tall posts’ on your left side & carry on for about 300yds or so, you come to a clearing in the woods & its off to your left near the riverbank.
Andy also sent a photograph of what looked like a structure. Something to investigate i thought, so on 2nd November 2014, I headed off with my dog for a walk to see if I could identify both the “tunnel” and the structure.
I do think I have a few answers though. There are no structures, nor tunnels shown on any of the older maps at this location. However, the walkways are noted on them, and more importantly, three small streams draining out Low Blantyre into the Clyde.
I’ve marked up the 1910 map, showing my findings and indicating where the three streams are. The path is easy to find and indeed a fairly good walk now the Centre have recently upgraded it. About 100 yards or so in, you come to an old quarry which contains Stream 1, and I suspect is the clearing that Andy refers to. The small quarry contains some evidence of worked stone and is horseshoe shaped with steep high craggy cliffs. Standing in the bowl of the quarry with woodland all around feels quite eerie when you imagine the activity that was once there.
Beyond that, the path is more difficult to find and not so well laid out. All along the path, at the side of the Clyde are the remains about 3 foot high of a stone wall, which i admit look very much like Andy’s structure. I do think that is a wall, with entrance points giving access to the Clyde, perhaps for fishing.
Stream 2 cannot be missed. It’s more like a small ravine at the outfall point to the Clyde. Its about 10 feet deep and somebody has placed an iron girder over it, which at only 10 inches wide, makes a dangerous bridge. My dog was carried over the six foot span very quickly, which looking back on this, was probably quite irresponsible.
The path continues on hidden by Autumn leaves and on this particular rainy day, very muddy. At times, i stopped to find the path, but kept my bearings by being close to the River Clyde edge. Eventually I came to Stream 3, which was my indented destination. Looking over the edge to the Clyde, i could see there is quite a drop, and it tied in well with Andy’s picture. Unfortunately though, I could not see the tunnel, or by now, concluded to be an old culvert. At this location, Stream 3 delimits the fields and railway embankments, down this small stream into the Clyde. The River itself was a torrent and very high. Not a good day at all to see the culvert. Indeed, it was so high, that the top of the arch must have been covered by water. The riverbank was extremely flooded.
I stopped for a few moments to reflect that children playing here in the past may have thought it a mysterious tunnel across the Clyde. I fully intend to revisit when the water is at low level, but left satisfied that the Tunnel in Andy’s picture is actually the Railway stream outlet, and if built by the Caledonian Railway must date from between 1846 to 1849. The structure, I am convinced is nothing more than the stone dyke wall running the length of the Clyde at this location, to beautify and make safe Victorian riverside walks.