Scottish Lowlands Road Trip: Pt 8 – Lanark, South Lanarkshire

Not too long after leaving Biggar, we arrived in our final destination for the day, the town of Lanark…

Lanark:

Status: South Lanarkshire, Town, Scotland

Date: 15/02/2104

Travel: Car

Eating & Sleeping: N/A

Attractions: Tolbooth, St Nicholas’s Church, High Street, Tourist Information, Memorial Hall, William Wallace Statue, Aviation Sculpture, Lanark Loch etc

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Like most of the towns we have visited during this road trip, Moffat, Biggar etc, there is one main street that has most of the attractions in the town on. We found a parking space at the bottom end of the high street, which runs up the hill. At the very bottom of the hill is the church of St Nicholas.

Half way up, you can see the 8 foot statue of William Wallace (Died 1305, the ancient Scottish King) who once lived in the town. The church itself is very old, and was built by John Reid of Nemphlar in 1774, however the bell at the top of the tower is from 1110. The bell used to sit in the Church of St Kentigern, the ruins of which still stand today.

Between 2008 and 2009 a restoration took place, to keep the church in the immaculate condition it is currently in. It is easily visible from the top of the hill, as you will see later.

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Looking across the road from the church, is a great example of the architecture in the town, a lovely old stone building, which is typical around Scotland as a whole. It was purpose built for the Clydesdale Bank, in the late 19th century, before at least 1899. Check out this link to find out more information about the furnishings on this Category B listed building.

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Dotted all around the town is this symbol, of a two headed eagle, with the two heads facing away from each other. It can be found on the side of benches along the high street, as well as the full crest featuring on signs up and down the street.

This is the coat of arms for Lanark, and dates back to the 15th century, when Lanark was very important within Scotland, as it was used to check the accuracy of all Burgh weights throughout Scotland. In 1707 when Scotland united with England, this function was made redundant.

The crest itself has a crown at the top, showing Lanark as a burgh which it became in 1140. The Eagle was only added in the 17th century, and replaced a peregrine falcon.

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We climbed to the top of he hill, and the church is easily visible from here, almost a silhouette in the dying light. The interestingly designed street lamps run down the centre of the street.

In the distance the Lanarkshire hills are visible, and Lanark almost seems to sit in a valley between the hills.

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Past the top of the hill is a large Morrisons, with the small Tourist Information centre sat outside. Across from both of them is the train station, with direct trains into Glasgow city centre, on the Argyle Line.

The next street along, which runs parallel with the street ending at Morrisons, is the above building, the Lanark Memorial Hall, which opened in 1926. It was built as a memorial to the 232 men who died fighting for their country in World War I. Inside it is a popular arts venue with a large hall for visitors to view the performances.

It is a fantastic building, and a lovely tribute to those families torn apart by the great war. The detail is immaculate on the outside, and I like the little lights 3/4 of the way up, its almost like an extra layer of detail. It is almost certainly one of the grandest buildings in Lanark, and one I had heard about long before I got to visit the town.

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We began walking back down the high street towards the car, to start our journey out of Lanark. Down the left hand side of the street, coming down from the top of the hill, is the old Tolbooth building.

It was built in 1778, on the site of an earlier Tolbooth, and functioned as a Sheriff Court. A plaque on the side of the wall gives some more information about the building, but it’s slightly hard to read as it’s quite high up the wall. Also on the side of the wall is a map of the Lanark March Stone Boundary.

This comes from 1140 when King David I (1084 – 1153) granted burgh status to the town, and a condition of this was that the merchants of Lanark must check their boundary stones every year, which the people of Lanark still do. An annual festival is held in Lanark that celebrates the checking of the stones, called Lanimer Week. On the Monday evening officials and residents walk around the boundaries of the burgh. Various other events are carried out during the week, and it is usually held in June.

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Outside the Tolbooth is “Provost’s Lamp”, and the old tradition was that the lamp was placed outside of the house of the Provost of Lanark at the time. The Provost was the head of the local authority in the town.

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That was it for the high street, and it was starting to get quite dark now. We went back to the car, and moved up to the top of the hill, past Morrisons for a few quick stops at some local landmarks. The first of these was St Mary’s church, the local Parish Church, from 1859. From the outside it looks spectacular, especially in the late evening with the lights coming on around the building.

It is one of the largest and most well decorated churches I have seen outside the major Scottish cities, and the tower is exquisite. Inside are 12 carved statues, but it was shut by the time we got there.

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We moved out of the town centre, and back in the general direction of the motorway to return to Carlisle. We passed an interesting sculpture sat on a small hill on the way out of the town, adorned with three small planes. A car park next to it allowed us time to stop and investigate.

An information board at the base of the sculpture tells of how Lanark was the site of the 1st Scottish International Aviation Meeting, in 1910.

10 nations together sent 20 aviators to Lanark, and they participated in a variety of flying competitions, with various records broken including:

1) Altitude Record of 6,750 feet was broken by Armstrong Drexel from the USA.

2) Speed Record of 75.95 mph was achieved by James Radley, England.

3) The youngest aviator in Europe took to the skies in Lanark, Marcel Hanriot from France, aged 16.

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Directly across from the sculpture is Lanark Loch, built in the 19th century. The 20 acre loch was built by Hugh Marr the architect, in the place of a small pond that once occupied the site. There is a variety of wildlife in the area and different sports are undertaken on the loch including fishing and boating.

So that was the end of our long day trip around Scotland. Lanark is a very interesting town, with lot’s of  history and some fine buildings, that together make one of the most interesting towns in Southern Scotland. It also happens to be the place where the Scottish Parliament had it’s first meeting, way back in 978.

Nearby attractions including the historic village of New Lanark, founded in 1786 as a Cotton Mill town by David Dale (1739 – 1806, Scottish businessman) which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of only five in Scotland.

Lanark can be reached at the end of the Argyle Line coming from Glasgow by train, as well as off the M74 at junctions 9 – 12, near the central belt which includes Glasgow, Falkirk and Edinburgh.

Lanark is a great town, so if you ever get to visit South Lanarkshire, take a look, and discover what makes the town so unique.

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