Photo Opportunities & Walks, in and Around Lanarkshire

Updated on the 10th of May 2021

Anyone who knows me will know that I love the outdoors, I love exploring and finding places to walk and to take photographs. I’m always on the lookout for new places to explore and capture and I am happy to share my knowledge with others in the hope they can benefit from it too. So, that’s what this post is all about, I’ve put together a list of some places that I’ve enjoyed going to for my photography however there are a few places that I have not yet visited. I have researched these sites and they’ve been added to my list of locations to visit as I’m confident they offer great local opportunities. I have listed all of the locations on the Google map below, clicking on the location will give you some information about the site. I have split the map into photo locations and walks so it’s easier to select which one you want, you can filter the options by clicking the square symbol with the arrow on the top left of the map.

If anyone reading this wishes to contribute to the list please feel free to drop a comment. However please leave a description and Google Maps coordinates so it’s easy for others to find.

Lastly I would like to ask anyone who visits any of these sites that you show respect and please do not enter the buildings as some are in a bad way and can be dangerous. Also some are privately owned like Cambusnethan and Eastend and their owners do not want anyone entering the buildings.
If you wish to get in contact regarding anything within this post on please feel free to email me at questions@viewthroughthelens.co.uk

Well I hope after reading this you find somewhere worth exploring and photographing. If you do please feel free to let me know how it went, would you recommend the sites I’ve chosen? If you want to link any pictures you’ve taken into the comments then please do.

Thanks very much for reading, hope you find something of interest.
Paul

Below you will find some websites that I find are a great help when I’m looking for places to visit. I’ve mentioned a few times about looking at old maps before heading to some of these sites so you can get an idea of what once was there and what may still be. I would normally look up pictures on Instagram and Flickr as well as a Google search. It helps you give you an idea of what you may want to capture.

For old maps I use the National Library of Scotland, it’s free and has extensive coverage and the maps can be overlaid. http://maps.nls.uk/geo/explore/#zoom=5&lat=56.0000&lon=-4.0000&layers=1

I also get a lot of ideas from a Facebook groups I am part of. The main ones are “Lost Houses of Clyde Valley”. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1475717922681828/ and “Castles, Mansions and Historic Houses of Scotland”. https://www.facebook.com/groups/642086055910658/permalink/803741759745086/

There is also the excellent “Blantyre Project”. http://www.blantyreproject.com/

RAW Around the Ages. A Day at Loch Leven.

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Before I start, I’ll apologise for the lower resolution images used on this post. In this trip out I used only my mobile phone (LG G2) for photos. I recently unlocked my phone and have since installed a custom camera that allows manual settings and Adobe DNG RAW files. So all photos were taken as RAW then edited using Snapseed on my phone. I was curious to see how far I could push my phone and what image details could be recovered when editing. It’s certainly not going to replace my DSLR however most of the photos came out better than I expected especially the ones with blown out sky. Anyway, there ok viewed on a tablet or phone but not so good on a laptop or PC.

Now moving on to my lovely walk around the loch.

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Last weekend my wife and I had our annual night of freedom from the kids. We booked into the Green Hotel in Kinross for a night and were very much looking forward our day and a half of peace and quiet. After a nice afternoon at the hotel and a lovely meal that night we were well relaxed and rested. We had decided we would go walking the following day but had not decided where and spent some time looking at various places to visit. However, we finally decided that we had Loch Leven at our door so we should use it.

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This is Loch Leven in Perth and Kinross, the fresh water one, not to be confused with the sea loch up on the west coast of Scotland near the village of Glencoe. The loch has a heritage trail that you can walk round, its just over 13 miles (21km) in length and is fairly flat and easy to walk. It is a very pleasant walk although, it is a long walk if you do it all.

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There are plenty of benches to rest upon, I’d say you’ll find one every 10 minutes or so and there is some lovely spots for picnics too. The benches are lovely, they all have a phrase or saying carved into them, I really should have taken a picture of one of them. You don’t have to walk the full 13 miles, there are various points you may stop at and enjoy the view as well as a few places you can stop for a quick refreshment.

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We chose to walk it all and stop at Vane Farm, its an RSPB site with a nice little cafe where we refuelled with cake and coffee. image

If you start at Kinross and walk around clockwise it’s about 9 miles to Vane Farm. There’s a tunnel that goes under the road, you walk down the steps and it’s only 2 minutes on the other side. You can drive here and park up then take a walk around the reserve from here also. image

It’s a busy place, lots of walkers, joggers and cyclists however I was very impressed with how little rubbish there was laying around and there was not much dog mess either. The council are doing a good job of keeping it clean and tidy.
It has some beautiful view points and you have good views of the islands in the loch. There are 7 islands visible these days although this was not always the case, prior to the loch being drained it covered a far wider area and there were only a couple of islands visible.

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Loch Leven Castle sits on one of the islands, this was where Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner in 1567. It can be reached by ferry at certain times of the year and is managed by Historic Scotland. Unfortunately due to it being a good distance away and with me using only my mobile I have no decent pictures of the castle, sorry. There is also St Serfs Inch which is the largest of the islands and was once the home of a monastic sect and had a priory built on it. The history of this area goes back a long way. Loch Leven is an RSPB nature reserve and a site of special scientific interest.

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If your in the area and are looking for a relaxing walk then I would recommend it. The whole walk is estimated to take around 5 to 6 hours depending on fitness however it can be walked quicker, we managed it in just over 4 hours, this was with a coffee stop included. As I said though you can shorten the walk if you wish and there is decent public transport options to help you with that.
If after reading this you feel the need to explore the area and decide to stay a night or 2 my review of the Green Hotel is on TripAdvisor from 27th February. All reviews for this hotel can be found here http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/194060?m=19905

As always, thanks for reading.
Paul

A Walk Through History

First of all let me apologise as its been weeks between posts, I just can’t seem to find the time to keep this site going, however I am determined I’m not giving up. Most weekends I have been out somewhere and I do have photos to post. I think though I am going to have to start taking pictures in JPEG instead of RAW as this is mainly what holds me up, I never seem to get time to process them!

Anyway enough of my apologetic whining!

So, a few months back I stumbled upon a reference online to a castle I had never heard of, Torwood. After some reading up I found that it’s not to far a drive and that there was not only the ruin of a castle but the ruin of broch also, known as Tappoch broch. For those who do not know of brochs they area very old fortified dwellings once common in Scotland and Ireland, around 2000 – 3000 years old. Needless to say the 1st chance I had I took a trip over.

It did start as a rather dreary morning however it brightened quickly and turned out to be a splendid day albeit a little to bright for pictures as you’ll see, a few burnt out skies! We found a small layby just after the village of Torwood and parked up. There is a rather nice walk up the hill through some forest by a disused mine and quarry. Had it not been raining I would have a great 1st picture to show. The quarry is flooded and there has to be hundreds of old tyres floating in it. However there was a few ducks all swimming around between the tyres not seeming to mind the horrible looking water. It would have been an interesting shot. Now it’s not to long a walk from the car to the broch, maybe a mile, mile and half although it’s all uphill however it doesn’t take to long. It’s a nice enough walk through the forest however it’s not any different from any other, nothing special to see, although I’ll mention that this was once a royal forest used for hunting and for timber.

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Once you reach the broch its a little underwhelming as it’s just an overgrown hill, until you get near to the crown of the hill that is. As you get closer you see the stonework, the ditch surrounding it and the stairs going into it.

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Its walls can’t be more than maybe 7 feet at their highest but there is enough left to see that this was once quite large with thick defensible walls.

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Standing on the hill with the trees cleared away it would have looked quite imposing I would imagine. At this point it was about 7am and the sun was getting higher and the clouds were clearing away although it was a little chilly. We stayed there for about an hour or so, got some pictures, went exploring then moved on further up the hill towards the castle. The walk from there to the castle again could be no more than a mile and its a fairly easy walk, a slight incline then a slight decline and it levels out.

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You come onto a gravel road that leads to the castle and some house near by, you get a great view from here across rolling fields. In the distance you can see the Falkirk Wheel.

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Just of to the side of the road thee is a path and you get a nice side view of the castle from there.

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A view from the road
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Falkirk Wheel in the distance

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The castle is now only a shadow of its former self with only one building still standing, however any castle enthusiast can see that this castle was once much larger with a central courtyard and high walls on all sides, it’s a real shame only this small part now exists. The castle is a ruin and is not accessible, I believe it’s privately owned.

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Entrance road to the castle

There is not much shade around the castle and the sun was bright at this point so as you can see I managed to get the sky blown out a little in a couple of shots. Now had I not plans for later that day I would have liked to explore around the area some more as it looks as though there was more places for a wonder and I am sure more photos to be had however it just means another trip some point later in the year, hopefully!

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We didn’t head back the same way, we followed the road down by the houses presuming it would bring us out in Torwood village, which it did.It was a pleasant tree-lined avenue with lots of daffodils lining the way.

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The walk back was all downhill and in a straight line, it took about 20 minutes and that was with me stopping to take a couple of pictures.

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Now as luck would have it, we made it back to the car, packed our gear in the boot and as it closed it began to rain, then pour. I love those days when the weather is on your side!

Now I have purposely not written about the history of the two sites, I would have been here all day! I would encourage anyone who may be interested in either site to a take a trip over and explore and there is info online for both sites too should you wish read up. I will say though, One thing I found interesting was, the day started with the walk up to the broch which is around 2500 years old, then we came to the castle that is around 450 years old and then the last part of the walk took us to the modern-day village, which is very modern in places with a lot of houses built this century. Hence the title of my post as it was a walk through the ages.

As always, let me thank you for reading through and again I apologise for the length of time it takes me to get things updated.

Paul

A Change in the Weather

Well this last few weeks the weather seems to have been all over the place. It wasn’t to long ago we managed 3 seasons in one day! All of a sudden though we have some sunshine and warmth, good old Scottish shorts and t-shirt weather (10°+!).

So, it was only the 2nd day of the easter holidays and I was already getting moans and groans of “I’m bored”, “I’ve nothing to do”. So I packed a picnic, myself and the 3 tiny terrors into the car and went to Barons Haugh Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Motherwell. It’s a lovely place for a walk, situated in a large estate with lots of hidden corners to explore.

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The weather held up, there was a bit of a chill wind at times however in general it was a very pleasant walk.

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We found a nice corner that gave a good view of the River Clyde and set out our lunch.

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My picnic packing skills must be fairly decent as a few swans appeared and decided to join us for some sandwiches.

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We were out for a good 5 hours and only made it half way round (children are so slow!) however we did manage a not too shabby 5 mile walk, not bad for 3 kids under 10. I will say though, trying to watch a one year old and also take photos is not as easy as it sounds. Every time I pulled the camera out he was off! His brothers were not much better!

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Seen as I am supposed to be improving on my very limited photography skills I decided to only use my Pentax 50mm lens, no zoom except my feet. Most of our walk was trees and riverside with little to look at other that swans, ducks and birds and reeds. However on the way back up to the car we did manage a short stop at the old cemetery.

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It’s in a poor state, very overgrown and a lot of damage to the grave stones.

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It’s a real shame however it also grants it some character. I’d love to have seen this place in its hay day as there was once a church also that sadly nothing remains of.

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Well as always, thank you for taking the time to read through and I hope you liked the photos. If your in the area and have never been I would recommend Barons Haugh.
I’ve been a little behind with my editing however I will aim to get my next post on soon as possible. I’ve been out a bit recently and have more to share.

Thanks again,
Paul

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