(The Falls of Clyde...well, the bits in between)


WHERE IS IT?:The Clyde is one of Scotland's larger rivers so often has water when smaller rivers don't. Near Lanark it goes over 3 large waterfalls and an little one. From upstream these are Bonnington Linn, Corra Linn, Dundaff Linn (the little one at New Lanark) and Stoney Byres. Below Stoney Byres is the stretch of the Clyde more usually paddled.

This description is in two sections, from Bonnington (NS 88378 40651) to Corra Linn (NS 88403 41438) then Corra Linn to Kirkfieldbank (NS 86734 43940).

This is a spectacular, scenic and serious trip.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: The get out is at Kirkfield Bank Bridge on the A72 that runs from Glasgow/Hamilton to Lanark. Coming from Glasgow, before the road crosses the Clyde at the bottom of Kirkfield Bank, take the right turn and park up. The get out is a path up steps river left about 20 metres down from the new bridge.

For the get in continue up the road you've parked in for several miles. Where the road takes a right angled turn right (chevrons) take the track/road on the left. Follow this for a mile or so to the dam above Bonnington Linn .

The get in is river right just below the falls, a path/ scramble starts by the ruins of a small bridge.

APPROX LENGTH: 4 km, split into 2 sections by Corra Linn.

TIME NEEDED: 3 hours to allow for portages/ inspection.

ACCESS HASSLES: Seems OK. This section of water has been done intermittantly over the last 15 years. It probably deserves to be done more often.

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: The upper section is completely dam controlled, so water level can vary wildly. The dam at Bonnington has three sluices. We went there with one
sluice flowing and as we watched, in a period of about 5 minutes, the river was turned off completely.

This description is based upon water going over all 3 sluices.

GRADING: Mainly 3/4. The rapid at the bottom of the first section (by (Bruce's Cave) must be grade 5 at this level. At lower levels it looks OK and at higher levels a chicken shoot appears river left.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: The trip is split by Corra Linn, a double fall of 5 metres and 10 metres onto rocks (no plunge pool). The get out for the top section is directly above the lead into the falls.

Advise inspecting the whole of the top gorge from the good path that runs river right.

If necessary the lower rapids can be inspected by a similar path.


Bonnington Linn to Corra Linn.

Bonnington Linn is possible river left (grade 5?).

Picture: Christina Fraser, Paddler: Leslie Simpson

Otherwise get in river right. Grade 3+ rapids, lead to the last rapid (Bruce's cave). At this level the last rapid (river drops into an undercut hole) is probably grade 5, portage and inspect river left. Or get out river right and start the portage for Corra Linn.

Flat water leads to the get out river right just past a dyke feature. Portage past Corra Linn almost down to the power station. Squeezing through a gap in a metal palisade fence leads to steep steps (best to lower boats) down to the spectacular pool below the falls.

Corra Linn to Kirkfield Bank

Paddle up to falls then grade 2 down to the power station outfall, a good play wave forms here. Then flat down to intake weir for New Lanark. Take the weir on the right then 200-300 of very continuous grade 3 rapids lead to Dundaff Linn (grade 4). This 2-3 metre high fall should be taken HARD left down a step feature. At this level the correct line is guarded by a tricky drop. This section is not techically hard but is serious.

Then float past New Lanark (grade 2). A good play wave forms at the outfall from the New Lanark hydro scheme. Continue on mainly flat water to the get out at Kirkfield Bank.

OTHER NOTES: You could continue flat water with a long portage to the more usually paddled section of the Clyde.

Update from Robin, June 2006...'Tom Brown (now probably somewhere in Uganda) tells me that when he was at Strathclyde Unuversity they regularily kayaked Bonnington Lynn. This is the top most waterfall at the get in. From my understanding of what he said they did it river left of the island. Also he had no recollection of the hole at the bottom of the first section so it may not be as bad as it looks...'