The River Clyde is the dominant physical feature of Glasgow and its environs, an area that comprises the largest urban concentration in Scotland, with almost two million people living in the city and satellite towns. Little of this hinterland can be described as beautiful, with crisscrossing motorways and grim housing estates dominating much of the landscape. Beyond the sprawl, however, rolling green hills, open expanses of water and attractive countryside eventually begin to dominate, holding promises of wilder country beyond.
West of the city, regular trains and the M8 motorway dip down from the southern bank of the Clyde to Paisley, where the distinctive cloth pattern gained its name, before heading back up to the edge of the river again as it broadens into the Firth of Clyde. North of Glasgow trains terminate at tiny Milngavie (pronounced “Mill-guy”), which acts as the start of Scotland’s best-known long-distance footpath, the West Highland Way.
Southeast of Glasgow, the industrial landscape of the Clyde valley eventually gives way to a far more attractive scenery of gorges and towering castles. Here lies the stoic town of Lanark, where eighteenth-century philanthropists built their model workers’ community around the mills of New Lanark.