A UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site, the eighteenth-century planned village of NEW LANARK lies a mile below the neat little market town of Lanark. The first sight of the place, hidden away down in the gorge, is unforgettable: large, broken, curving walls of honeyed warehouses and tenements, built in Palladian style, are lined up along the turbulent river’s edge. The community was founded by David Dale and Richard Arkwright in 1785 to harness the power of the Clyde waterfalls in their cotton-spinning industry, but it was Dale’s son-in-law, Robert Owen, who revolutionized the social side of the experiment in 1798, creating a “village of unity”. Believing the welfare of the workers to be crucial to industrial success, Owen built adult educational facilities, the world’s first day nursery and playground, and schools in which dancing and music were obligatory and there was no punishment or reward.

While you’re free to wander around the village, which rather unexpectedly for such a historic site is still partially residential, you need to buy a passport ticket to get into any of the exhibitions. The Neoclassical building that now houses the visitor reception was opened by Owen in 1816 under the utopian title of The Institute for the Formation of Character. These days, it houses the New Millennium Experience, which whisks visitors on a chairlift through a social history of the village, conveying Robert Owen’s vision not just for the idealized life at New Lanark, but also what he predicted for the year 2000.

Other parts of New Lanark village prove just as fascinating: everything, from the cooperative store to the workers’ tenements and workshops, was built in an attempt to prove that industrialism need not be unaesthetic. Situated in the Old Dyeworks, the Scottish Wildlife Trust Visitor Centre (daily: Jan & Feb noon–4pm; March–Dec 11am–5pm; £2) provides information about the history and wildlife of the area. Beyond the visitor centre, a riverside path leads you the mile or so to the major Falls of the Clyde, where at the stunning tree-fringed Cora Linn the river plunges 90ft in three tumultuous stages.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Scotland features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

8 alternative UK winter breaks

8 alternative UK winter breaks

The UK gets pretty grim during the winter, with its dark, early nights and splutteringly cold weather. But if you can’t wait until spring to start having fun …

06 Nov 2017 • Greg Dickinson insert_drive_file Article
Sipping Speyside: on the whisky trail in Scotland

Sipping Speyside: on the whisky trail in Scotland

Whisky is much more than Scotland’s national drink – it’s blended deep into the country’s history and culture. Donna Dailey learns more and discovers th…

18 Oct 2017 • Donna Dailey local_activity Special feature
The most beautiful places in Scotland – as voted by you

The most beautiful places in Scotland – as voted by you

It was only a matter of time before word got out. That Scotland, with its full-figured glens, heathery hills and castle-topped crags, is one of the most beautif…

04 Oct 2017 • Mike MacEacheran camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook