Scotland’s most populous county, Lanarkshire lies in the heart of the Lowlands. Lanarkshire is in essence the valley of the River Clyde; the Clyde rises in the Lowther Hills and flows south-westward and then north-westward to Glasgow, all in Lanarkshire, after which it widens into the Firth of Clyde.
Lanarkshire, with both Glasgow and its own rich coal mines, was a powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution and remains an eminent industrial centre even now that the coal has ceased. Lanark, the county town, stands near the Clyde, its textile mills still turning. A mile upstream is New Lanark, the model town built by Robert Owen, the reforming industrialist, for the families of workers at his factory, New Lanark Mills. Near New Lanark are the picturesque Clyde Falls; a pair of great waterfalls dropping 250 feet (albeit somewhat diminished in season from a hydro-electric scheme).
Further downstream the plain becomes flatter and the larger towns cluster; Glasgow lies not far. In this urbanized, industrialized area the major towns include Coatbridge, Hamilton and Motherwell. Coatbridge in particular is known for its industrial heritage and current industry.
Glasgow, on the Clyde, is one of Britain’s greatest cities, built up by the industrial revolution, transatlantic trade and the shipyards. Glasgow was the main motor of Scotland’s swift climb to wealth after the union and even after the shipyards have closed it remains the greatest commercial city of the north and one of the greatest in the whole kingdom. The northern end of Lanarkshire is wholly taken up with Glasgow and its suburbs, spreading over the flat land of the lower Clyde.
Away from the heavily urbanised parts in northern Lanarkshire, Upper Clydesdale retains some fine countryside, quiet villages and smaller towns like Biggar. The southernmost parts of Lanarkshire are within the mountains of the Southern Uplands.
County Town: Lanark
Main Towns: Blantyre, Biggar, Bothwell, Hamilton, Glasgow, Lanark, Motherwell, New Lanark, Rutherglen, Uddingston.
Main Rivers: Clyde, Douglas, Avon, Calder.
Highlights: David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre; Falls of Clyde; Tinto Hill; St Mungo’s Cathderal & Victorian Necropolis, Glasgow; Crookston Castle.
Highest Point: Culter Fell, 2,454 feet.
Area: 879 sq miles
County Flower: Dune Helleborine