The wonders of Clyde Valley Woodlands NNR – 6 year transformation

For the past six years the stunning Clyde Valley Woodlands National Nature Reserve has been transformed.  Martin Twiss, Operations Officer based at our Hamilton Office explains how the area has benefited enormously from the activities and energy of the Clyde and Avon Valleys Landscape Partnership (CAVLP).

CAVLP - walking

This Landscape Partnership, funded via Heritage Lottery Fund, has enabled a huge amount of ecologically important and imaginative 70+ access projects  to be undertaken across this National Nature Reserve (NNR)

This NNR is unique in its somewhat unusual structure, being comprised of six separate gorge woodlands that stretch from the dramatic Falls of Clyde at New Lanark to the extensive woodlands at Chatelherault. These ancient woodlands are managed in partnership by South Lanarkshire Council, the Scottish Wildlife Trust and SNH. This is an example of a true ‘living landscape’, the individual woodlands being intimately wrapped around and linking the towns and villages of the mid Clyde Valley.

CAVLP - map

The geographical and organisational scope of CAVLP has allowed for a collaborative approach to managing these internationally important ash–oak woodlands.

Supported projects

  • Perhaps the most eye catching individual project was the long sought after removal of 25 hectares of conifers at Chatelherault, a popular visitor destination at the gateway to the Clyde Valley. Here, long since hidden dramatic river gorge landscapes have been opened up by the removal of the conifers, which had obscured the views and suppressed the natural vegetation. For a Landscape Partnership there can be few things more rewarding than the large scale re-awakening of an almost forgotten landscape and the newly opened vistas at Chatelherault are as breath-taking as they are surprising.
  • In addition, much needed management plans have been produced to guide the future management of the NNR woodlands.
  • With CAVLP’s help, The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) has implemented access improvements and interpretation at the NNR sites of the Falls of Clyde and Nethan Gorge.
  • Through our funding, we have improved 1.6km of path at Cleghorn Glen and Cartland Craigs to make these steep woodlands more accessible to walkers and more resilient to adverse weather.
  • At Mauldslie Woods, South Lanarkshire Council has been able to carry out extensive woodland management and is planning to improve and coordinate access for a range of user groups.
  • Throughout the valley, CAVLP has contributed to the upgrading of over 20km of path, providing people with enhanced access to their local natural heritage.

The mid Clyde Valley is a distinctive, diverse and dramatic landscape, but perhaps less heralded than it should be? Over the past six years the endeavours of the CAVLP team have greatly added to the ecological and cultural strengths of this region, leaving a quality of landscape that speaks for itself. Nonetheless, CAVLP has created a legacy through which the importance and the profile of the NNR and its surrounds will continue to be lauded.



Hidden panoramas revealed at Chatelherault Country Park – check out the Drone footage  capturing the extent of a multi-phase plantation conifer removal project in one of Scotland’s oldest and greatest designed landscapes.


The Legacy

CAVLP has resulted in a significant legacy for the landscape, people and communities of the area and has recently secured a suite of proposals to help ensure that the investment of time, money and skills will build on these achievements. The proposals include building local capacity to drive forward community improvement projects, volunteering, outdoor play,  websites and digital archives, CAVLP touring exhibition, active travel, further work on graveyards and designed landscapes, managing the historic environment and work with schools.

CAVLP - Forest SchoolsCAVLP - launch

In particular, Community Action Lanarkshire (CAL) is a two year, Leader funded project that will support groups, organisations and individuals to come together with a common purpose of improving towns and villages in rural North and South Lanarkshire. The project team will support local people to take the lead in developing a community action plan where there is none, and driving forward action to improve communities for years to come.

Led by local people and supported by the project team, CAL activities will help develop, fund and deliver projects to improve lives. Taking part in CAL activities will encourage more people to take part in community life, tackle inequality, keep money in the local economy, improve the environment and create new opportunities for learning, jobs and play.

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