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Carnwath is a village on the Southern edge of the Pentland Hills in Lanarkshire.
A conservation area set in rural countryside, Carnwath is at the heart of Scotland's central belt. Carnwath is reputed to be the town furthest away from the sea anywhere in Scotland! Carnwath is an unusual place with a distinctive and attractive character.
Red Hose Race
Carnwath also hosts the oldest foot race in Scotland - and probably Europe - The Red Hose Race, dating back to March 13 1508! It has seen many changes over almost 500 years but the running of The Red Hose is still a strong tradition in Carnwath.
Just incase you are wondering, hose was the Scots word for stockings or long socks, and each year a foot race is run at Carnwath and the local Laird must provide a pair of red stockings as the prize.
In olden days the name of the winner was cried from the Mercat Cross in Edinburgh. The origin of the race goes back to 1508 when James IV gave a Charter of the Lands of Carnwath to John, third Lord Somerville, granting him the lands and barony of Carnwath.
Under the charter, the Crown Vassal (or proprietor, now the Macdonald Lockhart family) is bound by the rent clause to pay: 'One pair of hose containing half an ell of English cloth at the Feast of St John the Baptist, called Midsummer, to the man running most quickly from the east end of the town of Carnwath to the cross called Cawlo Cross.'
On the main street you will find convenience stores, a gardening and lawnmower shop and craft shops, including a jewellers, but as the shops don't have modern frontages it feels like you're taking a step back in time.
Attractions in Carnwath
If you fancy a bite to eat stop in at the Robertson Arms Hotel. The Henderson family took over the hotel in 2005 and have lovingly renovated throughout. The hotel was originally three cottages built in 1823 and still retains many original features.
If you fancy a drink it is worth stopping at the Wee Bush Inn which was built when the Main Street was the Edinburgh/Ayr turnpike road. Until a recent fire it was the only pub in Scotland to have a thatched roof. For insurance reasons it has unfortunately had to be replaced with slates. The Inn's other claim to fame is that actor Oliver Reed was a regular visitor.
Carnwath has other great accommodation offers, including Carnwath Vineyard B&B, which is a 4 star high quality accommodation offer, and Dunsyre Mains Farm, a picturesque working farm offering B&B accommodation.
The village itself comprises a single street, set in open moorland, and sloping from the east to the west. Its strategic location in relation to the Pentlands and to the Clyde Valley, which curves sharply a mile to the south, led to the development of a castle here in the 1100s.
Little remains of the castle, but the impressive motte on which it was built can still be seen at Carnwath Golf Club, founded in 1907 at the west end of the village.
On the opposite side of the main road from the golf club and motte is Carnwath Parish Church. At first sight this looks like a fairly standard 1800s church with spire. But a stroll round the west side reveals a surprise, an almost separate tiny chapel, of a very much earlier date. This is actually St Mary's Aisle, a surviving part of the collegiate church founded here in 1425 by Thomas, First Lord Somerville and incorporating a church established in 1386.
At the centre of Carnwath is Carnwath Cross, the mercat cross, set back a little where the Main Street widens to form the Market Square. This was erected by the 5th Lord of Somerville in 1516 to celebrate the granting of burgh status to the village in 1514.
A Brief History of Carnwath
Although Carnwath is predominately agricultural the village also provides an excellent base for commuters, being so close to both Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The Wee Bush Inn in Carnwath was first established in the 1750's, benefiting from the main turnpike road from Ayr to Edinburgh. Because of this the inn maintains a prominent position by the roadside. The Inn's thatched roof was covered with corrugated iron for many years until the mid 1980's when Mrs Helen Wilson, the landlady renovated the whole building and restored the roof to its former thatched glory. Sadly, the Inn caught fired in 2002 and although rebuilding began the following year the roof has been replaced with slate.
Another feature of historical interest in Carnwath is the Carnwath Cross. The cross stands in the village centre and was built by Hugh, 5th Lord in July 1516. Allegedly it was built in conjunction of a Charter granted by King James the 2nd, in 1514 which rodered a market cross to be erected.
In 1962 the Cross was blown down but was renovated and re-erected, with the addition of a small metal cross on its top. Further to this a Mr Aitken in 1970 left money to purchase a new Urn which was also added to the crown of the cross.
St Mary's Aisle is the only remaining part of the Collegiate Church built in Carnwath in 1386. It stands at the west entrance to Carnwath alongside the parish church and is recognised as a Category A listed building. St Mary's Aisle is the mausoleum of the Lockhart family and previously of the Earls of Carnwath and the Lords Somerville.
Carnwath is only a short drive from the historic town and royal burgh of Lanark. Lanark is home to the world-famous New Lanark World Heritage Site and Castlebank Park, which has a childrens play area, and is a great day out for the whole family.
Castlebank park also provides access to the Clyde Walkway.
Carnwath is situated on the A721 and is a great base to see the beautiful surrounding countryside.
Events in Carnwath
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Attractions in Carnwath
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Accommodation in Carnwath
Ampherlaw Farmhouse B&B
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Old Medwyn Mill
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Robertson Arms Hotel
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