Lesmahagow, Sandford & Strathaven
Start/Finish: Lesmahagow or Strathaven
Transport: As start and finish
Refreshment: both Lesmahagow and Strathaven are well served by tearooms, pubs and restaurants
Distance: 22 miles
Time: 3-4 hours
Difficulty: moderate (hard in places)
Terrain: surfaced back roads throughout
The intervening countryside is wild and empty, and the roads are particularly lonely. It is also Covenanter country and you will encounter important sites from this bloody period in Lanarkshire’s history known as the Killing Times. For much of the 17th century those who rejected the king’s interference in their religion took to the moors to worship illegally. At Waterside it is worth making the effort to view the spot at Skellyhill where David Steel, a Covenanter, was captured and summarily executed by a Highland officer.
Points of Interest
1. Lesmahagow Priory
was founded in 1144 by Benedictine monks based at Kelso on land granted to them by King David I. The ruins of the priory are next to the Old Parish Church.
2. Skellyhill Martyrs Monument
– from Waterside a steep farm road leads to the spot where David Steel, a Covenanter, was captured and shot dead in 1686 by Lieutenant Chricton of the Highland Light Infantry.
3. Strathaven Castle
– the ruin of this 14th-century castle sits to the west of the Common Green. It is said that one of the lairds of the castle bricked up his wife in a niche within the castle as a punishment. When a portion of wall collapsed, human remains were found. In the 17th century government troops patrolling for Covenanters were stationed here. Covenanters were imprisoned and shot within its walls.
4. Purlie Wilson
led a group of rebellious weavers from Strathaven to Glasgow as part of the 1820 Radical Rising. Wilson was executed in Glasgow but his body was stolen and buried in the town’s cemetery.
5. Spectacle E'e Falls
can be reached from Sandford by a short detour on foot. The unusual name comes from an incident where a local lad, upset at being prevented from courting the miller’s daughter, placed a spectacle glass in the thatched roof of his mill by the falls. The thatch caught light and the mill burned down.
Lesmahagow to Strathaven.
From Church Sq, with Lesmahagow Old Parish church at your back, go to Main Street and turn right. Turn first left up a short steep hill and turn left on to Trows Rd. Climb moderately steeply out of Lesmahagow on Trows Rd. Almost at the top of the hill turn right signed for Waterside 2, Strathaven 10. Road continues to climb. Go over the bridge at Birkwood Mains.
When there is dead end ahead turn to the left. Beyond High Whiteside farm the road descends. At Waterside, Skellyhill martyrs monument is steeply uphill on the right. Go straight on to continue with route. The road starts to climb again and the countryside goes through the transition between grassy fields and open moor. Continue uphill past the turning for Auchrobert. Here the road starts to level out.
Road descends to Kypeside. Follow the road as it bends to the left, then right, then left through Kypeside and continue to Deadwaters and the junction with B7086. Turn left. Follow the B7086 for one mile to just beyond Castlebrocket farm. Take next left when B7086 bends sharply to the right at Kypeside livery stables.
Continue past Kypeside livery stables. Follow the High Kype Rd – narrow in places, lined with tall beech hedges. At West House follow the road round to the right. Continue downhill. At crossroads with an old black and white signpost go straight over. Continue to junction with B743.Turn right and descend to cross Brown’s Bridge.
Take right immediately after bridge at Brownsbridge cottage. Follow road for 1½ miles. Keep left at 30mph road sign and descend into Strathaven on Newton Rd. Newton Rd comes to junction with Lesmahagow Rd opposite fire station. Turn left. Follow Station Rd round to the left and then to junction with Kirk Street. Turn right.
Take first left – Wellbrae, to arrive in Strathaven Common Green.
Strathaven to Lesmahagow.
From Common Green go to the left past the Tudor coffee house and continue past the Boo Backit Brig towards the Star Inn. At end of narrow road turn right at the give way and then right again at roundabout below Strathaven Castle. Take first left after castle before pedestrian crossing and follow one-way street uphill past Drumclog Inn.
At give way continue straight on to take up Lesmahagow Rd past fire station and follow road out of Strathaven and downhill over River Avon. Then climb moderately steeply uphill. At top of hill turn left into village of Sandford. Continue past parking for Spectacle E’e Falls and village hall.
And follow road to the right over green iron bridge. Before village square turn right (02 – 42 Stonehouse Rd). Go uphill to junction with School Rd. Turn right into School Rd and follow out of Sandford.
Ignore turnings for Stonehouse and follow road for two miles continuing to T-junction with B7086 and turn left. Enter Boghead and take the right signed for Lesmahagow (alternative route). Continue through village and follow road round to left.
Leave Boghead. Road swings to right signed Lesmahagow 1½. Descend into Lesmahagow. Beyond Lesmahagow high school turn right and follow Main St into Church Sq.