18 In Expat Life/ Travels

New Lanark – A Must See in Scotland

When I moved back to Scotland last year I created a new bucket list for this country, which includes visiting all of the World Heritage Site this country has to offer.

Some of them are hard to reach – in St Kilda or Orkney, so far that many here probably don’t even know about it. Some of them, are easily achievable – the Old and New town of the beautiful city of Edinburgh. 

There is one however that intrigued me, right there in the middle of the country. I fell upon New Lanark last year when I was doing research for my bucket list and I thought it looked amazing. It’s a (still active) cotton mill dating from 1785 situated in a beautiful valley in Lanarkshire – south east of Glasgow.

It’s been high on our list since I came back last October, but it is very hard to reach if you don’t have a car so we kept postponing it – until this July! The Brit’s dad was visiting and he suddenly told us he could drive us there. Yes, thank you!


It was an absolutely gorgeous day out and even though my expectations were high, they were fully met and even exceeded when we were out there.

It’s pretty impressive when you start the walk down the hill to reach the buildings of the mill. There are multiple mills and they are all surrounded by tenement houses where the labourers used to be housed. They are now gorgeous council homes. 

We arrived just in time to have a quick bite at the cafe (give it a miss if you go – it was awful food and service) before catching a tour. The tour was a must! Our guide was so knowledgable and told us in details the history of the mill. I won’t go into details but the conditions used to be awful, as you’d expect. People (including children from age 4) would work from dusk until dawn and the risk of dying were high. The took the smallest people to run under the machines to pick up leftover pieces of cotton and they’d often get scalped by the machines. 

But, things changed when Robert Owen, a young Welsh socialist inventor, comes to visit the mill and falls in love with the owner’s daughter. They get married and he gets a mill – well the people who worked at the mill got an amazing boss in return. He made the conditions so much better – for hygiene, education of children, safety, no punishment, better hours, childcare for mothers, etc. The guy was a reformist and a feminist. The Brit and I left the mill with a fridge magnet (that we collect) of a great quotation of his about women’s rights. 

Anyhow, I digress! The tour was fabulous and I highly recommend it! 

After the visit we relaxed on the rooftop garden, which was also gorgeous and gave an excellent view over the entire site. 

Afterwards, we decided to go up to see the Falls of Clyde (which made and still makes the mill function). The Brit remembered seeing them as a child and he said they were impressive and worth the walk. We hiked walked up the hill to make it to a good viewpoint and I was SO disappointed. It was such a sad looking fall. Even the Brit wasn’t exactly sure what had happened since it has been raining so much this summer – how could the water level be so low? We shall never know, but it was definitely underwhelming (especially for a Canadian who is used to Montmorency & Niagara Falls). 

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Ever been to New Lanark or any other World Heritage site?xx


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