River Avon

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Aven or Avon, a river of Dumbartonshire, Stirlingshire, and Linlithgowshire. It issues from Loch Fannyside, in Cumbernauld parish; runs about 8 miles eastward through Cumbernauld and Slamannan, and between the latter parish and Muiravonside; then goes about 12 miles, chiefly north-eastward, along the boundary between Stirlingshire and Linlithgowshire to the Firth of Forth about midway between Grangemouth and Borrowstounness. Its chief affluents are Polness Burn and Ballencrief Water, both on its right bank. Much of its course winds along a shallow glen amid softly beautiful scenery; but its entrance into the Firth is along a deep muddy cut through a wide expanse of sands and silts, which lie bare at low water. A splendid aqueduct of the Union Canal and a grand 23-arched viaduct of the Edinburgh and Glasgow railway span its glen on the boundary between Linlithgow and Muiravonside parishes.—Ord. Sur., sh. 31,1867.

Avon, a river of Lanarkshire, rising upon the Ayrshire boundary, on the southern slope of Distinkhorn Hill (1258 feet), near head sources of the rivers Ayr and Irvine. Thence it runs 4½ miles north-eastward along the boundary between Ayr and Lanark shires; goes thence north-eastward through Avondale parish and along the boundaries between Stonehouse and Dalserf parishes on the right, and Avondale, Glassford, and Hamilton parishes on the left, to a point near Larkhall; turns there to the NW into Hamilton parish; and runs, in a north-westerly direction, through that parish to the Clyde, at a point 1 mile ENE of the town of Hamilton. Its length of course, inclusive of windings, is about 24½ miles. It receives Glengavel Water about 2 miles after entering Lanarkshire; Drumclog Burn, about 2 miles further on; Little Calder Water, 2¾ miles WSW of Strathaven; and the Kype, its largest tributary, 1 mile SSE of that town, besides a number of lesser burns. It passes within 7 furlongs of Strathaven, and 4 of Stonehouse; and, in the last reaches of its course, flows through the Duke of Hamilton's grounds. It is reckoned one of the best trouting streams in Scotland, and used to be frequented, almost to its source, by salmon. The scenery of its upper reaches is bleak and moorish; that of its central reaches is of various character, and abounds with beauty; and that of its lower reaches is gorgeous and romantic. Its banks, along much of the lower reaches, are alternately bold and precipitous, knolly and broken, softly green and wildly wooded; and at length they become a stupendous tumbling gorge, of similar character to the glen of the Esk at Roslin, but on a grander scale, and Superior to every other celebrated sylvan Scottish defile in combinations of romance and power. The crags tower up in many places to the height of 250 or 300 feet; the summits and ledges, and many ` a jutting frieze,' are festooned with shrubs, or crowned with stately timber; and the alternations of recess and abutment, of grandeur and gracefulness, almost speak to the imagination like a colossal copy of Gothic masonry. Half way along this gorge, crowning a rock, nearly 200 feet above the bed of the river, like ` sentinel of fairy land,' stand the ruins of Cadzow Castle, the original seat of the ducal family of Hamilton, destroyed by command of the Regent Moray after the battle of Langside; and on the opposite side of the ravine stands the modern summer-house of Chatelherault, so called from the French dukedom which the Hamiltons possessed, and presenting a fantastic foil to the natural scenery around by its red walls, its four square towers all in a line, its gaudy pinnacles, its globular ornaments, and its rich parterres. The ancient forest of Cadzow or wooded park of the Dukes of Chatelherault, ` when princely Hamiltons' abode ennobled Cadzow's Gothic towers,' had this romantic glen for its centre, and spread out from its mouth over the haugh along the Clyde. Hither arrived James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, in frenzied flight, from his assassination of the Regent Moray at Linlithgow; and, here, accordingly is laid the scene of Sir Walter Scott's ballad of Cadzow Castle, which tells how a hunting party, headed by the duke, were inspiriting one another's fierce party quarrel against the Regent-and how the frantic murderer rode headlong into the midst of them, and

` From gory selle and reeling steed
Sprang the fierce horseman with a bound,
And, reeking from the recent deed.
He dashed his carbine on the ground.
'Sternly he spoke- "'Tis sweet to hear
In good greenwood the bugle blown,
But sweeter to revenge's ear
To drink a tyrant's dying groan.
'Then speed thee, noble Chatelherault,
Spread to the wind thy banner'd tree;
Each warrior bend his Clydesdale bow;
Moray is fallen, and Scotland's free."

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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