Monday, July 21, 2008

Bothwell Castle and the David Livingston Centre

Entry for 19 July 2008:

We’ve been continuing to keep up our custom of Saturday Adventures whenever we’re in town. Last Saturday, for example, we visited the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, spending almost the whole time in the basement looking at old stuff: neolithic, bronze age, and Roman, with a smattering of early Christian artefacts.

For this week’s adventure, after a bit of research, we determined that we could easily visit Bothwell Castle by taking the train to Uddingston and walking about a mile from the train station. It was raining when we arrived (the weather has been most un-summerlike for the past couple of weeks), and our feet quickly got wet as we trekked down to the castle, but it stopped after a bit and by the time we arrived bits of blue sky were showing. Although it’s a ruin, Bothwell Castle towers imposingly on a bend in the River Clyde, red sandstone, cut from the same rock as the stone that clads Glasgow’s famous red sandstone tenement flats, like the one we live in. Unlike many of the castles we’ve visited, however, this one saw plenty of action in its time, changing hands repeatedly in the wars between England and Scotland in early 14th century. We have the castle visit thing down to an art by now: scope out the great hall & chapel, kitchen, buy a guidebook, talk to the guide, climb up and down the tower(s), etc. The old keep, or donjon, where the lord originally lived, is particularly impressive, even with only half of it remaining.

The guide recommended that we hike up the river a mile to the David Livingston Centre, which I’d seen written up in our Scottish Heritage book, but hadn’t quite put together with Bothwell Castle. It turned out to be a lovely afternoon for a walk up the River Clyde’s leafy banks, in and out of shade, cloud and sun, until we reached the large, sturdy foot-bridge between Bothwell and Blantyre. There, in the middle of Lanarkshire, in the old cotton mill town of Blantyre, is a museum and park dedicated to celebrating the life of the Scottish medical missionary, African adventurer, and 19th century abolitionist. I found him to be an inspiring example of living by one’s values and ideals.

We caught the train from Blantyre and were back in time for Kenneth’s 4pm dugeon & dragons sessions with his friends in Ohio. As with the Museum of Scotland the week before, we are likely to return to both of today’s destinations, and we have explored another little bit of the Glasgow area, backwards and forwards in time and space, like Dr Who's TARDIS, making the unfamiliar familiar, finding our way into a life here.

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