Carnwath is a farming village set in rolling
countryside, on the edge of open moorland and with views to the Pentland
Hills. Its proximity to the A70 - locals call it the Lang Whang - makes
it popular with commuters to Edinburgh. The A721 will also connect you
to Carluke, Lanark, Peebles and beyond.
Carnwath is a very pretty village with
hanging baskets along the main street and considerable effort has gone
into improving the local environment in recent years. The Carnwath 2000
group, formed at the turn of the millennium, has been actively promoting
a number of partnership projects to secure a bright future for the area.
Carnwath holds the oldest foot race in Scotland and probably Europe, the
Red Hose, dating from 1508. Carnwath Gala Day is in June.
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.
If you fancy a bite to eat or a drink
there's the Wee Bush Inn which was built when the Main Street was the
Edinburgh/Ayr turnpike road. Until the 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.
Housing in Carnwath ranges from council
properties to terraced weavers cottages, family villas, country cottages
and new builds. One of the most unusual houses in the area is the
circular Hagrid's Hut on the outskirts of town on the Lang Whang. It was
once a water tower belonging to West of Scotland Water and was converted
in 2003. 'A' listed buildings include the Old Collegiate Church,
Carnwath Cross and Newbigging Mercat Cross.
Carnwath Primary is a feeder school for
Biggar High school.
Carnwath is served by the Lanark and Carluke
Advertiser and Lanark Gazette.
It is thought that Carnwath's history began
around the Motte which is now surrounded by Carnwath Golf Course. It was
almost certainly used as a place of worship by the ancient Druids.
Carnwath's name is a matter of debate. It may be a mixture of Danish and
Celtic meaning "cairn among the trees" or may be Saxon for "ford at the
A castle was built on the motte in the 12th
century and access to the keep was through a passage and up steps to
emerge at the top. Sadly nothing remains of the castle today.
Carnwath Parish Curch, at first sight, looks
like most other village churches but walk round it and you'll find a
small chapel, St Mary's Aisle which is the last remains of the
collegiate church founded in 1425 by Thomas, 1st Lord Somerville.
The Somerville family has long been
associated with Carnwath and in 1516 the 5th Lord Somerville
commissioned the building of the Mercat Cross to celebrate the village
achieving burgh status.
In 1508 the first
Red Hose Race (this link will open in a new window) was
run whereby the local Laird had to provide a pair of red stockings as
the prize. The race which reached its 500th anniversary in 2008, the
oldest road race in the world (see World Guinness Book of Records 2006),
is believed to have a military reason behind it. A fast runner could
bring news of any approaching invasion from the South to Edinburgh - the
red hose being the insignia by which the runner would be recognized.
The village has always been an important
stop for travellers and when the railway arrived in the 1800s it
blossomed into quite a bustling little town. The station has since been
closed and demolished.
Carnwath missed the worst parts of the
Industrial Revolution, although the collieries were never that far away.
The village now seems to have settled into
its role as a rural commuting community.
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