Last modified on 16 August 2016, at 12:51

River Clyde

The Upper Clyde Valley, and the town of Biggar.

The River Clyde, is the most important river in western-Scotland and, at 158 km (99 miles) long, is the second longest river (after the Tay) in Scotland. It is formed (at the aptly named Meetwater) by the confluence of Daer Water and Potrail Water in the Lowther Hills of Lanarkshire near the sources of both the Tweed and River Annan. It wanders off to the north-east as far as Biggar before heading more or less north-west past Lanark, Clydesdale, Glasgow and Clydesbank then enters its estuary, the Firth of Clyde, near Dumbarton.

The Firth flows another 105 km (65 miles), initially west then with a sudden turn to the south to meet the so-called North Channel, part of the Atlantic Ocean, at the rocky islet, Ailsa Craig, off the coast of Ayrshire. Large scale dredging of the waterway between Port Glasgow near Greenock and Glasgow itself during the 18th century brought ocean-going vessels to Glasgow, and made the river a conduit for much the industrial produce of south-western Scotland on its way to the New World, and the area the site of a booming shipbuilding industry. The first sea-going steamboat, Bell's Comet was built at Port Glasgow in 1812.

(The Old Celtic name, possibly meaning “cleanse”, may have derived from the Indo-European clou, and was also possibly the name of a river goddess. The Roman historian Tacitus refers to it as the Clota. It became the Gaelic Clutha. Today it is the Cluaidh. The word “Firth” used by the Scots to describe an estuary or arm of the sea derives from the Old Norse. It has the same root as “fiord”.)

And on a lighter note.... The places mentioned seem to refer to the "Firth" as much as the "River".


Brewer's Britain and Ireland, pp. 254-5.
Webster's Geographical Dictionary, p242