The river Clyde flows from the Southern Uplands of Scotland through the towns of Lanarkshire before reaching Glasgow and opening out into the Firth of Clyde with its islands and scenic views.

The Clyde was formerly a major shipbuilding centre, where such liners as the Queen Mary and the QE2 were built. The shipyards are now in decline, although some yards still make things like oil rigs – one famously crashed into the Erskine Bridge as it was being floated out to sea!

Glasgow gained its status as a merchant city on the strength of its tobacco imports from America, which were shipped in on the Clyde.

Glasgow’s city fathers are trying to regenerate Clydeside, with new buildings like the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre and the Glasgow Science Centre – this was built on the site of the former Glasgow Garden Festival of 1988. The old Clyde Port Authority buildings are being demolished to make way for residential and commercial developments. The Clyde is connected to the river Forth by the Forth and Clyde canal.

While much of the Clyde flows past fairly industrial towns like Motherwell and Wishaw, it becomes more picturesque (and cleaner!) as it flows past New Lanark, where the Falls of Clyde are spectacular when in full flow, and the Corehouse Nature Reserve preserves local wildlife. The Clyde Valley is also home to several small villages which are ideal for family outings, and the area is famous for its tomato greenhouses and garden centres.

As the Clyde flows to the sea at the Firth of Clyde, it passes holiday resort towns like Largs, Helensburgh, and Dunoon. Nuclear submarine bases at Faslane and Holy Loch are here, but so are the beautiful islands of Cumrae, Bute and Arran. In former times, paddle steamers like the Waverley would sail from Glasgow and ‘take you down to Rothesay and be back for tea, the way that it did when we were wee’.

The Clyde, then, is the most important river of west central Scotland, and has a major impact on geography and life in the area.

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