After spending quite a bit of the summer travelling to Germany and Croatia, I was finally happy to get back on track and exploring Scotland again. I was kindly invited to explore the New Lanark World Heritage Site and discover the cotton mills and learn about life in the village for those worked and lived their during its prime.
New Lanark is the perfect day out for families or those who love learning about history and heritage. The village is the proud owner of several restored cotton mills and even boasts UNESCO World Heritage status. Along with the production of textiles and the visitor centre for the public, the village is still thriving with local businesses, a hotel and hostel! So if spending a whole day here wandering the mills and houses of former residents, you can even stay overnight!
Nestled on the banks of the River Clyde, this unique and historical village is surrounded by intimidating woodlands, giving it a secluded and community feeling (something I think that wasn’t a coincidence!). Originally founded in the late 1700s by David Dale who was selective in his location (utilising the Clyde to power the mills), there is a look and feel about the village that pays homage to times gone past; maybe it was lack of mobile phone signal, the fact that buildings still had their original character, or the family-friendly vibes throughout the village.
There are several buildings and sites out can visit, including the Mills, Annie McLeod Experience, Robert Owen’s House, Village Store and Robert Owen’s School.
We were made very welcome by the kind lady at the reception desk who printed our tickets and explained the exhibitions to us. One notable point to make was staff and visitor centre seemed to be very accommodating to foreign tourists, so just ask if you are looking for the introduction in another language!
We were guided from reception around to the Annie Mcleod experience, but not before stopping to discover the large steam engine used to power the mills.
ANNIE MCLEOD EXPERIENCE
The Annie McLeod experience takes visitors on dark ride through the life of one of its young residents – Annie McLeod. Here we explore what it was like living and working at the mills, touching on subjects like school, community fellowship and the general opinions of Robert Owen himself. The ride is around 10 minutes long and isn’t suitable for those with claustrophobia (think of it as a super slow moving roller-coaster through dark corridors lined with information and sounds.
MILL 3 & ROOFTOP GARDEN
After coming off the Annie McLeod ride, we were guided towards one of the working mills where we could see the textile machinery spinning wool for the New Lanark wool! We were even lucky enough to see one of the workers in action! There was lots of information provided about the textiles produced at the mill in an easy exhibition style setup, which we could walk around at our own pace.
Whilst still in the Mill 3 building, we were given the opportunity to take an elevator up to the Rooftop Garden and Viewing Garden which gave us panoramic views of the village, mill lade and River Clyde.
ROBERT OWEN’S HOUSE
After exiting through the Mill Shop and Cafe, we headed up the hill through Robert Owen’s Garden and into his house. The whole house was set-up as if untouched and currently lived in. There was even an opportunity to dress up in vintage clothing. It was here that we learned how Robert’s ideologies came alive, both at New Lanark and abroad in America. I mentioned earlier in this post about how there was a closeness and sense of community at New Lanark, and this is might not have been by accident. Owen belived very much so in the idea of a collective utopia and how the lack of competition in human labour could benefit everyone. This was by far my favourite exhibition in the village!
MILL WORKERS HOUSE
The mill workers house was our next stop. From the Annie McLeod experience, we found out that typically families shared rooms and only in Robert Owen’s house was there ‘more rooms than people’. And it was in here that we could experience what a typical house in the the village in the 1830s and 1930s was like.
THE FALLS OF CLYDE
The Falls of Clyde are on the immediate outskirts of the New Lanark village and offer three walking routes, all of which offer different woodland viewing points, wildlife sighting opportunities and waterfalls.
They aren’t part of the New Lanark tour, but being an outdoorsy person, I couldn’t not mention it in this post. We went on a day when it was pouring of rain and we weren’t prepared for a rainy woodland walk (between 2K – 5K). So we will be back!
Overall, we had a fantastic day discovering the history of the mills and the lives of the workers. Each exhibition offers you different experiences, I particularly enjoyed the Annie McLeod ride and Robert Owen’s house – it was so interesting reading about his thought process behind New Lanark and his ventures in America. I would also like to thank the staff who were really helpful in answering our questions, and as I witnessed, very accommodating to non-English speaking tourists.
New Lanark also offers a variety of temporary exhibitions and activities, so not one trip is every the same! If you want to find out more about New Lanark and what’s on just now, visit their website here.
Disclaimer: Our trip to New Lanark World Heritage Site was complimentary in return for an honest review, but as always, all views and opinions are my own.