Watermeetings to Elvanfoot Railway Bridge

posted in: Connected with the Clyde | 0

In following the E side of the River Clyde North from Watermeetings, the lowest ground is initially narrow and fenced off from the pasture fields occupying the flood plain to the West. The banks of the river are low and sometimes ragged due to erosion which has induced them to slump here and there. They are degraded and largely free of vegetation at those places where the cattle have sought access to the water’s edge. The low ground gradually expands as a low island is approached where the river bifurcates (splits into two-Ed.). The broader branch delimits its West side and here the lowest lying ground fades out. The East bank opposite the South-West corner of the island is actively eroding, cutting back westwards into the improved pasture field. At this point, where the bank is c.1-2m high, the post and wire fence has been undermined and a new fence has been reset c. 1.5m to its West (NS 95446 14073). Although some of the posts of the earlier fence lie at the foot of the bank close to the water’s edge, what otherwise remains straggles North to a large straining post positioned close to the North-East corner of the pasture field (NS 95456 14120). In order to stabilise the fence at this point and provide this large stob (fence post) with some protection from erosion, the bank immediately below has been heavily revetted with a jumble of large boulders. These probably derive from field clearance and are quite different in character from the natural stratigraphy of the flood plain, which in this sector generally shows a band of small water-sorted stones between thicker deposits of brown-grey alluvium.


Leaving the island to the South-West, the lowest ground to either side of the river expands East and West as the first of a series of large meanders is approached. Although the vegetation remains unchanged, the rushes tend to occupy the hollows and abandoned watercourses that are situated on the long tongue of land that reaches towards the river as it swings first to the North-East and then South-West. The banks in this sector are no more than c.1-1.5m high. Having rounded the meander, the River Clyde swings North once more, leaving the last of the improved pasture fields to its South. At this point the East side of the flood plain runs close to the West scarp of a natural terrace upon which is situated one of a number of very large enclosures (centred NS 95341 14475). These are delimited by drystone walls and extend North-East from the Glenlochar farm buildings. The South-West part of this enclosure is distinguished by a series of parallel open drains running from North-West to South-East. These feed into three ditches set at right angles that run along the foot of the terrace and which appear to have conveyed the surface run-off North-East towards the bend in the river. A second, more random and wavy series of drains is also found in this part of the enclosure, but these also extend over the North-East sector of the field. This area was formerly at least partly drained by the Annanshaw Burn which is now situated just a few metres beyond the drystone wall in the next enclosure to the North-East (NS 95532 14687).This is no more than a shadow of its former self as it runs down the terrace from WNW to ESE, as the natural run-off which it would have collected has been diverted within this enclosure by another series of parallel open ditches set on a North-West to South-East alignment. These extend beyond the natural terrace out on to the floodplain where they drain into the last reach of the Annanshaw Burn before it flows into the River Clyde

Immediately S of the confluence of the Annanshaw Burn and the River Clyde, there is a broad tongue of low ground delimited by a pair of meanders. Aerial photographs reveal traces of a possible grass-grown rig system (rig and furrow=archaeology of past ploughed fields) aligned from WSW to ENE bordered by shallow rush-filled channels (centred NS 95895 14790). Fainter traces of a second area of cultivation can also be detected to its W, but the rigs in this system are narrower and set on a NNW to SSE alignment (centred NS 95750 14792). The improved ground on the E side of the river narrows beyond this point, while that on the W begins to broaden as the Crookedstane Burn is approached. However, a little further North the low ground on the West widens once more as the river swings into a series of minor bends in generally heading NNE.

A number of isolated telegraph poles sawn off at a height of c.1m-1.3m were noted on the lowest part of the floodplain in this sector (e.g. NS 96131 15530 and NS 96212 15715). Their core was rotten and it was initially thought possible that they belonged to an old line that had been rerouted. However, it soon became clear from some that retained strands of wire that the poles had been reused re-used as straining posts in old fence-line. Traces of another rig-system are visible on the aerial coverage (centred NS 96054 15966) immediately S of a buried gas pipeline which crosses the river from NW to SE (NS 96294 15912). Detritus from a past episode of flooding hereabouts included plastic packaging, glass bottles, a reel of fishing line and the blade of an old wooden paddle.

The river now alters course to head generally NNW as it meanders in four great loops towards the railway bridge carrying the main West coast mainline. A series of pylons running from WNW to ESE crosses the river (NS 95696 16542) and soon afterwards a second gas pipeline running on a parallel course crosses it to the North (NS 95678 16627). A short length of artificial levee on the West bank has been used to canalise the river in this sector (NS 95712 16460-NS 95670 16602).

Immediately South of the railway bridge (NS 95802 16801), both banks of the river have been strengthened with a revetment of large loose boulders (rock amour), which run up to the concrete abutments. These have been strengthened along the waterside by interlocking trench sheets which give way once more to boulder-built revetments on the far side of the bridge.

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