Scottish Wildlife Trust’s (SWT) Falls of Clyde Visitor Centre re-opened to the public today (Monday 10 October 2005) following completion of major refurbishment work costing a total of £500,000. The centre was officially opened by local Lanark MSP, Karen Gillon.
New interpretation in the centre has deliberately employed all senses in an effort to get closer to experiencing the hidden lives of key species to be found on the reserve. Badgers, bats and peregrines are the focus, with complete aural experience to be had in the Bat Booth. The survival plight faced by the spectacular peregrine falcons, one of the reserve’s most famous residents, is also explored along with the nocturnal adventures of the badger. Live CCTV gives a birds-eye view of the nesting falcons and the famous Corra Linn waterfall that inspired the writer and poet William Wordsworth.
Speaking at the opening, former community education worker Karen Gillon MSP said: “Scotland is blessed with a landscape full of wildlife richness and in New Lanark there is both industrial history and natural beauty in abundance. The Falls of Clyde Visitor Centre combines a fun experience while educating visitors about serious wildlife conservation issues. As a gateway to the reserve, the centre more importantly inspires visitors to get out and enjoy Scotland’s diverse natural heritage.”
Structural and renovation work carried out has ensured that the new facilities are accessible to all and provide a flexible space for use by, among others, the local junior membership group Watch. Working with Richard Shorter Architect and Studioarc for the exhibition design, the construction work started on site in early September 2004. Carefully consideration had to been given to the listed status of the building but at the same time, the requirements of visitors remained a priority.
As well as exciting new features in the visitor centre, paths improvements have also been introduced on the reserve. Making the most of the awesome views and stunning scenery, visitors can now enjoy more clearly marked walking routes as well as new additions such as specially commissioned seats along the banks of the River Clyde, each engraved with animals and birds to be found on the site. As SWT chairman Sandy Kerr said, the result is something SWT can be very proud of; “SWT’s Falls of Clyde Wildlife Reserve is a spectacular site. We now have in place a facility that will enable a greater range of visitors to enjoy and understand the wildlife wonders – thanks to assistance from many supportive sponsors."
The Falls of Clyde Wildlife Reserve covers 59 hectares and is home to over 100 species of birds including breeding peregrine falcons. Along the River Clyde gorge there are four spectacular waterfalls as well as features such as Corra Castle, a fifteenth century castle, and The Hall of Mirrors. SWT received management of the reserve in 1969 with the visitor centre first opening to the public in 1984.