Wikipedia has it that Carnwath ‘is a farming village set in rolling countryside, on the edge of open moorland and with views to the Pentland Hills. Its proximity to the A70 makes it popular with commuters to Edinburgh’.
According to Undiscovered Scotland Carnwath ‘is an unusual place with a distinctive and attractive character. The functional and largely undecorated one and two storey buildings lining Main Street combine with a (near) absence of modern shop frontages to give a strong sense of stepping back into another century, and not the one recently departed’.
A local sign lists the main amenities as being the pub, the church, the masonic lodge, the school (many years closed) and the West End cemetery. It is thought that the first inhabitants lived here 2000 years ago. The discovery of the old dwelling near Wester Yardhouses showed people living above ground in the summers and below ground in the ‘Souterrain’ in the harsh winters.
On the day that I passed through, nearly all Carnwath’s inhabitants seemed ‘souterrain’. A small group of women stood outside the hairdressers eyeing me up and chatting. As I approached, the chatting stopped, but the eyeing up didn’t. A young man sauntered on the other side of the street, hoodie up, eyes down. Two teenage girls wearing impossibly short skirts stood on the corner, smoking and giggling. Truck trailers and tractors thundered down ‘Main Street’ leaving trails of dust. Dirty net curtains fluttered in their wake through open windows. This seemed to be a good place to be a window cleaner. The kind of place where not having your windows cleaned was not an option. The kind of place where window cleaners ‘cleaned up’ in more sense than one.
I stopped to ask an old man about the old school, a grand building in its time. ‘It’s been closed and boarded up at least 19 years’, he said. ‘Just a place where rubbish gets thrown’. Another man approached me at the T-junction on Main Street. ‘What kind of camera is that?’ he asked. ‘An old Hasselblad’, I said. We chatted for ten minutes or so. ‘The village seems very quiet’, I ventured. “Nothing going on’, he said. ‘Full of junkies’.
‘An unusual place’? Perhaps not so. A lack of modern shop frontages? Well, yes but not for the reasons intimated by the tourist hype … 1
Hasselblad 503; 80mm Planar; Fuji Acros 120 film developed in Perceptol 2:1 dilution using the ‘Two Teaspoonful two Bath’ method as set out by Barry Thornton.
- ‘Cannabis Cultivation Site found in Carnwath in Lanarkshire’, reports Police Scotland.. Local village people complain of “the terrible state and eyesore of the old school and garage on Main Street, anti-social behaviour, particularly on weekend evenings, too much traffic particularly heavy traffic’. ↩