Ease: Easy, suitable for families and children. Might be muddy underfoot at points.
Length: Approx 3 – 3.5km
Duration: 1 - 2 Hours
Make Time: While enjoying the nature reserve take some time out for yourself to breathe in the fresh air. Practicing deep breathing helps to slow the heartbeat and lower blood pressure, allowing us to feel calmer, focused, and more in control. One tip to help with your breathing is to visualise holding a dandelion in front of you. Slowly breathe in and out visualizing the seeds detaching from the stalk and being moved around by your breath.
Head outside on a walk around the historic site of Carron Ironworks, through the dams to where the West Carron village once stood. This is where the workers of the ironworks were housed and had developed a vibrant community. The Carron Dams trail was developed by the Hidden Heritage group of local volunteers, who spent several weeks researching the history and untold tales of the area.
Point 1: Carron Ironworks, Clock Tower
The clock tower you see today is all we have left of the magnificent frontage of the works that stretched the length of the old Falkirk road at Carron Bridge. This was where the company offices were housed. The window you see here belonged to the publicity department.
Point 2: The Dawson Mission
The gospel hall that once stood here was the spiritual centre of the West Carron Village. It was a rudimentary building with a tin roof, built by the hard-living, hard-working iron workers. The hall was not only a place of worship but a place for socialising and entertainment. Some of the most popular activities the Mission provided were the Tuesday evening craft group, the women’s group and the Band of Hope (for children).
Point 3: Soo Hoose
The ‘Soo Hoose’ is the pub where the workers of the Carron Ironworks would go, after finishing their shift. ‘Soo’ is the Scot’s word for a pig. Near this pub, a good 60 or seventy years ago, there used to be a piggery and people used to collect the kitchen scraps to feed the pigs. The pub though, might have been named after the ‘pig iron’. A technique where iron poured from the blast furnaces, is guided along in channels in the ground.
Point 4: The Dykes
This road was the way in for the foundry men to enter the works. They wouldn’t have entered via the formal offices on old Falkirk Road. We called this road ‘the dykes’ an old Scot’s word for the walls. You’ll see on your right the tall boundary wall of the works while on your left is a lower wall, next to the River Carron.
Point 5: West Carron Village
The village of West Carron was once a thriving community of Carron Company employees situated behind the works near the furnace lade, the railway line, and the area known locally as The Dams. The houses were built in blocks around a square. They consisted of a room and kitchen and were the typical working class houses that you would expect to see in the first half of the 20th century - outside shared toilets, no running hot water, shared washhouses
Point 6: The Lade
The lade today looks like a stagnant body of water, overgrown with weeds and reeds, which on a warm summer’s day can smell quite ripe. 250 years ago this was a body of water, running true and clear. The lade drew its water from the river Carron, and ran for about a mile to the area known today as ‘The Dams’ which used to power the blast for the furnaces.
Point 7: The Dams
Back in the day the dams were used to power the blast for the ironworks’ furnaces. Instead of the fenland (a type of natural habitat) you see today, you should image a loch, with thousands of gallons of water. Now the dams are nearly drained with only a small pond remaining in the middle. The marshland you see around you, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a habitat for a wide variety of insects and birds.
Point 8: The Snail
This fine snail is just one of the many wee and not so wee beasties you’ll find down the dams. You’ll see it’s written a silvery poetic message in its slime. It’s telling you to slow down, follow its trail into the dams and appreciate this gem of a nature reserve.
Point 9: Forge Row
There is little that remains today of what was once known as Forge Row. This used to be a row of cottages with pantile roofs, some of the earliest examples of Carron Company housing. Now all that remains are a few broken bricks showing the shape of the foundations. Forge Row was built to accommodate some of the company’s most valued workers.
Point 10: Solitary Bee
Now don’t be frightened of this giant bee – there’s only one of them. That’s because it’s a solitary bee and they don’t really sting. They nest in the ground by themselves, not in a hive. They do like to stay close to other solitary bees though they don’t work together. Solitary bees are great pollinators and depend on meadows of wild flowers to survive.
Now you’ve finished the walk why not test your memory with a quick virtual quiz? Try and answer without looking back at the walk text.
1. Which department did the remaining window belong to?
2. What was the children’s activity in the Gospel Hall called?
3. What does Soo mean in Scots?
4. Where did the Lade get its water from?
5. Who lived on Forge Row?
6. Where do Solitary bees nest?
If you’re looking for more inspiration or resources we have gathered some information on what’s available in our libraries, check out our list here.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this activity and we look forward to seeing your photo’s using #FitForLifeFalkirk on our social media channels, if you have any additional feedback on our activities please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Credits: The Carron Dams Heritage Trails was created by the Hidden Heritage: Lost Villages community research group, led by Lorna Swinney. The full version of the trail, along with the audio guide produced for it is hosted at the Falkirk Explored app. The Falkirk Explored mobile app is developed by the Great Place project. Great Place is a partnership scheme between Falkirk Council, Falkirk Community Trust, Scottish Canals and Central Scotland Green Network, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Great Place seeks to highlight the rich heritage that makes Falkirk a wonderful area to live and work. It celebrates Falkirk’s long history, industrial heritage, the beauty of the landscape, as well as the stories of the vibrant local communities that live in the area.