It’s going to be an early start today. I am away from my hotel at 5:30 in the morning and driving along the Clyde and around to Dumbarton, where I will finish my walk. I then have to get a train to Glasgow Queen St, then walk to Glasgow Central then get a train back to Greenock. The plan works well and I am back in Greenock and walking by 8:30.
I know todays walk will be quite noisy as I will never be very far away from the A8 and A82. As I walk out from Greenock along the A8, I am accompanied by four lanes of traffic of early morning commuters and it is a relentless hustle and bustle of the Monday trip to work. At least the weather is fine, as yet again I have a lovely sunny day, albeit slightly chilly. The walkout from Greenock has been along a good path, with the occasional “Coast Path Trail” sign pointing this way or that. I pass the impressive Port Glasgow Town Hall, with its equally interesting metal sculpture of the bow and wave of a ship.
My first relief from the A8 is when I reach Newark Castle, hidden from the A8 by a large factory specialising in ship repairs. This 15th century castle is normally open to the public and looks to be in good repair. I am able to walk through the landscaped grounds and continue onto Kelburn Park by means of a wooden-decked walkway, while the A8 traffic thunders overhead. At Kelburn Park I am able to see numerous wooden stakes coming vertically out of the river, the last vestiges of what were Timber Ponds – enclosures to hold imported timber from Canada and America in salt water until the timber was ready to be used. My walk in Kelburn Park is short-lived as a Clyde Coast Path directs me under the A8 and railway up onto the Woodall roundabout. For the next 2 miles I will be walking on a pathway alongside the A8 as far as Langbank. I pass, without noticing, from Inverclyde into Renfrewshire
Not far after Langbank the A8 becomes the M8 continuing into Glasgow, while a much quieter A8 veers off to the right. I climb with the A8 onto slightly higher ground and have excellent views down onto the M8 and across the Clyde to Dumbarton. I pass through Bishopton turning off down the B815 passing over the M8 and the large Hewlett Packard HQ. I am soon on the approach road to the Erksine Bridge. I had been looking forwards to walking over this bridge, as I had driven over it many many times, but not been able to enjoy the views. I was mindful of the Samaritan signs, which usually adorn bridges and railway crossings, and of the two young teenage girls who in 2009 jumped from the bridge in a suicide pact. In 2011, new suicide barriers were installed along both sides of the bridge. I don’t know how effective they are, but the design would make it very difficult to climb over the railings.
I am afforded with some fantastic views back down the Clyde towards Greenock and the Cowal peninsular. I cannot see much on the opposite side of the bridge because of the metal barriers and strong sunshine. As I take photos at the crest of the bridge, I can feel significant movement under my feet due to the traffic – not for the faint hearted! On the far side a path leads down into Old Kilpatrick, the site of the ferry before the bridge was built. I am now in West Dunbartonshire. I am soon walking alongside the Forth-Clyde canal for a short distance before it reaches its lock terminus where the canal connects with the River Clyde.
I have been walking along a NCN cycle way and the busy road some 100m has become my old friend, the A82. Although I can hear the main road, the cycle way hugs the path of the railway. I am soon on the outskirts of Dumbarton and walking past large warehouses holding Chivas Regal whisky. Shortly after the warehouses I see a green lane heading back towards the river, I follow it and pass under the railway track by means of a very low bridge, so low in fact I am bent double to get underneath it! I meet a couple shortly after who have just visited the Castle which sits atop Dumbarton Rock -a volcanic basaltic plug. I walk up to the entrance but see that its £4.50 to get in. I decline, as I have already had a great view for free from atop the bridge. I head past the football ground and into Dumbarton and my car parked near the station.
I had never imaged I would have got so far north of the Erskine Bridge by Christmas, but I am making good progress and hopefully will be able to push on west and get stuck into those dreaded sea lochs.
NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:
Distance today = 20 miles
Total distance = 2308 miles