By Douglas Young
Poring over maps and detailed planning played no part in our Snoop and Skulk along the banks of the Clyde, whereas the first anniversary celebrations of Clydesider may have.
Actually it did have, as we had a vehicle to fetch home from the previous evening’s entertainment in Dumbarton’s Ben View Centre and the walk on a beautiful Sunday afternoon turned into a wee bonus.
Afore we step out into the sunshine a quick word about the event.
It’s uplifting and inspiring to see at first hand poets, musicians, singers, authors and photographers perform and display their superb talents, knowing every single one lives in our community. It’s what you’d expect from a community magazine and the invited audience loved it.
Volunteers organised the entire evening, setting up and clearing away and providing supper refreshments. If you missed it hopefully next year you’ll be luckier.
Anyhow, setting off from Cardross along the A814 – there is no alternative footpath yet – past the fruit and veg market gardens squeezed between road and railway along the Clyde to our right, and fields with many horses to our left, we reach somewhere which doesn’t really exist
Or didn’t until the residents of Ardoch got together and put up signs telling us it does.
Drivers might not see the difference between these fine road-signs with the Ardoch Crest and thousands of others across the county, but pedestrians will, especially if they happen to bump into a local resident also out snooping and…..err…out walking, and one of the people involved in their installation.
Community spirit in action.
We leave the road and take the marked footpath shoreside under the railway which has one of the lowest arches anywhere – easily touched by outstretched arm – and pass the 230-year old Ardoch House, the latest in a line of houses owned by the same family for over 600 years on the same site.
And run out of footpath. Vegetation and tree pruning may have obscured the path completely so we headed towards the beach and crossed a small bridge over a burn adjacent to the railway, picking up what may have been the path, but is now a mud-churned mess between high bushes and a broken fence. Single track and not easy on the ankles it appears to be churned up by cattle.
Here we move back onto the shoreline, much of it seaweed-covered boulders, and begin to think sticking to the road may have been easier. Low-tide permitted us to traverse wet sand for much of the way.
As the sun lowered behind Greenock and Port Glasgow a beautiful graduated sky of orange and blue reflected on the calm surface of the Clyde, just as we reached a fine tarmac footpath along the river’s edge
Looking up the hill there is a fine, clear view of Cats Castle, normally obscured by vegetation, bathed in golden sunshine. Feline gargoyles are a feature of the house which was previously known as Hazelwood. A bonus for skulkers, bare trees and bushes reveal new places to seek out at a later date.
Easy walking on level ground now, we saunter past Levengrove Park and pass a footpath sign with three choices – all bleached white by the weather – so we continue to follow the shore.
Fine views of the castle and Dumbarton Rock come into view along a very pleasing tree-lined street. On a warm summer’s day the bench seats would be well used but today all are deserted.
With the light failing fast we loop round the River Leven towards the beautiful stone bridge which carries Bridge Street into the town centre
In darkness the structure glows with the recent lighting installation, turning the stone pale purple, crowned with raised single posted lamps along the balustrades.
Lights shine out from houses and shops, street-lamps reflect across the flowing waters and the sky is an inky blue, we could be strolling across the Seine. A short walk through the silent Artizan Centre and down into the underpass towards the Ben View Centre, we retrieve our car and head back the short drive to Cardross.
This can be a circular walk, most of which is fairly level and easy going, part road, part rural, just be prepared for the poorer Ardoch section – the part with the official signpost.
But had it not been for Ardoch’s delaying tactics we would have missed seeing Dumbarton under cover of darkness and the beautiful 250-year old bridge, built in 1765 and in 1934 gaining the fine balustrades.