140. Greenock to Dumbarton

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.

Port Glasgow Town Hall with Bow Wave sculpture

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.

Newark Castle with “doocot”
Heading to Kelburn Park
Timber Ponds at Kelburn Park

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

Looking across the M8, the Clyde to Dumbarton Rock with Ben Lomond in the far distance
The view down the River Clyde towards Dumbarton from the Erskine Bridge

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.

Crossing the Forth-Clyde Canal
End of the line for the Forth-Clyde canal

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.

A tight squeeze to get underneath this bridge

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



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