Day 157: Gourock to Dumbarton

Distance: 26.40 miles

Ascent: 1274 feet

Weather: Sunny & Hot, 30 minutes Torrential Rain at End of Day

Accommodation: Wild camp Outskirts Dumbarton


I wanted a moderately early start, and Liz had kindly left all the cereals and things out allowing me to eat early and get off promptly. The sun was out, and I set of down the roads and back to the coast. As soon as I reached the sort of promenade, I could see the flotilla of boats protecting the nuclear sub drift passed, and then the submarine itself which I was very excited about. Whether you agree with us having them or not they are an incredible feat of engineering.

The first sections today followed along roads and promenades, passing the ferry terminal for both Dunoon and Kilcreggan where I would be staying over the next few days. But I carried on up the river towards Glasgow. Unexpectedly I ended up on the beach around Whiteforeland Point but rejoined the promenade after heading up the slipway at the amateur boat club. Essentially the route continued in this way along roads and promenades passing Clydeport with its giant blue cranes, and a plethora of other industrial units around the various docks, pots and industrial parks for several miles.

At Newark Castle things changed when there was an actual footpath, that followed the shoreline and became a boardwalk for a while before when this finally petered out I headed onto the foreshore as it was low tide though had to stick to the very edge pebbly section as the mud was quite deep. There were lots of old wooden poles in the mud forming rectangular sort of penned in areas, it turns out these were historical timber ponds where the vast quantities of wood required to build the ships was stored. There was one little river that provided an obstacle but I was able to use the bricked areas at the front of the outlet tunnels to just about get across without having to take my boots off.

I rejoined the road at the point it became the M8, obviously I didn’t walk on the motorway but headed under it using the roundabout before taking a road up to Bishopton. I was getting quite hot and actually really hungry and Bishopton had a small but good shop so I got a few things for lunch and ate it on a bench in the shade outside the shop.

A short stretch of road bought me to the Erskine Bridge where I got my water filled up before crossing. This is an impressive bridge with incredible views down the Clyde. Getting of the bridge and finding the right route back down to the Loch was not entirely simple but I managed it fairly easily. Unfortunately I started to feel quite funny at this point quite suddenly, very lethargic and actually thinking I might be physically sick. I was not sure what triggered this (but strangely I think it may have been the water I got filled up at the shop) but sat down on a bench in the shade and had some water and a little snack.

After about 10 minutes the sick feeling went away but I was still a little lethargic but good enough to carry on. I followed a very clear and easy cycle route firstly along the loch and then on a tarmac path all the way to Dumbarton. Still feeling not a 100% and as it was already quite late, when I passed the Morrisons I headed into the café and sat down and actually had some dinner in there which was both cheap and hit the spot.

What I hadn’t been expecting when I walked out was for dark clouds to have arrived and I still had 4 miles to complete. Just as I rejoined the shore the heavens absolutely opened and I was not fully prepared so I just jumped under a tree against the trunk put my waterproof cover on the bag and my jacket on and sat there for a few minutes. I suddenly woke up having fallen asleep against the tree, I think I had only fallen asleep for about 10 minutes.

Fortunately, the rain had lightened and actually stopped only a few minutes later. I walked a short distance further but knew I wouldn’t make it to Cardross, and just pitched the tent literally by the edge of the path.

I was so happy to finally be in the tent, snuggled right up and fell asleep almost immediately.

A day that shouldn’t have been that difficult, not the longest, not the hottest, not the steepest, but boy oh boy did it take it out of me.

charles compton