Sunday, 26 February 2012
Dumbarton.The Mud Walk.An Unexpected New Experience.
On a beautiful sunny day walking along the Leven here downstream is a delight for the eyes.These little boats take a hammering during bad storms though as the Leven is one of Scotland,s fastest flowing rivers.It,s the only exit river draining mighty Loch Lomond into the sea so it carries huge volumes of water down its short length in wet weather.The Vikings managed to drag their long boats up it though and pillaged Loch Lomond,s communities and Islands gaining them access to a chunk of Scotland,s interior that had thought itself safe from sea raiders..Very determined boys the old Vikings when it came to bagging and bedding new lands and women.
large mature trees and open meadows.Usual story throughout the Central belt this year though with loads of mature trees here snapped in half or blown over.I hope such severe storms aren,t a sign of things to come each winter or wind turbines and man made trees might be the only structures left sticking up in the landscape.When you leave the car park the best route is to walk straight down beside the River getting good views of Dumbarton Castle and the great volcanic plug its built around. From the 5th Century onwards this was the power base of the ancient Kingdom of Strathclyde. The feared Alt Clut .Rock of the Clyde, known in later Gaelic as Dun Breatann."Fortress of the Britons" from which Dumbarton gets is name.As I,ve said before It has possible links to King Arthur and Merlin and there are a few folk who have explored this in some detail,Welsh surprisingly having been a language spoken here at that time in a sprawling kingdom that reached down that far. Its not impossible that he was a real person based in this area and later became the legendary figure adopted throughout Britain.Several regions lay claim to them both without much actual proof of existence.There is certainly no factual record of a "King" Arthur anywhere,be it here,Cornwall or Wales.But this detailed theory does suggest a possible ruler that fits the bill.Well worth a mouse click.
Another link to the remarkable and stunning blog by someone who really knows this stuff well enough to comment on it.For anyone who couldn,t give a toss about King Arthur and Merlin though and is only interested in a quick history of the castle this is also here below :)
Also took my sisters all Australian grandson up here when he was over on holiday a few years ago and he loved it too although as a teenager who has seen both The Lord of the Rings and 300 it was the imagined fighting, biting,stabbing and battles that inspired him with blood and bodies spurting and tumbling across the cliffs no doubt. Its around £5 pounds each adult to get in,£3 for kids and concessions and well worth while if you haven,t been and can explore it fully on foot.It is steep in places but the paths have guide wires on the hardest, most exposed sections.I used to rock climb occasionally here at Dumbarton Rock years ago on the gloomy and seriously intimidating north facing cliffs and could never get off the ground it was so desperate with a friction free natural polish.Some of the hardest rock climbs in Britain are here on these vertical and overhanging black walls.Its considered very bad form to belay off the cannons at the summit though no matter how tempting or how much trouble you are in.:)
I never got up that high but luckily there are some great traverse lines around the rock lower down and the famous giant boulders full of classic problem test routes to grunt and struggle your way up.
From the western end of Levengrove Park I limped off the path and straight onto the beach.There was a new housing development getting built beside the walkway and I didn't fancy walking beside reversing dumper trucks and guys hammering on the roofs anyway.
The tide was almost out and I walked across the wet mud straight towards the edge of the deep water channel I could just see in the distance in the middle of the Clyde.At first glance this walk looks as if it would be impossible to do.It doesn,t look like sand here. It looks like thick brown mud and as I know from my recent adventure on the opposite bank near here"The lower River Clyde" posted a few weeks ago that,s exactly what it is on that side.Deep, stinking and sticky.
Still ,God loves an ever willing heart and a bold approach to life.I limped off cautiously expecting to sink without trace at any moment. Near the shoreline you do tend to sink in a couple of inches,maybe too much for trainers to cope with but boots or wellies if you have kids with you should be fine.Further out what still looks like mud is actually firm sand underfoot with the mud just a very thin film on top.Not even reaching a quarter of an inch deep anywhere.The further out you go the better the actual sand gets.
According to Chris Packham on Winterwatch recently British Mud is some of the world,s best for the amount of tiny creatures living in it, feeding vast numbers of migrating birds who come to these Islands for an annual winter feast.
This was not the case however and even half crippled me was fast enough to make it.For this reason I would say this is a perfectly safe stunning walk even for children as long as the adults with them made sure they were not getting cut off from behind.The tide does not come in very fast here and if you use basic common sense and are always aware of an easy escape route back towards dry land you can have three or four amazing hours out here alone.Honest its easy.Would I lie to you ?
I ended the longest limp yet by continuing along to Cardross Station and getting the train back to Dalreoch and my car.One of the most unexpected and delightful walks I,ve done. I Still can,t quite believe its possible to walk so far out here yet its so easy.Forget those hard to reach beaches up north folks.I,ve been to desolate Sandwood bay and been disappointed by the number of cars trying to drive in along the worn and rutted access track then loads of summer tourists queueing up to see one of Scotland,s so called remotest beaches.Even in winter it has groups of visitors on it most weekends.Wilderness is all around us.
There was not another soul out here all day apart from bird life and cute little mud men.Probably because no one else was daft enough to think of exploring out here.God bless full strength codeine tablets and the power of positive thinking.Some locals must have been out here though...its just too good to miss.
"where a lone gull can walk on a sand bar a fearless human may follow."
Pillar Bank....Its out there man! Its also marked on the OS map sheet 63 Firth of Clyde.
Me too in a manner of speaking :) Alex is a driven man these days with his intended Corbett bagging quota for this year already worked out.Can,t blame him if he wants to finish them ahead of the coffin sneaking up behind him.
I, ll probably go along for the more exciting ones Like Rum,the West Coast and any other islands if I,m (hopefully) invited but I,m not as keen as him if its foul weather or a really dull lump somewhere just so it can be bagged on a list.Maybe those days when he,s out in the rain and wind I,ll try to finish my second round of Munro,s off or wander along the floor of the oceans instead.
"Where a starfish can shuffle a human may follow". These really are the most excellent tablets!
So much to do so little time.....