ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREENI've not quite given up the idea of writing books just yet and have started my third one so this is both an account of an unusual walk across the floor of the Clyde Estuary at Dumbarton and also a plug for my new photo littered guidebook A Guide to Walking and Cycling around the River Clyde and the Firth of Clyde. The sunken Sugar Boat from Roseneath Point. I have left out the usual small maps common in most guidebooks and just used inspiring photos and detailed descriptions of routes instead as the maps require a lot of effort and space when you should always have the relevant OS Map with you anyway. In this case it is Sheet 63 Firth of Clyde. Due to this omission I have over 80 routes described instead of the usual 20 to 30. Therefore, it is probably the most comprehensive guide to walks and cycle rides around the River Clyde and the Firth of Clyde as I threw the kitchen sink at it in terms of number of enjoyable walks and easy bike runs.
ANGRY FACEIt is hard with so many guidebooks and free online routes out there already to come up with something different or new but fortunately I have been different my entire life so it shouldn't be a problem for me :o) I have included the Pillar Bank walk in the book but it is always a fine line between revealing new, lesser known walks or cycles and the very real possibility of them gaining popularity to such an extent that they ruin the very thing that made them special in the first place. The only photos I could find on the internet of anyone ever being out onto Pillar Bank were my own so I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing. Obviously, local folk must have ventured out here for generations and just haven't talked about it online before but I've still got some reservations as the few times I've been out here there hasn't been a single soul in sight on the sands and part of me would like to keep it that way for my own personal pilgrimage to these areas. I was so disappointed with Knoydart the last time I was there as it was heaving with people and seemed to have lost its "Last Great Wilderness" tag a long time ago. So different from my first visit there and the original guide book writers description of the place. Any social media site these days is a double edged sword as it gives you a voice but you have to give a piece of yourself away every time to make any impact and I don't really like doing that. I have deliberately left a few short but treasured places out the book as they are far too valuable to me or are sensitive to more visitors impacting on them and would get ruined easily as anything that gets posted online now becomes common knowledge and is liable to get replicated elsewhere. There should still be some secret places left in the world.
When you walk over this landscape at first your initial impulse is that you are just going to sink up to your waist in mud but apart from a few deep pockets it is perfectly safe as firm sand lies under a thin surface coating of sticky mud. Boots are required. I have only found evidence of quicksand in a few places around the mouth of the River Leven but these are obvious danger areas anyway to any seasoned mud skipper and the rest of it seems perfectly safe.
I set off on my own from Dumbarton as I was researching this walk for the guidebook and had never been over the track inland from Dalmoak to Cardross which looked as if it might have good views.
The beautiful ornamental gardens at Levengrove Park, Dumbarton and the start of the walk.
No doubt the roaming mermaids, as sweet daughters of Phorcys, would find me half buried in the sand and suck out then swallow down my eyes as they are a delicacy in these parts much savoured by sea creatures. Similar to dying or dead sheep's eyes are for hooded crows on land and packed with vitamin C. I don't know about you but I've always fancied being inside a mermaid.... one way or another. Think of the secrets you could find with them as a guide under the waves. I already knew the area could be walked on as I came out here on the mud with a companion, briefly, 30 years ago so it's strange, to my mind at least, that it's still so empty of people. I hope I haven't let the cat out the bag for the bird life on the estuary but as I say, to get noticed you have to swing on a wrecking ball at some point.
creating a Mud trail on a bike.To save time on the jump over from Dalmoak to Cardross I'd taken my bike for the farm tracks but it didn't prove so helpful out on the mud flats and time in the saddle was limited. It felt good though racing across the flats and jumping pools on the edge of the ocean a full mile out from the land on a bike.( smooth tyres on a hybrid as mountain bike chunky tyres would not work here) Anyone who knows me well has always maintained I,m slightly mad at the best of times and they are probably correct. Even I think I'm mad at times but you should see my world from the inside looking out. That's really scary.
Approaching Levengrove Park across the mud flats. A beautiful sunny day and not another person in sight yet the park was busy and very hot and airless, it being mid summer. Maybe they are scared of mud and dirty boots these days as the estuary had a nice refreshing breeze wafting down it.?
" Not everyone would want to do a walk like this one anyway so go ahead and publish it before some other person beats you to it and then you will kick yourself for not putting it out first." I have never seen this enjoyable and unique walk in any another guidebook but I don't read any current guide books anyway these days and just did a basic check online before posting so I may be wrong about that. I am prepared to stand corrected... yet again :o)
The lovely but derelict shell of Cardross Church. I think this was bombed during the Second World War and has never been restored although the graveyard is lovely. Brambles are a problem here.
I dedicate this post to my "DID." muse in the last chapter of my novel "Autohighography" by Bob Law. also available on kindle. The last chapter seems to baffle people slightly judging by feedback, hence this extra clue...but who exactly is it?
" I am legion... for we are many." quote- unquote.