ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
During the recent run of four big storms coming off the Atlantic Ocean one after another, hitting the UK with power cuts, fallen trees, and flooding, the weather was mostly stormy, raining or lackluster in nature but a couple of perfect sunny days popped up occasionally and one of these occurred on a Sunday. Part of Bowling Harbour above.
I had to faff about doing stuff in the morning so it was after 10:00am by the time I was free. That ruled out the Kilpatricks car park which would have been busy by late morning so I travelled to here instead.... Bowling Harbour... and then on to Dumbarton.
Although I've been in Dumbarton many times before it struck me that I'd never walked around the coast to Cardross and that recent falls of snow from the storms would make the surrounding mountains stand out.
So far this winter there's been a real lack of snow at lower levels and the scenery has remained mostly green.
It started off easily enough with a good path I'd taken before and a pleasant two hour walk or cycle ride in its own right to either the Havoc Football Grounds where there is a minor road under the railway line or continuing on until the last houses in Dumbarton's western suburban edge where a flat then increasingly steep path through woods leads upwards to the last few streets in town. This stretch was familiar territory. The continuation along the coastline to the village of Cardross was not.
Langbank across the Firth of Clyde Estuary in Renfrewshire.
The last visible house/castle in Dumbarton. At this point the good broad path I was following turned into a faint narrow one and was exceedingly muddy and waterlogged by this time. Makeshift planks spanned the deeper puddles and boggy ground so even without the recent storms dumping fresh snow and rain on the landscape I'd imagine good boots or wellies would be required here year round.
From being an easy dry walk popular with other sightseers and local dog-walkers I was completely on my own past this point. The path narrowed down to a rabbit trail through thorn bushes then disappeared altogether. I was happy though as it felt more of a challenge now and the Firth of Clyde views, the bird life, and the coast itself had real charm.
A view across to Port Glasgow and the Ferguson Marine Shipyard.
A large circling bird too far away to identify properly and the snow draped mountains of Argyll situated in the upper reaches of the Firth of Clyde.
There was plenty of bird life around. Think this is a pochard. A distinctive brown headed duck.
Flock of Oystercatchers.
The seaside town and harbour port of Greenock in Inverclyde viewed across the water.
I'd imagine this walk would be much easier at low tide when you could walk on the mud flats or sand and avoid the rock strewn shoreline altogether but I was still enjoying it as it was so empty and wild feeling. Never met a soul.
Told you it was a lonely spot. 'Wilson' dressed as Santa from the Tom Hanks film Castaway found in a remote shoreline cave. I stopped for a chat... (as you apparently do with inanimate objects if you spend a long time alone)... but the intervening years had not been kind and had made him slightly bitter in his attitude.
"You're looking good." I informed him, "if a different shape."
" I'm pebble shaped now. You spend twenty two ******* years drifting in the world's ocean's chubby and you'll be a different ********* shape as well. That's why I eventually ended up here during the recent storms. Not so waterlogged any more. Streamlined. They could have easily saved me off that raft as well, took me on that big container ship, but Tom vetoed it. He always knew I was the better actor in every scene we did together back then. An up and coming talent! Me... quiet, dependable, loyal, calm demeanor, always upbeat. Him... all waving arms, sobbing, hysterical, depressed, ranting and raving, pouring out all his problems every night into my ears.A grown man! What was he- 12 years old or something!? Made me puke! Overacting big baby! You never saw me crying or loosing it once during that film. All the crew liked me... not him. I was not only more popular on that film set but the better actor all round. There was even talk of an Oscar nomination as I made that film far better than it could have been. Everyone knew that. Me!!! The real star!! I had my own trailer and labeled chair on set. People predicted great things for me. I could have gone on to have a long lasting and versatile career. TV shows, musicals, dancing and singing is my forte you know..., candid interviews with the biggest stars...It was all laid out for me when I got back to L.A. A sure thing! Ever seen me in another film since then? No!?"
I admitted I had not.
"Rolled off that tiller and floated away on the waves my ass! I was thrown off that raft on purpose when the crew weren't looking then left for dead. He carried a doppelganger coconut aboard that ship wrapped in a towel during that last rescue at sea shoot, pretending it was me. His best buddy and lovable co-star that he saved once more! The crew were devastated when they eventually found out the deception but by that time it was too late. I was gone! " He sighed, and a single tear ran down his cheek. "so I'm done with fickle humans and their tricky ways- Get your own cave Sonny. Beat it. **** off! I'll not warn you again."
So I did. A sad tale. Despite my offer of lasting friendship and a permanent home with me, safe and warm on a sunny windowsill in my kitchen he seemed resolute and determined to carry on alone, now that he had found land at last, after all these years drifting aimlessly at sea so I left the strange little figure to his fate. He was not really alone though as he had many, many friends among the world's sea birds and other aquatic creatures.... and their company suited him much better these days. I wished him well.
At this point the tide was still coming in fast... the faint path had disappeared altogether...and the going was slow underfoot, picking my way over rapidly disappearing boulders and seaweed.
More oystercatchers. I wondered how many years of isolation it would take, living alone on a desert island before a human would start talking to a volleyball as a trusted confidant and friend? (other types of ball to confide in are available.)
A rare spot of normal easy walking across a sandy beach. Note the train which I was intending to get back from Cardross. Still determined to make it.
Normal awkward walking service resumed with this stretch of angled slabs. Still managed to cross them though with the tide still rising up them as I did so. Railway line nearby.
Patch of snowdrops.
I then hit the biggest obstacle yet encountered and this one finally beat me. A full km or so of large boulders piled up as a sea embankment with the water lapping on one side and the metal perimeter fence and railway line directly above on the other higher edge. Ten years ago I'd have danced across a km of sloping boulders like this no bother but fast footwork, confidence in my overall balance and split second reflexes to react to surfaces tilted at all different angles with every new step taken are in the past. Not as easy as it looks in the photograph unless you are young and springy. I started off walking upright then soon moved to all fours for safety as deep holes and sharp hard edges hinted at a snapped leg or hip if I put a single foot wrong. Crawling for a full km was not a pleasant thought, even though I was relatively close to the station now so I reluctantly turned back for around a mile and found a tunnel cattle creep under the railway line then followed the main road on foot back to Dumbarton which luckily had a pavement all the way. At low tide Dumbarton to Cardross along the coastline would be much easier but I still enjoyed it.
A fun day out. Lang Craigs and Doughnut Hill above Dumbarton.
Concerned onlookers... "Which twin has the Tony.?" being an old hairdressers line.
and hopeful lunch guests....