A secret corner of Scotland…


Lady of the House achieved yet another birthday last week. Nothing unusual about that, and we usually go somewhere quite conventional for a nice meal…you know the kind of place….a country house hotel, a specialist Italian restaurant, the place where we first had a meal when courting, or have a meal in-house. But this year was different. However I’m getting ahead of myself……

You will already know of our great love of the County of Argyll in the west of Scotland. There is no question that within a travel distance of about 90 minutes from our house, some of the most dramatic and interesting scenery, along with travel-friendly roads, is available. We’ve travelled most of these roads before, but some were when the children were small (a not-inconsiderable time ago) or on business (when the minimum time required to transverse said roads was important)

Now that retirement is reached, and the weather is brilliant, time takes-on a new dimension. It is something to be enjoyed because of what it allows you to do, and permits seeing scenery with new eyes. A measure of how little I took in many of our previous experiences was the number of times Lady said we had been at a certain tea-room with the children, or stopped at a certain view-point for a picnic, but it had failed to make a lasting impression because of the haste with which such weekend visits were made. We now had more time just to enjoy doing things with no need to entertain others in the process.

We left Lenzie, and curved round the south end of Loch Lomond, past Duck Bay, over the A818 hill to Helensburgh. Once a thriving seaside/holiday town, the seafront shops have been blighted by the council up-rooting the main road so it is difficult to stop there…so we passed through without stopping, and all the small shops suffer!

Because of the deep water Gare Loch  in the lower reaches of the Clyde, there are military establishments in this area. The first is the Faslane Submarine Base where nuclear subs are serviced, opposed by the Faslane Peace Camp. The construction is spectacular and secretive, and therefore  photography near the base is not exactly encouraged! Travelling further north on the A814 we meet the township of, (not surprisingly) Garelochhead and turn southwards into a peninsula, one of the hidden gems of Scotland. with a lovely narrow road (B833) which hugs the coast, down to the area of Rosneath. It has an attractive centre and Church, and the views of the Gare Loch across to Greenock are spectacular.

We ate, on the advice of locals, at (perhaps, surprisingly) the local caravan site http://www.rosneathcastle.co.uk/. SAM_0311We are not caravaners by nature or practice, but the welcome at the bistro, the courtesy of the staff, the quality of the food and the walk we did round the impeccable site might have swayed us a little! We even had a mother duck and six little ducklings accompany us on our walk. The photo shows the lovely view from the Caravan site, across Gare Loch to Rhu and Helensburgh.

Heading clockwise through Kilcregan and Cove, (again with beautiful views) we came upon another great surprise. The houses here are built on a grand scale….many are colossal! Some take on the image of castles. Most of them were founded on the proceeds of the tobacco trade, at which Glasgow excelled. The owners were known as Tobacco Barons and fortunately the present owners seem able to keep the buildings in a good state of repair. It is difficult to drive safely around here as wonderful new sights are pointed-out as they appear round each corner.

Further north up this little road is RNAD Coulport, where nuclear warheads are stored in the Coulport Roundabout - geograph.org.uk - 160841.jpghillside, and docking is provided for visiting submarines. All a bit spine-chilling, especially as you are in this idyllic setting. The photo shows the roundabout at the gates. In order to transport this rather strange cargo from the midst of the country-side, a brand-new road was built to the centres of population, and luckily there were suitable stopping-places provided to view the vistas.

There is a debate about what would happen to both Coulport and Faslane bases (with repercussions on the employment of the indigenous population) should Scotland demand, and be given, independence.

Our trip ended by returning through west Dunbartonshire’s Gartocharn, Croftamie and Dumgoyne. Any enquiry via Google will show all of these places to be delightful villages. We are SO lucky, to have all this on our doorstep!

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