As I live on the banks of the River Clyde where it meets the Gare Loch, the sights and sounds of the river are very familiar to me. I was very excited then when I heard about a walk being organised to one of the navigation towers near the Erskine Bridge. You can imagine my disappointment when I was told that it wasn’t suitable for coos. I was scunnered, but reluctantly agreed to let Kylie Collie go instead and report back. Here’s her story:
Being an outdoor dog, I love long walks, mud baths and exploring new places, so this assignment was right up my street! 7.30 on a September Sunday morning, I was picked up by Wee Rab and his Mum for a short drive to the Mar Hall hotel at Bishopton, where we were meeting the rest of the group.
We all gathered in a car park near to the hotel and were given a very warm welcome by event organiser. Once all 30 of us were there, we headed off through the Big Wood towards the banks of the Clyde. Through the woods and down the steep slope we went, across a golf course, then a sharp right following the sign which read rather ominously “River Clyde”.
Our first challenge was picking our way through the Devilish Divots. We had been warned about these, but to me a divot is a small hole made by a golf club. How wrong I was. These were deep holes which lay hidden in the long grass looking for all the world like solid ground. We heard a scream and one of the leaders disappeared. Very soon after that I was swallowed up by one along with my new friend Nugget, the Jack Russell. How we laughed, as did all the others as they got caught out one by one. Luckily there were no injuries, but I could easily understand why Morag wasn’t allowed to come. It would have been far too dangerous for her.
We eventually made it through and stood on the edge of the mud flats left by low tide. We could see the towers stretching out downstream and the rocks of Dumbarton in the background, so off we went again. Four feet were a definite advantage as people kept losing their boots in the Sucky Mud. Boots with laces proved a better choice than Wellingtons. Bear this in mind if you plan to follow in our footsteps – and you should, really.
It was slow going, but at last we were there. We had done it. We had boldly gone where few had gone before. We stood in the middle of the Clyde staring up at this huge stone tower topped with a green metal cap. The causeway on which it stood stretched off into the distance towards Greenock and the Clyde Estuary with more towers at regular intervals. it felt very strange to be standing on the river bed in the middle of the mighty Clyde.
The towers are like icebergs: you normally only see top one-third pokimg its green head above water. Why green? Because these are Starboard Towers and starboard is always green. Wee Rab’s Mum taught me how to remember: Is there any red port wine left? So, red is port and left; green is starboard and right. (I’ve also learned that this is where we get the word “posh” from. Rich people going to India used to ask for cabins out of the sun: Port Out, Starboard Home and these were the most expensive.)
We were originally going to go to Tower One, but Tower Two looked more interesting and offered a much shorter and easier walk back to shore. Some carried on and walked as far as Tower Six, but we had had our fun, done what we had planned to do and were happy to return with heads amd tails held high with pride. I still cannot believe I’ve done it!
If you want to go yourself, you do have to take sensible precautions. We were a large group so had the lifeboat on speed-dial and two-way radios to communicate with our emergency support on land, and research had been carried out into the tides for that day.
From the car park follow the path through the woods and down to the hard path through the golf course. Follow the path and once you leave the golf course do not be tempted to follow the river sign to the right unless uou want to have fun in the divots! Instead go straight ahead and follow the track and get as close to the shoreline as you can. There is a gate through a field which will take you down to the shoreline and to the closest point to the tower.
PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU CHECK THE TIDE TIMETABLE. From the shoreline to the tower and back again can be done easily within 1 hour.
For more information about the towers and the walk on which our adventure was based, please read this account from Blue Sky Scotland
A huge thank you to my friends Helen Anderson, Gail Burton and Sharon Harrison Braddick for looking after Kylie and for allowing me to use their photographs