Dumbarton Rock, west Dunbartonshire, Scotland

Last week when we were in Dumbarton, where I grew up and Jack was born, we had a wee walk through the town centre, which like most has seen far better days. Inevitably there were empty shops, but they have tried to jolly things up by covering the shop fronts with these gorgeous photographs of ‘The Rock’. In fact I took the photo on my blog header from the top of this very historic rock which is a volcanic plug. Because of its strategic position at the confluence of two rivers – the Clyde and the Leven – it has been used as a fort and stronghold, and was even used by the army in WW1 and WW2. There’s a tradition (accordng to the author Rosemary Sutcliff) that the Romans had a naval station here and they called it Theodosia, which I believe means given by the gods.

Dumbarton  Rock, west Dunbartonshire, Scotland

Whenever I see this place in the distance I always feel that I’m home. I don’t know who took these photos but they are very good I think, probably the first one was taken by a drone.

Dumbarton  Rock, west Dunbartonshire, Scotland

Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire, West Scotland

Below is a stitch of a couple of photos that I took of Loch Lomond from the wooden pier at the wee village of Luss last Wednesday morning. You can see more images of Luss here. I didn’t take any photos of the houses as there were so many parked cars in the streets. The village was built by a Colquhoun to house the workers at his nearby slate quarry.

Loch Lomond, Ben Lomond panorama

The snow covered mountain that can just be seen to the left centre of the photo below is Ben Lomond, which is a ‘Munro’ meaning it’s over 3,000 feet high. It must be the most climbed mountain in Scotland, it’s an easy one to get up although as ever, if you aren’t wearing decent footwear and you aren’t properly clothed it can still be dangerous as the weather can change very quickly. I believe that some years ago a 12 year old German boy died of hypothermia on Ben Lomond, in July!

Loch Lomond, Luss, Dunbartonshire, Scotland

Loch Lomond is an idyllic place but in the summer months it can be very busy with tourists as it’s such a short distance from Glasgow, this area is often called Glasgow’s playground. When I was growing up I was lucky enough to live within a few miles of the loch so it was an easy walk in good weather anyway. But this part of Scotland is still incredibly well served with local transport links – buses and trains are very frequent. I took this completely for granted as a youngster and only realised how unusual it was when I moved away and discovered that some towns only have one bus a week – and to nowhere that you would want to go – what a shock that was!
Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire, Scotland

There are a lot of small islands dotted around the loch. In the summer visitors are sometimes tempted to swim out to them, probably not realising that they are further away than they thought – not all of them make it there!

Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire, Scotland

Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire, Scotland

One of the islands – Inchconnachan – is home to a population of wallabies, you can read about them here. They were introduced there in the 1940s and are controversial now as they are a non-native species and apparently are a threat to the native capercaillies.

Loch Lomond panorama, Scotland

Christmas lights 2018

It’s the second of January but some of my neighbours have taken down their Christmas decorations already. Mind you those are the people who put up their decorations in mid November! I did manage to take some photos of the lights in a few of the places we visited pre-Christmas, below are the street lights in Dumbarton, the small town that I grew up in.

Dumbarton HighStreet

I must say that I was really impressd with the town’s efforts. I actually think that they’re the best ones I’ve seen for a long time. I’m fed up with just bright white lights that so many places seem to have opted for, the yellow and red fairly cheered the place up.

Christmas lights, Dumbarton Hight Street

Tha lights of the “Artizan’ area (which by the way is NOT where the old Artizan was) aren’t quite so nice I think, but they’re better than nothing I suppose.

Christmas lights, Dumbarton

The permanent lights that enhance the old stone bridge below are atmospheric.

Dumbarton old bridge, Scotland

You can get an idea of what it looks like in daylight from the photo below.

Swans in River Leven, Dumbarton

In Glasgow George Square is the focus for the Christmas activities, in my young day that used to mean a nativity scene, but nowadays they plonk a fun fair on it. It was ‘sear your eye balls’ bright this year (2018).

Christmas lights,George Square, Glasgow

West George Street in the Merchant City area was the place to go if you were looking for something a bit more elegant. The church doorway was flanked by two Christmas trees, it looked pretty in the distance anyway. The church (St George’s Tron) is actually in Nelson Mandela Place though, the first street named after him – long before he was released from prison.

Christmas lights, Glasgow

And so went another year – in a flash!

Dumbarton and the River Clyde

Back at Dumbarton Castle again, and you get some lovely views from there, below is the River Clyde, looking over to its south bank.

River Clyde

And below looking over to Langbank on the other side of the river from Dumbarton. Obviously I took these photos at low tide, but when the Queen Elizabeth II was launched at Clydebank just a few miles down the Clyde this is exactly where I stood to watch her sail past. I was still at primary school and the whole school walked there to see her and wave at the captain.
River Clyde

If you look to the left in the photo below you should just be able to see the Erskine Bridge in the distance.
River Clyde

The photos below were also taken from Dumbarton Castle Rock although this time looking inland. As you can see there’s a lot of house building going on at the moment. The land around there was the Sunderland aircraft factory during World War 2 I believe, so it was a busy place.
Dumbarton Crags
The photo below is of the area just to the right of the photo above, of Dumbuie and Dumbuck which used to be a huge mountainous rock but sadly when I was about seven they started to quarry it and now there’s hardly anything left, it’s like a big hollowed out tooth. I still mourn for what was the original Dumbuck. I hate quarries.
Dumbuie, Crags

When I was about 13 they started building new houses on farmland which was exactly where I used to walk to get to the top of the hills. I couldn’t believe it and feared that eventually there would be no hills left to walk on at all, but they must have decided that the area was too steep for housing, which it is. I noticed that the houses that are being built now near the Clyde have about a dozen stairs up to the front door. I’m not surprised as being so close to the river they’re in danger of flooding. Rather them than me! Dumbarton was a nice town to grow up in, where I lived anyway, on the edge of town but like many places it has sadly deteriorated, the scenery is still good though.
a pano from castle

Dumbarton from the Air

Have you been on to the new site Britain from Above? I just had to go on to see what the town I grew up in looked like in the aerial photos. The houses in the top left hand of the photo below were new builds in 1939 when the photo was taken and I was brought up in one of them, albeit in the 1960s, by that time more houses had been built along to the right hand of those ones and the road behind them was bigger, in fact it’s now a dual carriageway to Glasgow.

Dumbarton east from the air.

I had to cross that road to get to the hills which are beyond the photo, and in the summertime that was where I could be found, it was the days when we were all running wild and climbing trees as kids, in the fashion of children in Enid Blyton books, we had such freedom compared with the poor kids of today.

If you want to see more photos of the Dumbarton, Loch Lomond area and even photos of the Queen Mary on the River Clyde have a look here. The very first photo is of the castle rock which is at the left hand side of my header and the town is just beyond it. Loch Lomond is an easy walk on a good day, but the best walk is the one up the hills towards Overtoun House, sadly there don’t seem to be any photos of the house though. I could spend hours looking at this site.

The Bells of Dumbarton by Lucy Lincoln Montgomery

I bought the above book from a well known auction site the other day and it arrived this morning. It was published by (ahem) The Religious Tract Society and it says under the title – A New England Story. I think it was published around about 1890-1900. It also has the title Lee Chester.

I collect postcards and old prints of the town of Dumbarton because I was brought up there from the age of 5. The photograph on the left hand side (west) of my header is of Dumbarton Castle/Rock. So when I saw this book for sale I thought I might as well buy it, thinking that it would be something to do with Dumbarton Oaks in the US – but it isn’t.

Chapter II begins:
Dumbarton lay amid the hills, the principal part of the town nestling in a broad valley around which rose undulating slopes, growing still higher in the distance, till far away they rose to mountains, bounding the township with a granite barrier. It had taken its name from that old city on the Clyde, whence a large number had come in early colonial times to find in this new land ‘freedom to worship God,’ and had bestowed upon the little settlement they founded the name of their birthplace.

I haven’t been able to find any mention of a town in America with the name of Dumbarton, only Dumbarton House in Washington, so I’m wondering if it is purely fictional or if there is such a place in New England.

Has anybody heard of Lucy Lincoln Montgomery? Obviously it’s a Scottish name so maybe she or her family originally came from Dumbarton. I discovered that she wrote a few books and possibly a poem about a little quaker girl who sewed a tuck in her dress, but I can’t find out anything about LLM herself.

Can anybody help?

Dumbarton Castle

Dumbarton Rock and Castle

Dumbarton Rock and Castle

If, in your travels you find yourself to be going just a wee bit north of Glasgow, then you should definitely find time to break your journey at Dumbarton Castle.

The name Dumbarton derives from Dun Breatann meaning fortress of the Britons. The rock on which the castle stands is a volcanic plug which is situated at the confluence of the rivers Clyde and Leven. To me it has always been a magical place and I can just feel the history oozing out of the stone. However if actual castles are your thing then you might be a bit disappointed as there isn’t really much in the way of castle, it is definitely mainly rock, albeit it in a very strategic position. Apparently The Rock is the oldest known continuously recorded stronghold in Great Britain, having been occupied since AD 460, at least.

It’s the perfect place to stretch your legs – and I really do mean that as there are supposed to be 365 steps to be climbed before you reach the top. It’s worth it however as the view from the top is just great.

I think the castle has been pretty much neglected over the years as a tourist destination and I know that there is talk of making it more high profile. When you think of all the history behind it, it certainly deserves to be made more of. There is a small museum which mainly has things to do with the old Dumbarton Volunteers Regiment but there just isn’t enough room to do the place justice. I know that there are things scattered around Dumbarton in various places like the library for instance, which should really be shown off properly with everything being in one location and a purpose built building near the castle would be great but I don’t suppose there is the money for it at the moment.

Another view, Ben Lomond in background

Another view, Ben Lomond in background

When we went over to the Greenock side of the Clyde recently, it was the view of the Dumbarton Rock which I really wanted to go for as most of the paintings, engravings and postcards have been done from that angle. Dumbarton has an elephant as its emblem and the story goes that it is because the rock is shaped like an elephant, which I had never believed. So I was pretty surprised to discover that it really does resemble an elephant when viewed from a particular part of the road near Langbank.

Unfortunately we couldn’t stop the car then, so you will just have to take my word for it.

Even if your legs won’t stand the strain of all those steps, it’s worthwhile going just to have a look at the river and the surrounding hills, which can be viewed from the small park at the bottom of The Rock. Imagine what it was like to stand there and see the QE2 go past when she was launched just up the river at Clydebank. Those were the days.

Dumbarton Castle

In celebration of Dumbarton Football Club being promoted to the Second Division, I thought I would photograph some of my collection of prints and postcards of Dumbarton.

Pictures and postcards of Dumbarton Rock etc.

Pictures and postcards of Dumbarton Rock etc.

Note the mediaeval instrument of torture on the left. (Only joking; but it is a Lochgelly tawse [strap or belt] used for generations in Scotland to punish pupils who misbehaved in school. The practice was only abolished 25 years or so ago.)

The Rock was a big part of my life, although I didn’t realise that until I moved away from Dumbarton and suddenly I didn’t have the wonderful west coast scenery as a backdrop any more.

More pictures of Dumbarton Rock

More pictures of Dumbarton Rock

When I was a wee girl I played at the bottom of the castle and the model of James Watt’s first steam engine was our climbing frame. I believe that it has been in various different positions in the town but I think it now lives at the Denny Ship Museum.

Old colour print of Dumbarton, plus Dumbartonshire Rifle Volunteers' badge.

Old colour print of Dumbarton, plus Dumbartonshire Rifle Volunteers' badge.

More postcards, prints or photos of Dumbarton.

More postcards, prints or photos of Dumbarton.

I have also lived at various locations around Britain. The last 20 years or so I have lived very close to the North Sea and believe me you have to be hardy to put up with that. It’s beyond me why anyone would want a sea view, especially when it is mainly grey sea and grey sky accompanied by a wind which usually feels like it has shards of glass in it, which cut right through your bones.

But – each to their own – and there are people in the Kirkcaldy area who can’t stand not being close to the sea. I suppose for them it’s like the hills of home.

Anyway, my Dumbarton collection cheers me up and I bet that there are plenty of people living there who can hardly believe that.

Division 2 here we come. It has really cheered up my husband Jack, my personal Son of the Rock, who has been a supporter of The Sons, as they are nicknamed, since before I knew him. In the daft days of my teenage years, I was even mad enough to go to Boghead with him.
Thirty-five years on from then, I spend my time visiting the Castle when he manages to see a home game.