Dumbarton to Balloch along the River Leven
With Covid 19 restrictions easing a little recently and living within easy cycling distance of Dumbarton I decided to visit Dumbarton, Levengrove Park, then follow the River Leven walkway/cycle-track upstream until it reaches Balloch and Loch Lomond.
The River Leven may be one of Scotland’s shortest rivers but it has plenty of interest along its few modest meandering miles. Due to being the sole outlet draining the 23 mile Loch Lomond it can be a fast river when in spate with very powerful currents. At other times, at full high tide when a short rapid section downstream in Dumbarton is submerged, it is open to small boats.
A lesser known fact of the area is that Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, and one of the greatest warriors of his era spent his last few summers and winters beside the river in a purpose built manor house near the modern village of Renton. This was his retirement home. He was dead by 54 of an illness but spent his last three years there, duck hunting, fishing, and maybe exploring the river and nearby Clyde Estuary. The house had a cut channel and small dock where you could moor a boat safely for the owner or visiting guests, yet in settled conditions it was possible to gain access to the river and areas beyond.
Levengrove Park is one of the sparkling gems of the area and a firm favourite with me with its flower displays that change with the seasons, its short grass meadows and wide open views across the River Clyde Estuary.
Another Fine Walk
Levengrove Park follows the coastline west along the Clyde, offering fine Renfrewshire views of rolling green hills, to the edge of Dumbarton’s outskirts. You return via a sports ground, under a railway tunnel and onto the main Helensburgh – Cardross – Dumbarton Road which has pavements.
Riverside parking is available in Dumbarton beside the main entrance to Levengrove Park and both walks/cycles start from there. Frequent buses and trains run from Glasgow, Balloch and Helensburgh.
A recent feature of all parks Scotland wide is the introduction of wild flower strips along some verges and borders with giant daisies, red poppies, cornflower and other varieties providing an often vivid splash of unexpected rich colour and Levengrove Park is no exception.
You can also visit nearby Dumbarton Castle and Castle Rock which is well worth while and good value for its modest admission price. The ascent path is steep and rocky but worth the effort as the views over the water from the summit are spectacular.
Bob Law, July, 2020
This section: Bob Law: photographer, walker and writer, Coronavirus, Walks
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