Helen Rose’s Outdoor Diary: Inverkip
Inverkip is a village in the historic county of Renfrewshire in the west central lowlands of Scotland about 30 miles west of Glasgow at the Firth of Clyde. It takes its name from the River Kip and is served by Inverkip Railway Station. In 1170 Baldwin de Bigres, Sheriff of Lanark, granted a stretch of land to the monks of Paisley Abbey. This land was described as “The pennyland between the rivulets Kip and Daff”. Pennyland is an old Scots word of Norse origin which is used to describe a small piece of land, the rent for which is one penny per year. The area granted to the monks in 1170 equates to much of the north section of today’s village, from the bridge over the Daff on Main Street, near Inverkip Hotel to the old bridge over the River Kip at Bridgend Cottages. It extends to the coast at the old bridge at Kip Marina and probably as far inland as the railway line. The previous year, we had done this walk in the heavy rain – the better weather provided the opportunity to take photos.
We left the station and headed to the Kip Marina under a clear blue sky. Scotland’s Premier Marina has 600 protected pontoon berths, all facing the prevailing wind, available 24 hours a day seven days a week for vessels up to 24metres. .
There are palm trees skirting the marina and with the blue sky, it looked tropical! The vast majority of Scotland’s palm trees are on the nation’s southwest coast, both on and off the mainland. These leafy boys are able to grow because of the Gulf Stream, the strong ocean current shuttling water from the tip of Florida all the way to Europe.
We walked on a good path running alongside the water. There seemed to be a crowd of people walking dogs on the beach. It could well have been a canine walking club. The dogs were loving the freedom of running loose on the sand. We had views over the estuary to the Cowal Peninsula on the other side to Dunoon and Innellan. We were fortunate to have the clear views in the crisp weather.
We stopped for lunch at Lunderston Bay on the picnic benches and then went for coffee to the award winning Cardwell Garden Centre which is a family operated home and garden centre. Since the centre was established in 1962, it has developed into one of Scotland’s largest and finest retail destinations, with over 20 departments (including Edinburgh Woollen Mill) covering approximately 36,000 square metres/400,000 square feet. . This is Glasgow’s nearest sandy beach and is part of Muirshiel Country Park.
Scotland is known to have four seasons in one day and clouds began to blot out the sun. It felt chilly it was good to be inside the centre for coffee. It did stay dry all afternoon which is a bonus for walking in Scotland. As walkers, we are always prepared for the weather and as Billy Connolly, the comedian, says ’there is no such thing as bad weather, you are just wearing the wrong clothes!’
During the late 18th century and early 19th century, the village was noted for smuggling activities involving the illicit transfer of alcohol, tea and tobacco from vessels heading up the Firth of Clyde to the ports of Greenock and Port Glasgow. One well known case is that of Thomas Finnie, a local milkman, whose tale is recorded in the records of the Innerkip Society:
Early in the morning of the 22nd of December, 1809, about 6 am, Thomas Spence, Supervisor of Excise in Greenock, could have been seen – suitably armed with pistol – riding through the slush to Inverkip accompanied by two other officers. Almost exhausted and perishing with the cold after their unusual errand they spied Thomas Finnie’s milk cart. They lay in wait near the Daff burn and when Thomas had reached that point on his way to the “big house” with his morning delivery, the command to halt came from Spence. Mr Spence immediately searched the cart and in addition to the usual and necessary commodity of milk, he found three casks of Highland whisky containing in all 30 gallons. The horse, cart, milk and whisky and, of course, Thomas, were seized and taken in charge when, suddenly, Spence spotted Robert Cochrane some distance off. Cochrane was also searched and his cart was found to contain 50 gallons of Whisky. Both carts, their contents and their owners were marched on to Greenock Bridewell.
We walked inland and to the Ardgowan House Estate. Over the course of 800 years, Ardgowan Estate has evolved from a solitary watchtower to a modern Country Estate. There have been battles and witch hunts, Napoleonic adventures and Wartime bombings. Encounters with Robert the Bruce, Napoleon and Florence Nightingale are woven into the Estate’s colourful history. The house owner is Sir Ludovic Houston Shaw Stewart, 12th Baronet of Greenock and Blackhall. You can read the detailed history on Better still, visit it for a tour.
As we walked through the Ardgowan Estate, we came across a group of Alpacas with people leading them. The leader of the group advised us it was Alpaca walking which seems more tranquil than dog walking although Alpacas can be contrary at times and refuse to move – being part of the camel family. They were from West Coast Alpacas Walks . Walking an alpaca is in itself incredibly relaxing. The ‘alpaca pace’ is soothing to the soul and for the time you’re strolling, you really do forget your troubles, as the little bubble you’re in with your alpaca buddy, really is all you need right there and then. However, I have the same experience in the walking group we just chat a lot and take in the views! Alpacas were domesticated thousands of years ago. The Moche People of Northern Peru often used alpaca images in their art.
Coming attractions; The Dram Walk.
Happy New Year to all readers.
This section: Helen Rose Hillwalking Diary, Pat's Home Page Blog, Walks
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