Clyde Descent – Paddling ‘Doon the Watter’ with a Sugary Objective

A second paddle on the Clyde this year but unlike the previous time which was confined to the city centre, this one was to be a journey downstream from the centre to the town of Helensburgh, just under 40km to the west.

We started off at Glasgow Green just below the tidal weir and the upper limit of my last paddle here and then proceeded down underneath the concentration of bridges past my last starting point by the River Kelvin where it joins the Clyde. From here evidence of the Clyde’s ship building past, and to a lesser extent the present drew our attention. Current work includes the contributory work towards the UK’s next generation of aircraft carriers and destroyers. One large section of the former was sticking our of a hanger ready for loading on to and transport on a hugh barge to Rosyth Dockayrd for final assembly. We actually passed the barge being employed for the journey a short way downstream as it made its way up to the yard at Govan.

Carrying on we passed a couple of unexpected points of interest, first a snoozing fox then a bungee jumper from the Titan crane in Clydebank.

After just over three hours and 16km, we arrived at Erskine and had lunch on a ‘beach’ beneath the last of the bridges we’d paddle under.

What had started as a grey and drizzly day was now brightening nicely but with that was a strengthening breeze. Despite having the receding tide and river flow with us, the headwind effect was making progress harder and slower than we’d have liked for the remaining journey.

Next points of interest were the old oil depot workings at Bowling with Dunglass Castle set among the grounds and Dumbarton Rock and Castle. From Dumbarton we followed the general direction of the deep water channel and headed over to the south side of the river, firstly to see Newark Castle and the what is left of the shipyards in the Port Glasgow and Greenock areas and also to seek some shelter from the wind which was now quite strong.

We never actually did get close enough to the south shore to see much and as energy levels were now ebbing like the tide, we took the direct route to Helensburgh. In doing so we also missed out on the target for the day, the Sugar Boat. Oh well, it will be there next time. Overall a nice paddle with some nice surprises along the way but hard work.

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