Daily Archives: June 14, 2022

Bonny, bonny banks

We loved our parkup at Dumbarton Castle, but we don’t want to get stuck in one place so soon. And we’re ready to venture further afield. We set our sights on Loch Lomond, and it sounded like an expedition until we checked Google maps. Five miles. Five. Miles. My goodness, we are pathetic. At this rate we won’t see much of Britain before our bones turn to dust.

We skipped the busy tourist area at the southern end of the loch, especially since it was Jubilee week and we assumed it might be crowded, despite the lack of official events in this “non-Royalist” region. It was a four day holiday after all, and families were out for a long weekend of fun.

We parked up right on the shore of the loch. There are many of these little car parks, one after the other, that can accommodate anywhere from five to ten vehicles. We passed a few sites and chose one that was further off the busy road, with nice flat spaces and a wide beach. We had the joint all to ourselves for a while, but later in the day more and more people arrived.

We parked in the corner again, now our preferred spot, so that at least on one side we can see and appreciate the scenery when we’re inside. A family pitched a couple of tents on the beach in front of us, but it was still a lovely spot, with a pretty path along the shoreline to explore. We can’t believe our luck in finding spot after spot to enjoy this beautiful country. It’s like moving from anchorage to anchorage on the boat. We’re comfy in our own home, but with an everchanging view. It’s just what we envisioned. We stayed two nights.

I saw on our parkup app that just a little north of us there is a larger car park that not only allows overnight parking, but also has toilets, a gray water and toilet dump, and a fresh water tap. We don’t really need those yet, but we’ve been advised to take advantage when you see them. We knew it would be more crowded, but we’re keen to experience that too, and besides, it’s still free, with a donation box onsite for the services.

We’re the little van inbetween the bigger motor homes, right behind the rubbish bin.

Once again we chose a level spot beside a small grassy area so on one side at least we have some space. The lot was quite busy as you’d expect on a holiday weekend, with day use people as well as motor homes. It’s the dock for Loch boats and ferries and tour buses came and went all day too. We actually enjoyed all the activity.

On Sunday while Jack sat in the sun, I watched the men’s tennis final at Roland Garros, streaming Channel 9 in Australia via a VPN logged in at Perth. It’s a source I’ve used for tennis for a couple of years no matter where we are. We found it more challenging to watch Formula 1. Most recently we VPN’d to Luxembourg to get the stream, but the commentary is in Luxembourgish, so we do BBC radio for the audio, which is of course out of sync. It’s better than nothing though.

Monday morning we walked up the road to a food kiosk for breakfast rolls. Our glorious weather continues, much to the surprise of the locals.

As we prepared to move on, Jack emptied the toilet cassette and checked out the fresh water tap. That’s when he discovered that the water hose we have is missing the proper fitting and we can’t fill our tank. We’re in the middle of a national park with no large shops anywhere nearby. Luckily our tank isn’t empty, but we’ll need to find either a new hose or the proper fitting before long.


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A castle in the sky

Flush with the success of our first two parkups we decided to venture further and start driving north. This required retracing our steps back through the traditional boatbuilding center of Port Glasgow and across the bridge over the Clyde.

Along the northern riverbank is a 240 foot high volcanic basalt plug called Dumbarton Rock that has served as a fortress since at least the 5th century. Our parkup app told us we could spend the night at the base of the Rock. That sounds good to us.

We turned toward the river and inched our way down a residential street and past a construction site before we spied the rock. We both leaned forward to peer upward through the windscreen, seeking the top. Holy cow! There, almost in the clouds, we could see the battlements of the stronghold perched so close to the edge it almost seemed cantilevered.

Our pitch for the night was directly beneath the sheer cliff wall. We quickly locked up the camper and headed toward the entrance. There was extensive fencing which became more dense the closer we came to the entrance. It gave us that sinking feeling.

Sure enough, closed again for masonry inspection. This one hurts. Joiners were chiseling a mortise into massive timbers right on the other side of the fence where intricate scaffolding reached up to the sky.

We walked along the river for a better view of the fortress.

We had a quiet cozy night, all the while wishing we could get inside the castle, and especially climb the rock to see the view from the top.

The next morning I glimpsed a man with large pads strapped to his back disappear around the back of the rock.

“I think they must do rock climbing here,” I said to Jack, and we jumped out of the camper and tried to follow where the man went. That lead us past a football club, through the woods and around the land side, all the way to the river on the other side, giving us a few more tantalizing peeks at the fortification at the top.

We found a couple of men bouldering, then a man and his father with their dogs, just shooting the breeze enjoying the view on a beautiful day. We stopped to chat, got a few tips on places to go, and they told us there was a break in the fence at the riverfront where we could see the castle better. They also said there were a few women climbing further around the rock.

The women told us this was the place for climbing and bouldering in the Glasgow area, and that on most days we’d see many more people there on the various walls.

We asked about the Queen’s Jubilee and if there were any events planned nearby. They looked at each other and shrugged.

“We’re not really royalists here in Scotland,” one of them said. Fair enough.

The path around the rock came to an end at the water’s edge, passable only at low tide, and we retraced our steps back to the parkup.

We found the break in the fence the father and son told us about (how had we missed it?) and finally got a better perspective on the castle and the fortress. It made us want to explore it even more, but I guess our record of closed castles will remain unbroken for now. You can read the history of the place here.

We walked into town to a place called Bangin’ Pizza for takeout and all the employees threw out their favorite places for us to visit. We’re acquiring quite the list of destinations to add to our already numerous Google Maps flags.

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