Dumbarton to Inveraray
Revel in the history of the ancient Kingdom of Strathclyde
Follow the route – Dumbarton to Inveraray
> Leave Dumbarton on the A814 through Cardross, Helensburgh, Rhu and Shandon.
Think of this residential town rising from the estuary of the River Clyde when you switch on your television. John Logie Baird, the television pioneer, was born here in 1888. Another inventive Helensburgh man was Henry Bell, whose Comet, launched in 1812, was the world’s first sea-going steamboat. Both men are commemorated in the town.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the most famous of Scotland’s 20th-century architects, completed Hill House in 1902. You may share the feelings of many visitors that the elegant interiors, showing Mackintosh’s amazing attention to detail, seem to become more rather than less modern as the decades pass by.
In summer, ferries sail across the Clyde from Helensburgh. There are sailing races, and dozens of yachts lie moored off Rhu – where the garden of Glenarn is an early-season attraction – and Shandon. After Shandon the road passes the Clyde Submarine Base, home port of Britain’s nuclear fleet.
Places to stay in Helensburgh
> Take the second exit from the roundabout on to the B872, then follow the A814 north to Arrochar and turn left on the A83. Ignore a left turn for the A815, bear left on an unclassified road through Cairndow, and rejoin the A83 for Inveraray.
Once the county town of Argyll, this gem of 18th-century architecture is reflected in the waters of Loch Fyne near Inveraray Castle, home of the 12th Duke of Argyll. The castle’s public rooms include an imposing armoury hall, a tapestry drawing room and a state dining room with elaborate plasterwork. In the grounds, Cherry Park once housed a Combined Operations Museum recalling how a quarter of a million troops were trained at Inveraray for seaborne landings of World War II. There are also pleasant woodland walks. If you are fit and sure-footed, try the steep climb through roe deer territory to the viewpoint summit of Dun na Cuaiche.
The town’s 20th-century bell tower acts as the Clan Campbell war memorial; and Inveraray Gaol is one of the finest theme museums in Scotland. In the courtroom, sitting among lifelike figures of lawyers and jurymen, you can hear the tape-recorded transcript of an actual trial held in 1850.