Dumbarton, founded in the fifth century, was the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Strathclyde, although the town's strategic importance dates from the Iron Age when Dumbarton Castle was built on a plug of volcanic rock known as Dumbarton Rock. The castle has the longest recorded history of any fortification in Britain. Nowadays, the mainly 18th century fortifications are accessible by pathways and steps up the Rock, which offers wonderful views of the Firth of Clyde. Dumbarton is mainly a commuter town for Glasgow, but once upon a time it had a trio of thriving industries: shipbuilding, whisky and glassmaking. These are now gone, but there is a reminder of the shipbuilding industry in the Scottish Maritime Museum, which gives pride of place to Denny's Ship Model Experiment Tank, Denny being the founder of William Denny and Brothers, a Victorian shipbuilding company.
Down on the foreshore there are redshanks, shelduck and buntings, while a launching ramp is the only reminder of a wartime flying-boat factory which once stood here. Overlooking the town is Overtoun House, built in 1862, which as well as being an impressive building in its own right, lies in grounds offering wildlife, gardens and picnic areas. The House has accommodation and a tea room and bills itself as a "Centre for Hope and Healing". Dumbarton has a prominent Football Club dating from 1872, which regained its place in Divison One in 2012. Another claim to fame for the town is that it was the birthplace of musician David Byrne of Talking Heads, who was born there in 1952. One of the main events in Dumbarton's calendar is the annual Royal Scottish Pipe Band Championships. Dumbarton offers easy access to the only-just-landlocked Loch Lomond, which is reached by a short 5-mile drive along the A82.
Map of the area.
© 2007 Thomas Nugent, via Wikimedia Commons