The present-day Inverclyde plays an important role for exports due to its position on the Firth of Clyde, however the area also used to be a hive of import activity, by no means all of it legal. During the early 1700s duties were imposed on goods such as tobacco and whisky, a move which inevitably led to a temptation to engage in smuggling. The bay at Inverkip was a perfect spot for bringing goods ashore, which was how the village came to be a hotbed of smuggling. Almost everyone had a hand in the activity, even the local priests, and there was a constant game of cat and mouse with the customs officers who kept watch over the coast. Smuggled goods were hidden in cellars and in caves such as one near Inverkip which is still known as Smugglers Cave. Local characters implicated in these activities included milkmen Thomas Finnie and Robert Cochrane, who would hide whisky among the milk on their delivery carts. Another thing Inverkip was infamous for going back even further in time was witchcraft. During the 1600s the village was a centre of witchcraft and many women accused of witchcraft were burned at the stake there. Even a local landowner, Alexander Dunrod, was thought to be a practising warlock.
Since the transformation of Inverkip into a resort, thanks to the arrival of the railway, activity in the village has been confined to more legitimate pursuits, most notably at the Kip Marina, the oldest one on the Clyde. Nearby Ardgowan House with its 400 acre estate is still occupied by the Shaw Stewart family, who were responsible for the building of a much earlier castle during the time that the village was part of the Kingdom of Strathclyde. Inverkip lies in the Clyde Muirshiel RegionalPark, which includes Cornalees Bridge Visitor Centre offering glen and moorland walks and Lunderston Bay on the other side of the Ardgowan Estate, with a sandy beach and a picnic site.
Map of the area.
©2008 Thomas Nugent, via Wikimedia Commons