I’d paid a quick visit to the Erskine Bridge on the earlier Sunday and thought it could be doable, I’d been looking at various ideas for heading out for a day trip on the Voodoo and the Balloch one was one of the options I had looked at.
I studied then printed off all the map etc info I needed and planned the route I would take. These cycle path networks are a boon as the roads going to Lomondside are prone to mucho heavy traffic. The rukkie was pre packed and stowed next to the Voodoo. It was off for a good kip…
I filled the water bottles first thing and sat down with my usual pre cycle coffee. I guessed the main early traffic would have cleared and off I headed downhill, a great way to start. I took the lane/pavement which runs E to Langbank along the busy A8. I cycled through Langbank before joining the pavement/track which would take me to the bottom of the Hatton Brae where starts a long drawn out climb to just before Bishopton. The road was quiet but there were a few other cyclists out and about heading downhill. I took the road N from Bishopton, aptly named Ferry Road. I remember taking the old ferry at Erskine on more than a few occasions but the bridge which opened in 1971 now takes a constant flow of traffic N and S. I headed up the cycle track carefully avoiding all sorts of rubbish before stopping at the apex of the bridge for a quick drink and photo.
I turned west along a tarmac track which runs along the canal before I stopped to have a closer look at one of the many locks. I picked up a steady pace nodding to dog walkers and fellow cyclists. This canal stretch runs parallel to housing on the N bank, it was busy as I was overtaken by more than a few groups heading I guess to Balloch and beyond. I stopped in at Bowling Harbour and took a side track which took me to the Millenium Link seating area next to the blocked off canal entrance to the river. A quick look up and down river before setting off to cross another section of track. I soon passed by Milton skirting the main road past the whisky bonds, I asked if there were any free samples to a lad loading barrels on to a lorry, I’d rather not print the reply. The dedicated track soon ended but now is signposted through Dumbarton‘s lanes and back streets and as normal, Mhor must have missed a turn off so it on the main road over the River Leven before dropping down past Dalreoch station joining the cycle path which would take me northwards running along the river most of the way.
A cool breeze was in my face as I headed quickly through fields where I got nonchalantly ‘moo’ed’ at until the path took the old walkway along the Leven, the smell of freshly washed clothes soon hung in the air as I passed the new housing areas which have sprung up along the banks. Handy if you fished ! In the open areas, the willow-herb was starting to flower and occasional clumps of the pest Japanese Knotweed were taking control.
I stopped at one spot on the river I used to fish and remembered a sultry July night spent up to my chest with fish moving up the river, splashing and boiling not too far from me, did I catch? one wee ‘finnock’ (a sea-trout of approx 1lb) which got quickly slipped back in. I spent three years fishing this river and everybody else caught, me ?…nil but still a cracking river to fish the fly.
I stopped just above Bonhill Bridge and spoke with an angler casting out a long line with a quick strip to tighten the line then allowing the fly to work itself back to the near bank by the current. With each cast, he worked himself down the river covering more water and hopefully entice a waiting grilse. I asked the usual silly question and nope, no joy.
I knew I wasn’t far from the barrage which controls the flow on the river which in periods of drought keeps water flowing down to the sea, this keeps water levels steady. If I remember correctly, the biggest fish taken on this river was taken at the old pool under the bridge at Bonhill.
I carried on and soon reached the Barrage before exiting the marina area making my way to my target, the Maid of the Loch pier. I overtaken by three keen Segway users before I arrived at the wooden pier and the Maid herself.
The Ben seemed to have a cloud attached to its summit but the Maid is worth a visit. I took some photos and headed the reverse route.
I passed by where the river cruises leave and with the car park full of tour buses I swung south returning the same route. I soon reached Dumbarton and followed my wheel tracks and did a Mhor, again. I soon found out where I had gone wrong before meeting the dedicated cycle track again. I had promised myself a longer break at Bowling Harbour.
The seating area was busy but I soon sat down next to some carved animals whilst enjoying some water. I hadn’t eaten by this time but had promised I would stop somewhere before home.
I was soon heading up the path from Old KIlpatrick towards the bridge, a quick ascent and descent found me taking the road towards Georgetown passing Erskine. I had been along this road the previous weekend so it was a quick right and towards Bishopton. Bob’s tummy was crying out for food so it was the local hotel I headed into for a plate of tasty fish and chips washed down by a cold pint of cider. Excellently priced I may add and noted for the future.
It was off over the Formakin road where I stopped to look at the weather station which is the Met Office Glasgow Bishopton station then it was time to stretch my legs again to Houston then via Bridge of Weir, the cycle track then home…
Just slightly under 55 miles covered. It was by far my longest ride….I was still feeling good and still turning in the odd 5 min mile as I neared home.
Where next ?