West Dunbartonshire hugs the southern shores of the famous Loch Lomond and towns such as Balloch make an ideal starting point for cruises and boat trips up the loch. The broad valley of the River Leven stretches from the loch right down to the River Clyde and is one of the best stretches of river in Scotland for salmon and sea trout. As the river joins the Clyde, the ancient town of Dumbarton perches on the banks.
Dumbarton the stronghold
Between the fifth and ninth centuries, Dumbarton was the seat of Alt Clud, a powerful Brythonic (British) kingdom that dominated much of southern Scotland until it was absorbed into the new Scottish kingdom around AD870. It became the seat of Scots kings until 1018, when Dunfermline became capital. In the 19th century, it was one of the world’s greatest shipbuilding centres, giving birth to iconic vessels including the clipper Cutty Sark and the steamer Sir Walter Scott, which still carries passengers on Loch Lomond. Dumbarton’s unmissable landmark is Dumbarton Rock, a superb natural stronghold. This 250-foot volcanic plug is a magnificent defensive site, visible from miles away. Long after it ceased to be a royal seat, it continued to be an important stronghold.