The Greenock Cut: cutting through my misconceptions about greenock
I have no idea why, but somewhere along the line, I was given the impression, by someone (and I blame the father of my Youngest Spawn, who hails from Gourock) that the area along the Clyde coast ain't really all that. Graeme denies ever saying anything of the kind however; he maintains he's been a proud Inverclyde boy all his days, and so he should be, because the coastal region that Glaswegians flocked to for generations, known affectionately as "doon the watter" is actually really beautiful. With sandy beaches, jewel-like islands, and rugged mountains, it's like a little Scotland-in-miniature. And, unbelievably I had never seen a seal in my whole life until I saw one in Lunderston Bay, near Inverkip, back when I first met Graeme. Unfortunately it is true that Greenock town centre is marked by deprivation and unemployment above the national average after its industries were annihilated by the cruelty of the Thatcher experiment, which still impacts today. However against this backdrop, the Greenock Cut provides a beautiful juxtaposition to the contiguous urban sprawl of the Gourock-Greenock-Port Glasgow area, and an area of outstanding natural beauty for residents of the area to escape to.
The first time Graeme ever showed me the Greenock Cut, we were met with this incredible sunset, which he airily informed me was pretty par-for-the-course for that part of the coast!
That was 5 years ago and in winter; this Babble walk here took place on a sunny afternoon in the autumn of last year but while the temperatures were still pleasant.
The Greenock Cut walk is 11.5km circular length, however strictly speaking the Cut only refers to a 6.5km long aqueduct built in the 19th century to carry water from Loch Thom reservoir to the various industries in Greenock, as well as supplying drinking water to the town. Now the aqueduct is no longer in use, a Heritage Lottery Funded restoration and access improvement project created an almost completely horizontal path along its length. Along the route are the ruins of bothies where the workers who maintained the aqueduct stayed, and the Cornaless Visitor Centre has a superb interactive exhibition displaying the history of the Greenock Cut and environs. The remaining 5km of the circular trail after the Cut itself takes in wild moorland and affords what The Guardian describes as "some of the best views in Southern Scotland". Along the way, you will pass no less than 23 beautiful, historic stone bridges and travel through Shiehall Glen, which encompasses the first half of the Cornaless Nature Trail. The Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park website has an excellent wildlife almanac which can be assessed by the clicking the link here.
The WalkHighlands page for this walk gives details of parking, public transport links and walk statistics however the 2.3-3 hours is completely unrealistic if you have younger legs needing rest stops: it is a long walk and the kids felt it; the time was doubled to almost 6 hours! A huge thanks to Chelsea and her two fantastic kids, Charlie and Eva, for coming along and doing so well!