Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Damp Walk Up The Lang Crags

It was a dull and cloudy Sunday afternoon but we decided to head out anyway and take a walk up in the Overtoun Estate above the town of Dumbarton. I lived in Dumbarton for about 12 years and never managed to visit the estate before now so it seemed like it needed ticked off the list once and for all. The estate was bequeathed to the people of Dumbarton by Douglas White, a London doctor, in 1939 and is now open to the public for general wandering around and rambling.

Overtoun HouseOvertoun House

We parked the car at the bottom of the estate's West Drive and walked up the hill towards the main part of the estate. We could have parked beside the house itslef but we were out for a bit of a walk so that seemed a wee bit like cheating. However, after plodding all the way up to the crags and back and it being so wet underfoot, I wish we'd done just that.

At the heart of the estate is Overtoun House, now a Christian centre and unfortunately not open to the public other than it has a wee tea-room open during the Summer but only on a Saturday. The house was built for wealthy Glasgow industrialist James White in 1860 as a family retreat from the grime and factories of Glasgow. It was an ideal location, having wonderful views out over the Firth of Clyde and the Kilpatrick Hills, and yet being within easy reach of his business in Glasgow. White was once one of Glasgow's most prominent citizens, well-known for his philanthropic works across the city and surrounding area so it must have rubbed off onto his descendant Douglas when he gave the place to the people.

Close to the house is the fifty foot high Overtoun Bridge, built in 1895 and which crosses the Overtoun Burn and leads on to the West Drive and down into Dumbarton. The bridge attained a level of mystery a few years ago when it was reported that a number of dogs had apparently commited suicide by leaping to their deaths from it. A bit of digging by some reporters unearthed the grim fact that about 50 dogs had killed themselves in this way here since the 1950s. Maybe the dogs are supersensitive to atmospheric conditions in the area, maybe the topography is just confusing for them or maybe the place is haunted; no-one knows why they do it! All that aside, it's a very pleasant, if somewhat neglected looking bridge.

Dumbuck hill to Dumbarton RockDumbuck hill to Dumbarton Rock

Towering above the estate are the Lang Crags, a line of rugged cliffs that overlook the lands and skirt the summit of Brown Hill. The cliffs are possibly named after the Lang family that once owned the estate back in the 18th century but it could just as easily mean "long" as they are quite ... long. The walk up the the crags is reasonably gentle, if a little long and boggy. The path follows the course of the Overtoun Burn and then turns uphill onto the hill from where you can wander out along the edge of the crags where the view out over Dumbarton and Firth of Clyde are amazing. You can also see all the way up to Loch Lomond and the hills beyond although it was pretty cloudy so we didn't get a great view of those.

A Slideshow of Images Taken At Overtoun

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