Gare Loch

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Gare Loch, a branch of the Firth of Clyde, projects into Dumbartonshire between the parishes of Roseneath and Row, running elf almost due N from the upper waters of the Firth. The part of the Firth of Clyde lying between a line drawn from Roseneath. Point to Helensburgh, and one from Roseneath to Row Point, is not properly included in the Gare Loch, though frequently spoken of as forming part of it. This external portion is at first about 1½ mile wide, but contracts to tolerably rapidly to a breadth of 41 furlongs, just before it expands again into a rude circle, of which Roseneath Bay forms one hemisphere. At the entrance to the Gare Loch proper the breadth of the passage is only 1 furlong. The total length of the external portion is 2 miles. The Gare Loch proper extends for 41 miles in a northnorth-westerly direction between the parishes of Roseneath on the W and Row on the E, to within 1¼ mile of Loch Long. For nearly its entire length it keeps an average breadth of 7 furlongs, but about 61 from its head it suddenly contracts to 3 furlongs, which breadth it retains to the northern extremity. Immediately before this contraction Farlane Bay, on the E side, increases the breadth temporarily to nearly 7½ furlongs. The only other noteworthy bay is Stroul Bay, immediately to the NW of the narrow entrance to the loch. The shores of the Gare Loch are low and shingly, and, with the exception of Row Point, have no projections of importance. Carnban Point is the name given to a blunt angle just N of Shandon on the Row side. The tidal current is strong, and runs at the rate of 3 to 4 miles an hour, while off Row Point especially it is forced in varying directions. The depth in mid-channel varies from 10 to 30 fathoms.

The basin of the Gare Loch is a narrow and shallow cup among the Dumbartonshire hills. AIong the Roseneath or W side the loch is flanked partly by- the wellwooded and undulating grounds of Roseneath Castle, but chiefly by a softly outlined chain of moorland hills, that nowhere rises to a greater height than 651 feet. On the Row or eastern side a narrow belt of low-lying or gently-sloping ground intervenes between the beach and a chain of rounded summits, that culminates nearly midway between Helensburgh and Garelochhead at a height of 1183 feet. Around the N end of the Gare Loch, and between the flanking ranges of hills, runs a semicircular connecting link in the shape of a heathy saddle, 256 feet high, over which tower the lofty containing mountains of Loch Long. The water-basin thus limited is not wider than from 2½ to 4 miles, so that the streams which fall into the Gare Loch, though numerous, are small, the longest having a course of only 2¾ miles. The scenery on the Gare Loch, though by no means grand, is pic. turesque ; the outlook from its mouth towards Ardmore and Erskine, and the view of the lofty Argyllshire hills over its northern end, especially so. The climate of the valley of the Gare Loch is mild in winter and spring, but it tends to become sultry and relaxing in summer. The rainfall is large and the wind, though not frequent nor strong, is gusty and as squalls coming down the valleys between the hills are not infrequent, the navigation of the loch is somewhat dangerous for small sailing boats. For large vessels, however, the Gare Loch affords an excellent anchorage, with good shelter; and the measured miles on which the speed and strength of new Clyde-built steamers are usually tested and their compasses adjusted is plied in the Gare Loch. The training-ship Cumberland, in which boys are educated as seamen, is permanently stationed off Row. The various villages on the Gare Loch are favourite summer residences for sea-bathers and others ; and several steamers maintain communication between them and Glasgow, Greenock, Helensburgh, etc. On the Row side of the Gare Loch are situated, to the S, the outlying portions of Helensburgh, and the villages of Row, Shandon, and Garelochhead; while the intervals between these are studded with mansions, villas, and ornate cottages, for the most part the country quarters of the rich merchants of Glasgow and its neighbourhood. Among the best known of these is the mansion of West Shandon, now largely added to and occupied as a hydropathic establishment. On the opposite shore are the piers of Mambeg, Rachane, Clynder, and Roseneath, similarly separated from each other by private residences, though a great part of the coast lies within the policies of Roseneath Castle, the. property, of the Duke of Argyll &emdash; Ord. Sur., shs. 37, 38, 30, 1866-76.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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