“Far on the bosom of the deep,
O’er these wild shelves my watch I keep;
A ruddy gem of changeful light,
Bound on the dusky brow of night!
The seaman bids my lustre hail,
And scorns to strike his timorous sail.”
THIS light house is situated nearly half way between Gourock and the village of Innerkip, and opposite to Dunoon. It is erected on a rocky headland, which, from the Frith here changing its course, and running south, instead of west as it does previous to reaching this place, was found to be an object peculiarly dangerous to the navigation of this part of the river during the night. Many a gallant barque has here met its doom, after braving the dangers of the mighty deep. The increasing commerce of the Clyde rendered the safeguard of a light-house imperatively necessary; but since its erection, only extreme carelessness, or some very untoward accident, can cause even fear of danger from the Cloch point.
On the brow of the rock and just above the beach, stands a lofty circular tower 80 feet high, on the top of which is the lantern containing the light, which has a star-like appearance and is known to mariners as a stationary light. Here, from sunset to sunrise, it sheds its cheering rays over the surrounding sea, warning of danger, and giving assurance of safety. From its height it is seen at a considerable distance down the Frith, now like a star, then gradually increasing in splendour as it is approached, till it presents a blaze of light to the vessels passing it. Long may it from its rock-bound seat, continue to spread its light around, guarding from otherwise unseen misfortunes the adventurous and hardy race of men for whose protection it was erected.
The Magistrates of Glasgow are commissioners for this light-house, as well as for that at the point of Toward, and another on the lesser Cumbray. They visit and inspect them yearly; and under their direction they have hitherto been carefully managed. Robert Stevenson, Esq. Civil Engineer, Edinburgh, Engineer to the commissioners for the northern lights, is also Engineer for the lights on the Clyde. He has lately made some important alterations on the lantern, and also in the manner of lighting at the Cloch; so that this light-house is now completed in all its parts upon the most approved principles. A new light room has been constructed, which is glazed with large plates of polished glass, instead of its former small panes with numerous astragals, by which the light was greatly obstructed. The light is produced by a great number of argand oil lamps, having each a parabolic reflector of silvered copper.
The Cloch point is the termination of the jurisdiction of the water baillie of Glasgow. This extensive jurisdiction comprehends the whole stretch of the river from the old bridge of Glasgow, to this point; and the baillie is competent to try all maritime questions occurring within that district. The procedure of this court is held in the burgh court rooms of Glasgow, every lawful day, as business may occur, and is conducted in writing under the superintendence of a legal assessor.
In the immediate neighbourhood of the Light house, there is a ferry across the Frith, which is here very much narrowed, to the opposite shore at Dunoon. This, previous to the introduction of steam boats, was the great point of communication with the west Highlands, and was therefore of much public benefit. Since the more convenient access, however, afforded by steam navigation, its importance is considerably lessened. But it is still often used, chiefly for the transporting of cattle from Cowal, and the neighbouring districts of Argyll.
As we proceed along the coast from Gourock to Innerkip, the Frith for a time becomes considerably narrowed; and the scenery, though beautifully varied, is more confined than farther up, except at the entrance of the lochs on the opposite shore. Nothing, however, can exceed its variety. Every step we take produces a change, as the coast along which we wander, now projects into rocky, or richly wooded headlands, and now recedes into deeply sheltered and beautiful bays. After turning the point at the Cloch, however, the scene is entirely altered; and the vast expanse of the Frith, with its extensive shores and islands bursts at once upon the view, presenting a scene of surpassing grandeur and magnificence. In the centre the distant ocean seems to merge in the horizon, and on either side the far extending shores are lost in dimness and obscurity.