Be mine the hut,
That from the mountain side
Views wilds and swelling floods,
And hamlets brown, and dim discover’d spires,
And hears their simple bell, and marks o’er all
Eve’s dewy fingers draw
The gradual dusky veil.
THE high road from Glasgow to Dumbarton, along the north bank of the Clyde, presents to the traveler, an infinite variety of scenery, of the most beautiful description. When all around is “breathing of fresh fields, and summer skies,” every turn of the road displays some new, some lovely prospect, on which he feels he could gaze from morn till dewy eve, and never tire. “I had never seen before, and I have never seen since, any river, which, for natural beauty, can stand in competition with the Clyde. Never did stream glide more gracefully to the ocean through a fairer region.” Such is the opinion given, in speaking of this part of the Clyde, by a celebrated modern writer, who has traveled much, and beheld the beauties of distant regions, and of other lands, lighted up with sunnier skies than ours; and few who have traversed the vale of the Clyde, will be inclined to contradict it.
But, amidstthe various scenery of this portion of the river, lovely as it all is, there is one scene which powerfully arrests the beholder, and which, in grandeur and extent, far exceeds the rest – the view from Dalnotar Hill. On the western declivity of this hill, nearly ten miles from Glasgow, and before entering the village of old Kilpatrick, let the stranger pause. There leaving the high road, and turning a little way to the left, he may luxuriate on the scene spread out before him. The human eye can hardly any where contemplate, one of more surpassing beauty. The river, above this place, has just begun to expand, is now of considerable breadth, and farther down, is several miles across. On the north, the prospect is bounded by the Kilpatrick and other hills of Dumbartonshire; on the south, by the green hills of Renfrewshire; and the whole is closed far in the west, by the dark heathy mountains of Argyll. These fine ranges of hills, of various hues, and every shape, form together a magnificent amphitheatre, in the centre of which roll the waters of the majestic Clyde, like a lake of almost boundless expanse.
In all seasons, this scene is worthy of observation; but in a calm summer evening, ere the sun has dipped behind the dark curtain, formed in the western distance, by the mountains of Argyll, it is seen to most advantage. The sea stretches out far as the eye can reach, like a bright mirror of molten gold; its smooth surface bearing at intervals, vessels, whose white sails hang idly on the mast, waiting the expected breeze; or the self-impelled steam boats, advancing merrily onwards, their decks crowded with beauty, searchers for pleasure,and tourists wandering after the picturesque. The banks on either hand, are at intervals finely wooded, or covered with the produce of the husbandman’s labour. They are studded with the seats of noblemen and gentlemen, in some places nested amid the hills, in others, standing amidst trees, in the vallies below. Towns and villages, with their “dim discovered spires,” enliven the scene, and add to its richness and variety; while the various shores, sometimes project into headlands, and again recede into beautiful and sheltered bays.
Immediately in the foreground, is seen a part of the great canal, or Forth and Vlyde navigation, which, a little below, terminates in the Clyde, at Bowling Bay; a short way farther to the right, Dunglass Castle, an old ruin, rises almost from the water; and in the middle distance, Dumbarton Castle, the rock of ages, crowned with embattled walls and ancient recollections, frowns over the deep. To the left, is seen the beautiful pleasure grounds around Erskine House; and in the distance on this side, the hills above Port-Glasgow and Greenock, where these towns are dimly to be descried.