WE are launching a new column in the outdoors pages of The Herald Magazine this week where walking and ramblers’ groups from across Scotland can suggest the best routes to enjoy from their areas and further afield. 

First up: Inverclyde Ramblers

Newark Castle to Finlaystone Burn

By John McIndoe & Thomas Jones, Inverclyde Ramblers

Start: Newark Castle, Port Glasgow

Distance: 5 miles/8 kilometres

Time: 2.5 to 3 hours

Terrain: Established tarmac path and concrete walkway with a short walk along the sandy beach to reach the burn.

Level: Suitable for almost everyone. A flat level walk along the coastal path – with no hills.

Access: Easily accessed by train or bus to Port Glasgow. If travelling by car follow the A8 and at Port Glasgow take the turn-off to Ferguson’s shipyard – follow the road past the yard gates to a large car park beside Newark Castle. Newark Castle is 15 minutes walk from Port Glasgow train station.

What makes it special: A castle, birdlife, a Taggart murder scene and sweeping views across the Clyde.

THE walk starts from the historic Newark Castle, the ancient home of the Maxwell family who sold the surrounding area to the merchants of Glasgow in 1668 to create a New Port for the sugar and tobacco trade. 

HeraldScotland: The route from Newark Castle to Finlaystone Burn in Inverclyde. Picture: Inverclyde RamblersThe route from Newark Castle to Finlaystone Burn in Inverclyde. Picture: Inverclyde Ramblers

The New Port of Glasgow is now Port Glasgow, which, along with Greenock, was once the world centre of shipbuilding. Newark Castle sits in the shadow of Ferguson’s shipyard where the Glen Sannox is being built – a controversial new hybrid fuel ferry. 

From all along the coastal path, hundreds of wooden stakes from the timber ponds can be seen in long rows standing in the river. 

The early ships were wooden, and timber was imported from Canada and Scandinavia and seasoned in the ponds prior to ship construction. The timber ponds were in use up to the start of the First World War when steel hulls replaced wood. 

The ponds were also the scene of a famous TV murder where the body of DCI Jardine was discovered in Taggart in 2002 – his final episode.

Route: Beginning from Newark Castle, it passes the picnic benches and heads upriver towards Glasgow on the clearly marked coastal path – it is impossible to get lost. 

Enjoy fabulous views across the River Clyde to Cardross, Dumbarton and the Gare Loch. There are numerous display boards at intervals along the path giving interesting historic information on the surrounding area. 

HeraldScotland: The route from Newark Castle to Finlaystone Burn in Inverclyde. Picture: Inverclyde RamblersThe route from Newark Castle to Finlaystone Burn in Inverclyde. Picture: Inverclyde Ramblers

Follow the path along the riverside past Woodhall, Kelburn Park, skirting the Parklea playing fields and the Port Glasgow Juniors FC stadium. 

Continue until the path ends and then walk for about 400 metres along the beach until you reach the Finlaystone Burn with views over to Dumbarton Rock and the Kilpatrick Hills. Retrace your steps back to Newark Castle.

Don’t miss: A wonderful welcome and hospitality at the community-based Parklea Branching Out plant nursery/cafe. This walk is great for bird watching – the mud flats exposed at low tide are an internationally important wildlife site.

The mud is a rich source of feeding and a resting stop for thousands of migrating birds including redshanks, dunlin, scaup and shelduck, which are visitors from Greenland and Northern Europe on route to Southern Europe or Africa.

Useful information: To view the current walks programme for Inverclyde Ramblers, visit: inverclyderamblers.org.uk/programme/

Non-members can just call the walk leader to book (details listed on each walk). Everyone can try out three introductory walks prior to joining, then annual membership is £36.60 for individuals or £49 for couples.

READ MORE: Polkemmet Country Park: Woodland walks, a rich history and that curious 'Teletubbies' horn

Families are welcome. Children under 18 can join a walk for free with their parent, grandparent or guardian.

Inverclyde Ramblers is part of Ramblers Scotland and Ramblers UK: Visit ramblers.org.uk/scotland

  • Do you have a walk you would like to suggest? Email susan.swarbrick@theherald.co.uk