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Annals of Garelochside
Chapter III - Description of Parish; Kilmahew and Killiter; Ardmore Promontory

THE lands of Cardross parish have, with one or two exceptions, frequently changed hands during the past century. Commencing at Kirkmichael Stirling, beside the town of Helensburgh, it would seem that in 1610 it was sold by the successors of John Wood of GeiIston to Walter Dennistoun of Colgrain, in whose family it remained till the end of last century, when it was purchased by Sir James Colquhoun of Luss. Kirkmichael was, in 1825, once more united to Colgrain estate, in excambion for Iands in Glenfruin. A small portion of the property, known as Drumfork, was feued in 1748 by John Dennistoun of Colgrain to his son-in-law, John Stevenson, who built a mansion-house there. Adjoining are the lands of Colgrain, which, with Meikle and Little Camis Eskan, belonged to the Dennistouns before 1377, but which were sold, as we have seen, in 1836. It was purchased by Colin Campbell, third son of John Campbell of Morreston, in Lanarkshire, who claimed kindred with the house of Breadalbane. Keppoch, the next estate, was in 1545 the property of Stirling of Glorat, and in the following century passed into the hands of the Ewings, and remained in their family till 1820, when it was bought by a banker in Greenock, Alexander Dunlop, one of whose ancestors was the famous counsellor of William of Orange, Principal Carstares. Ike built the present mansion-house, but after holding the estate for about thirty years, it was again sold by Mr. Dunlop to the late Mr. James Donaldson of Keppoch. A few years ago the estate was sold to its present proprietor, Alexander Crum Ewing of Strathieven, who has continuously resided there and done much to improve the property. The two Ardardans succeed; Ardardan Lyle (or Wester) was in 1466 owned by John Lyle of the family of Lord Lyle. In 1537 his successor conveyed it to James Noble of Ferme, in whose family it continued till 1708, when it was sold to James Donald of Lyleston. Ardardan-Noble, or Mid-Ardardan, was the property of Noble of Ferme about the year 1500, and remained, along with Ardmore, in the family till 1798, when William Noble sold both these properties to his brother-in-law, General Thomas Geils, whose younger son, Major Edward Geils, succeeded and built the house on the point of Ardmore. Ballimenocb, previous to 1630, was owned by Macaulay of Ardencaple, and then was sold to William Noble, whose grandson sold it to the Trustees of Mrs. Moore's Mortification. Blairhennechan or Drumhead, as it is now called, formed part of the estate of Macaulay of Ardencaple in the sixteenth century. In 1530, owing to the marriage of a daughter of that house to William Buchanan of Boturich, it passed to that family, in whose possession it has remained. The male line of the family terminated with Archibald Buchanan, and the estate passed to his sister, Janet, who had married Robert Dunlop, of the Garrikirk family, and by deed of entail the proprietor is obliged to assume the name of Buchanan of Drumhead.

We now come to Nether Ardardan and Geilston, the latter of which was acquired in the sixteenth century by John Wood, and since then was owned by Bontine of Milndovan, Buchanan of Little Tullichewan, and Donald of Lyleston. In 1803 it was bought by General Thomas Geils, in whose family it remains. Milndovan, part of the estate of John Wood of Geilston, after being possessed by Bontine of Ardoch, became part of Drumhead property. Next we come to the fine estate of Kilmahew, long possessed by an eminent family, the Napiers, who seem to have owned the lands from the close of the thirteenth century down to the year 1820, when William Napier, resident in America, made up titles to Kilmahew and Wallacetown, as heir of his uncle, and conveyed them to Alexander Sharp, brother of the husband of his sister Elizabeth. The Kilmahew estate was acquired in 1839 by James Burns. Ardoch estate comes next, stretching along the shores of the Clyde; it was long possessed by the Bontines, and about the close of last century was disposed of by Nicol Bontine to his cousin, Robert Graham of Gartmore, whose descendant, the well known ex-member of Parliament, and champion of the working-classes, now owns the property. The adjoining lands of Dalquhurn, Ardochbeg, Pillanflatt, and Kipperminshoch, according to Irving, were likely embraced within the bounds of the royal park laid out by King Robert the Bruce in connection with his residence at Castlehill, and they continued to be royal property until the time of King James V. Dalquhurn was conveyed, in the fourteenth century, by Malcolm, Earl of Lennox, to his seneschal, Walter Spruell, in whose family it remained until it was sold by James Spruell to his son-in-law, John Dennistoun. Afterwards it was bought by Thomas Fleming, and purchased from his son in 1692 by Sir James Smollett of Bonhill. Kipperminshoch for two centuries was owned by Woods of Geilston, afterwards by Noble of Ardardan, Edmonstone of Duntreath, and latterly by Barton Aiken. Succoth was held in the sixteenth century by a cadet of the family of Ardoch, from whom it passed in 1616 to Robert Campbell, whose family became eminent on the Scottish bench in the persons of Lord President Campbell, and his son, Lord Succoth. It is now the property of James Aiken of Dalmoak, which estate was long possessed by the Sempills of Fulwood, latterly by Graham of Gartmore and Dixon of Levengrove. Mr. Aiken is the principal partner in the legal firm of Burns, Aiken & Co., founded by William Burns, author of the Scottish liar of Independence, a learned work pervaded by an enthusiastic spirit of patriotism. Rosruvan and Pillanflatt at one time were Church properties, and passed into possession of the Lindsays of Bonhill, on the breaking up of whose estates in 1666, the lands became part of the lands of Smollett of Bonhill. The estate of Kirkton of Cardross, on which is the site of the old parish church, belonged in 1528 to John Smollett, burgess of Dunbarton, and in 1654 the estate passed into the hands of Bontine of Ardoch. The old property of Ferry-lands is in the extreme east of the parish, close to the river Leven, and upon it is built the suburb of West Bridgend. In 1512 the property was conveyed by Robert Ferrier to Andrew Dennistoun of the Colgrain family, and it subsequently was laid out for feuing purposes. Levengrove was acquired from Richard Dennistoun of Kelvingrove by John Dixon, Provost of Dunbarton.

On a fine summer day the walk from Dunbarton across the fine bridge over the Leven down to Cardross is interesting, and affords many views of the Clyde scenery. Ascending from the Vale of Leven, on the right hand there is the round mound, covered with old trees, which is undoubtedly the site of Cardross Castle, where King Robert the Bruce spent his closing years. No trace of any building is to be seen, and the name of the farm, Castlehill, is all that remains to support the tradition that once the hero lived in this spot. About a mile from this we pass the site of the ancient house of Ardoch —or, as it used to be written, Airdoch—the dwelling-place of the Bunteins. The castle was succeeded by a tall, bare-looking structure, which stood empty for a number of years, until it was occupied as a velvet factory. The road now makes a descent, until it is but little above the shore level, and presently the old mill and the houses near Cardross Church come into sight. There is little in its present aspect to remind the visitor of the hamlet which, in the last century, occupied the vicinity of Cardross Church. The meal mill, called Cardross Mill, used to stand further up from the present structure, built by Robert Ferrier in 1818, and still in the family. The smith's shop was near the church, and the neat cottage, in which the venerable Alexander Ewing now resides, used to be a shoemaker's shop. On the opposite side of the road is the small house known as Bainfield, once possessed, with the land attached, by a family of that name, whose ancestors purchased it from the Napiers of Kilmahew. Part of it is old, and used to be occupied as a ferry-house by Robert Barr, whose family have long been connected with the parish. The old houses which, in Mr. Ewving's early days, he recollected near the church, have mostly been pulled down, and a succession of modern ornate villas now constitutes the village of Cardross. One of them, a two-storey building called Seafield, stood near the old bridge, and a family of \rapiers resided in it, one of whom was afterwards the wife of Robert Napier of Shandon.

Beyond the church the end of Auchenfroe glen and burn of the same name is reached, and the road crosses the stream by the bridge erected, as before mentioned, by the grateful Mrs. Moore. Though over 200 years old, the bridge is in excellent preservation, but the introduction of a modern iron railing over the archway, in the parapet wall, somewhat takes away from its antiquity. On the north wall can be read the inscription—"Not we but God—Jean Watson, 1688," and alongside is another stone with the date 1690, and a shield with quarterings; the motto on the lower part being obliterated. On entering the small gate, and proceeding up the glen some old trees are noticeable and the rocky sides are picturesquely covered with ferns and creeping plants. Above the side of the glen Bloom-hill House is seen through the trees, finely situated, and of handsome architectural proportions.

Proceeding up the glen under the old trees which clothe both sides, the policies of Kilmahew are traversed for some time before the large and imposing residence is reached, which was commenced in 1865, and finished in 1868 by Mr. Burris. The house, beautifully embowered amidst trees, from its topmost storey enjoys an extensive prospect over the Clyde estuary, and is beside the brawling burn, which is spanned by Mrs. Moore's bridge. It stands on the estate of Milndovan, which was part of the old Ardoch Bontine property, sold by Graham of Gartmore to the granduncle of Mr. Burns, Thomas Yuill of Darleith, by him to Buchanan Dunlop, who disposed of it to James Burns. There was a small residence on the adjoining field, known as the Triangle of Milndovan, of which a few old stones may be seen below Kilmahew, bearing the inscriptions—R.B.M.B. 1738 on one stone, and on the other only the date 1732, that are understood to have come from that old house. The first two initials were those of Robert Bontein, and the latter those of his wife. Near this was the small croft known as Ladeside, probably from the mill lade, which can still be traced for a long way on that side of the glen.

The chief interest in Kilmahew lies in the semi-ruinous castle, which is situated near the upper end of the glen, with a few old trees, and the site of a large orchard in its vicinity. There is little of architectural interest in the lofty pile, which presents a solid square appearance, its walls being about one hundred feet in height. , Probably it was erected about the period of Oliver Cromwell, and it may have given shelter to some of his adherents in the troubled times of Scottish history. On all sides the walls and windows have been closed up and it is thickly overgrown with ivy on the south wall. Owing to the strange idea of Mr. Sharp, who, for a brief term after 1820 owned the estate, and who thought of making the old castle habitable, it was a good deal altered externally. He knocked out several new windows in the ancient walls, affixed a wooden balustrade on the south wall, and partially built a new entrance, flanked with niches for columns on the south-west angle of the wall. The general outline of the castle measures 46 by 25 feet, and it was altered from being a four storey to a three storeyed building. The broad lintel over the door at the north-west angle bore the motto, "The peace of God be herein." Some of the corbels left are large and shapely, and there are smaller ones in good preservation. The staircase near the doorway probably was carried up, and the passage along the west wall would give access to the kitchen and cellars. Towards the end of the last century the castle was burnt, when it is likely that the upper part of the battlements was much destroyed.

On the high ground above Kilmahew, on Walton Moor, in the middle of a small plantation there is a curious monolith standing erect upon a rocky foundation, which may possibly be an ancient tomb, as there were some smaller stones like the sides of an old cist found at the foot of the monolith. Those interested, also, in boulder stones will find a good specimen about five and a half feet in height, and a little less in width, right in the middle of the stream of the Wallace-town glen, which joins the Kilmahew glen a little below the mansion house. A great deal of its surface is white quartz, and obviously it has been deposited by ice in its present position long centuries ago. A much smaller boulder with well' defined ice marks upon its surface is in the grounds close to the mansion.

From Kilmahew a wide prospect is gained of the Killiter range of hills, the highest in the parish, and it is a pleasant walk to the top of the principal peak, going past the mansion-house of Darleith. Leaving the Helensburgh road beside the Geilston burn, the tourist sees on his left many umbrageous trees surrounding the house of the Geils family, with the waters of the burn rustling unseen below. The road is a plain country track, leading across the moor to the upper part of the Vale of Leven. On the right is passed that burying-place, known as the Kirkton of Kilmahew, to which allusion has already been made. A few trees throw their sheltering shade over the fragment of the chapel, which still stands in excellent preservation, the roof and door being in good order. On gaining admission through the iron gate of the enclosure, a few moss-grown old tombstones can be seen, slabs lying on the ground, one of date 1735, and two others to members of the family of Buchanan of Drumhead, whose estate is adjacent. On one of these can be made out: "Archibald Buchanan of Drumhead, died 26th May, 1189," and the other is that of "Dorothy Buchanan, who died 21st July, 1780." The rippling stream below gives appropriate music to this retired and peaceful resting place of the dead.

Proceeding along the Balloch road, the woods around Darleith house are now entered, and passing by a small sheet of water, and along the avenue, bordered by ancient trees, the dwelling-place of the Yuills is reached. Around it are grassy parks, with some lofty trees scattered over the turf. The burn winds its course through the grounds, with masses of ivy in some parts overspreading its rocky banks, and overhanging canopy of ferns, while little rills of water trickle down the mossy rocks. Through the leafy vista of trees glimpses are gained of the dark, purple, heathery slopes of the hills. In those verdant glades are some noble specimens of the beech, the ash, and the oak, which long have flourished in this beautiful spot. Darleith house is partly modern, but the original fortalice stands between a former addition and the later one in front, and tall, solid stacks of chimneys dominate the whole. In the north gable is a stone, with the arms of Darleith of Darleith, the initials J. D., and the date 1616, while on the eastern side of the tower are the letters I. Z., A. F., 1676, representing John Yuille, the first of Darleith, and Agnes Fisher his wife. On the west side are the family arms of the Yuills, with the date 1678, and the motto,

[The old mode of spelling the name of the estate was Darlieth.]

Leaving the farm-road near Darleith, and striking across the grassy and bracken clad stretch of intervening ground, the steep side of Killiter is gained. Ascending the heather brae, it takes not much time to reach the summit, and from it will be enjoyed an extensive panoramic view. Looking over to the Clyde, the most prominent features are the towns of Port Glasgow, Greenock, and Gourock, with their chimneys, factories, and shipyards, from which, on a still day, there comes the iron resonance of an army of labourers. The trees and cultivated grounds are further down the river, with the varied outline of Bute and the Cumbraes, and afar off the mountains of Arran. Between Bute and the purple ridges of Arran a gleam of sea is seen, and the different lines of the upper reaches of the Cum-braes and adjoining land come into view. Patches of sunshine, here and there, lighten up the masses of trees and moorlands blending into the Renfrewshire hill country. The spires and church towers of the villages and towns on the opposite shore catch the sunbeams, and, if it is an autumn day, there is a misty exhalation from the land which gives a hazy aspect to the landscape. On the near shore the hill of Dumbuck, and the Kilpatrick braes crested with trees, stand in relief against the sky, and the strong, solid mass of Dunbarton rock, of a dusky green colour dominates the river. Nearer to Car-dross the fields show alternate layers of green and yellow, with white farm houses and red tiled cottages embowered in trees painted with the tints of autumn.

Looking towards the Gareloch, there juts out into the Clyde the rounded point of Rosneath, well clad with woods, and the brow of the peninsula, defined against the higher Cowal mountains of Argyllshire. The Holy Loch, and the many mansions and garden-fringed villas all down that shore, are partly enveloped in haze. Mingling their swelling outlines are seen in the distance the Loch Long and Gareloch mountains, and glancing down the latter loch, the eye rests upon the straight streets and verdant surroundings of the Helensburgh villas, with the broad grassy slopes conducting to sequestered Glenfruin. Ardmore point from this view loses the long promontory look which it has from the shores of the Clyde, and has an ample rounded surface, diversified with many old trees. The summit of Killiter itself is a comparatively level mass of mantling heather, with turf march dykes crossing its surface ; on the one side the hill sloping steeply down to Darleith, and declining on a more easy descent towards the Camis Eskan moors. The eye can follow the farm road past Darleith on to the high ground above the Vale of Leven, which is generally overhung with a dark canopy of smoke from the manufactories which have added so much wealth to that once beautiful valley.

Turning to the north the spectator sees the lower end of Loch Lomond, with its richly wooded banks, sleeping in peaceful beauty, its waters reflecting the sinuous strand. Ben Lomond itself, and other less lofty peaks, are prominent against the northern sky, their seamed sides in deep shade and clad in purple panoply of heather. Round by the Endrick Valley, and towards the distant hills of Campsie and Stirling, there is a variegated and smiling country, cultivated fields, yellow in the sunshine, green plantations, and plenished farm-yards, with the curious cone of Duncroin in relief against the pasture and corn lands. Alternate stretches of light and shade vary the landscape, while many a dark ravine and shady hollow introduce another and a pleasing feature to the picture. Quietly rippling away amidst green meadows, and by briar-scented hedges, are many glancing burns, whose streamlets swell the rivers and lochs, but from the vantage ground on which he stands the spectator hears no sound of cascade or rush of water. The twitter of a stray swallow, the guttural tok tok of a grouse, the quick note of a stonechat, or the `tiny hum of a Iaden bee languishing amid the flowery sweets, may perchance lightly fall upon the ear, along with the far off clangour of the CIyde building yards. \Vhen there are so many visible features of interest for the visitor he may perchance indulge in thoughts taking him back into reminiscences varied and stirring, for in this district were enacted scenes which have left deep traces on our Scottish history.

Returning to the public road from Dunbarton to Helensburgh, an inspection may be made of the modern village of Cardross, and what remains of the older hamlet of a past century. One or two of the older houses are seen beyond the Parish Church, and others in the vicinity of the Geilston burn and mansion, but there is nothing of special interest to be noted. A conspicuous feature amongst the modern villas is the Free Church, which edifice is due to the liberality of the family of Burns of Kilmahew. A number of years ago the "Cardross case" caused great stir throughout Scottish ecclesiastical circles, for it appeared as though the cherished immunity of the Free Church from civil jurisdiction was to receive a rude and awakening shock. A notable minister, the Rev. Robert Boag Watson, LL.D., since December 1879, has officiated in this charge, one whose career has been interesting and honourable. When the Crimean War broke out in 1854 Dr. Watson was ordained chaplain to the Highland brigade, and he endured many of the terrible hardships incident to those who took part in that historic struggle. As chaplain to the troops in India also, Dr. Watson was an eye-witness of some of the dreadful atrocities of the Indian Mutiny, when the fabric of British power in India was shaken to its base. Subsequently, in 1864, he was nominated to the post of chaplain to the Free Church in Madeira, where he remained for ten years, and his services were highly esteemed. Dr. Watson, in addition to eminent gifts as a Christian minister, is a scholar and a scientist, and when the Challenger Exploring Expedition was despatched, he was one of the staff, his special duty being to prepare the official report on the Mollusca discovered.

Mention has already been made of Drumhead, long in possession of the Buchanan family, and the grey mansion house stands a little to the north of Geilston, not far from the small Kirkton burying-ground. The older portion of the house is to the back, and, from an inscription on the gable, seems to have been built in 1700. Geilston house is of much more recent date, but has an attractive and antiquated appearance from the old trees which surround it. For a considerable distance in front of Geilston, the public road is overshadowed by a fine avenue of trees, from which glimpses of the shining firth, with the numerous steamers passing up and down, can be obtained. Many lovely and lonesome scenes for an artist can be found in the shady nooks and fern-clad banks up and down the Geilston burn, which takes its rise in the Killiter range of moors. At a turn of the burn there is a very picturesque mill which has long done duty in various ways, first as a wool mill, latterly for charcoal, and now, extended in size, is known as the Kilmahew saw-mill. It is occupied by a well-known native of Cardross, Major M'Intyre, V.D., who is noted as a crack rifle-shot, having, on Lanark Muir, performed the splendid feat of making thirteen "bull's eyes" in succession at 900 yards. A still older structure behind the saw-mill, was from time immemorial a meal mill.

Following the Auchenfroe or Cardross burn down to the shore the beacon, shaped like an Iona Cross and painted black and white, will be noticed on the shore, close to the burn's mouth. Several more beacons of similar form are placed at intervals across the firth, the last at Newark Castle on the opposite shore. This indicates the jurisdiction of the Clyde Trust, and the posts are very serviceable in fogs to guide the ferry-boat across the river. There used to be several ferries in former days, with good substantial "wherries" for conveying passengers and goods across the firth, but now they are little used for that purpose. Cardross ferry over the river Leven at Dunbarton, where now is the old bridge begun in 1765, and several times altered and enlarged Craigend ferry; Burnfoot ferry at mouth of Cardross burn; Geilston ferry; at The Murraghs, and others. There was an old-fashioned hotel, known as Fraser's Hotel, which did a good business in those days, especially on Sundays, when the farmers and their servants would adjourn to the hotel after morning service. Murraghs farm is a small house with its gable on to the shore, it used to be a red-tiled structure from whence the ferry boats use to start, and there can be seen the remains of a yair for fishing in front of the farm building. An old right to the yair fishing must have been enjoyed here, as at other places on the shore. The rude quay from whence passengers used to embark on the boats, is standing yet, not much the worse of the storms of generations, and is often used by excursionists from Port-Glasgow and other places. Close to the farm building is the modest single-storeyed dwelling Sea-bank, where lived the last of the Sharp family who owned Kilmahew estate for a time. These old ferry houses, which have a few trees and shrubs around them, were well patronised until the construction of the Helensburgh railway, brought their trade to an end.

Once more returning to the Helensburgh road the two properties of Brooks and Ardardan are passed on the left, and to the right is Mollandhu. The latter is owned by the Parochial Board of Cardross, which has the administration of Mrs. bsoore's bequest. These all formed part of the old estate of the Nobles of Ferme, and now have returned to the possession of Sir Andrew Noble. Ardardan is a long, old-fashioned, commodious house, which was described in 1178 as "a new built, genteel, modern house, pleasantly situated, and fit to accommodate a large family." The eastern wing was added by Mr. Neilson, the main building having been erected by Mr. Andrew Buchanan, a tenant who held under a long lease, and recently large additions have been made. Where the estates of Ardmore, Lyleston, and Keppoch march with one another, there is a splendid view of the Clyde estuary, with its mountain banks, and all the wooded and moorland scenery in the vicinity of the Gareloch and Loch Long, with the numerous embowered villas of Helensburgh in the foreground. On the left hand is the Ardmore peninsula crowned with fine trees, the trap rock shining at intervals amid the - encircling belt of verdure, and the heaving waters of the Clyde lave this curious point of land.

Ardmore has indeed many features of strange interest, and will richly reward the geologist and the botanist, and it has a history and tradition which will repay investigation. It means literally the "great height" or promontory, and no doubt, ages ago, was a mere rocky island. Tradition tells that formerly there was a stone castle upon Ardmore, with deep dungeons hewn out of the solid rock, and it is almost certain that the hill of Ardmore was occupied as a camp by the Romans. These invaders left traces of their occupation, so it is alleged, in a rude causeway which led inland towards Keppoch, although there is no longer any remains of this to be found. Of Celtic occupancy there are many evidences in the names of the neighbouring places, such as Camis-Eskan, "curve of the waters," Drumfork, "ridge of the port," Keppoch, "the tilled land," Kipperminshoch, "field of ash stumps," and many others. The land on the neck of Ardmore point is but little higher than the shore, but the round mass of red puddingstone rock, in which are embedded pebbles of quartz, rises to the height of over forty feet above sea level. On the summit of this great mass of rock, which seems to stand as a tower to mark where the narrower estuary of the river widens out to the full breadth of the noble Frith of Clyde, there is a table land of excellent soil. Many venerable trees, particularly some large beeches, and several noble Spanish chestnuts, the latter over 200 years old, with numerous other varieties, form a leafy fringe of deep verdure round this remarkable rocky barrier. But the chief interest is in the round rampart of conglomerate, where Romans, Celts, Picts, and other ancient dwellers, found an appropriate stronghold from whence to issue on their despoiling forays.

It is well to make the round of the great circular sea wall, and at some points it presents a singularly picturesque bit of scenery, the red rugged rock overhung and festooned with many different creeping plants, and ivy of several varieties, wild briars, broom, and whins, and ferns of delicate foliage, with interesting groups of wild flowers nestling amidst the clefts and hollows of the rock. In some places the ivy has grown into huge umbrageous masses of pendant verdure, and at intervals there may be seen long bare faces of the rock. Cracks, caves and fissures every few hundred yards, shew how the action of the wave3, long centuries ago, had told upon the mass of conglomerate, detaching the quartz pebbles from their sockets. On the lip of the precipice different trees have formed a resting place, and their' waving boughs mingle their sighing and rushing wail, as the storm winds wrestle with the long pendant branches. And a little way off the hoarse surges of the Clyde, on the long winter's night, form an appropriate dirge in the brief intervals of the howling tempest. Almost at the extreme end of the precipice there is a curious old round tower, built right against the rocky face, and which seems to have been a sort of outwork of defence. It is entered from the ground by a large door, and inside the tower there are traces of two distinct floors, also loop holes in the wall, and small windows. The height of the whole is over 30 feet, and it is not easy to conjecture to what purpose the structure may have been put in former days. From this point the promontory runs out some distance into the firth being now a field of rough grass pasture, with traces of former cultivation, for it is evident that all over the hill of Ardmore there was good arable soil.

There is a grass-grown road running around the rock, and many varieties of shrubs and wild flowers cluster along the verge of this roadway, and at the foot of the rock. Numerous botanical specimens of some of the rarer plants, mosses, and ivies may be culled. General Geils, who acquired the estate in the end of last century, built several wells, where beautiful clear water trickled in a copious stream from the rock, and these remain to this day, yielding a refreshing draught in the hottest day of summer. On ascending to the plateau above, there are several good sized fields, and embowered amid some fine old lime trees is Ardmore house, a good substantial structure, built in the beginning of the present century, of plain architecture, and well sheltered by the belt of trees from the tremendous gales which prevail on that exposed point. At the back of the house a walk with thick hedges on either side leads up to a curious telescope-shaped structure, known as "The Tower," with an open gallery all round the lower storey, and one or two rooms in the upper part.

Near the garden of Ardmore a grassy road leads to the old ferry-house, in the middle of which stands a stone pedestal, once surmounted with a statue of Diana. The ferry-house at one time did a good business along with the others between Helensburgh and Dunbar-ton, but now it presents a rather ruinous aspect. Twenty years ago, in a violent winter storm, a great part of the building, and the ground on which it stood was washed away; though the rough pier still stands on the shore in fair preservation. On the opposite side of the promontory is seen the old yair house, where the man lived who gathered in the fish left by the receding tide in the rude enclosure of stones, the remains of which can distinctly be traced in the bay of Ardmore. There was another yair a little way down, opposite Camis Eskan, known formerly as the Colgrain yair. Even at the present day salmon are sometimes taken near Ardmore point, arid the long flat shore, with patches of half submerged turf arid mounds of sea weed observable at low water on either side of the promontory, is a great haunt of numbers of sea birds. In winter time, large flocks of red shanks, golden plovers, geese, and ducks, gather on this favourite feeding ground. Great flights of golden plovers come together in time of snow, and alight upon the long reaches of sandy and muddy shore. Woodcock, snipe, teal, moor hens, and other fresh water fowls congregate along these flats, and feed upon the innumerable marine insects, sandworms, and molluscs to be found in the pools. When winter approaches these birds, along with sandpipers, curlews, widgeons, teal, ducks, and others, leave their accustomed haunts, and flock together near the Cardross shores. Even barnacles, and other Norwegian geese, are found amongst our home birds feeding upon the marine grasses, or occasionally betaking themselves to the inland fields.

The following description of the wild fowl shooting as it used to be carried on, and still is, to a smaller extent, taken from the old Helensburgh guide before referred to, will be found of interest. "It is by no means an easy task to obtain a shot at a flight of ducks, and exercises a more thorough knowledge of the habits of this wary bird than seems at first necessary. The sportsman must make up his mind to fatigue, cold, and repeated disappointment, if he would earn success. There are two methods of following them generally employed, which we will attempt to describe. The first is by a sailing boat. A bright day, with a smart breeze blowing, is preferred. Armed with guns of larger calibre than are generally used on the moor, and using No. 1 shot, or B.B., the sportsman endeavours to manage his boat so as to keep- the sun betwixt him and the birds. The light thus prevents his approach being noticed so easily as it would be if it were behind him, and a sailing craft glides much more noiselessly and rapidly down upon the object than under oars. If he can get within ninety yards of the flock, success is almost certain. A few outer birds rise first, the others are alarmed and swim rapidly off, turning their heads every way, apparently planning the best mode of escape from danger ; suddenly a rustle of a multitude of wings, a rush of water, and the whole are under flight. Now is the moment. Fairly risen from the water, with outspread pinions, the gunner draws upon them once or twice, as their distance may admit, and a successful shot shows half a dozen of them dropping with a helpless flap into their native element. The slain are immediately picked up, and chase given to those only wounded, who oftentimes are difficult to recover, and afford a long hunt before all are captured. If not carefully watched from the very first, they disperse about by swimming and diving in various directions, and the pursuit soon becomes utterly hopeless. Few things require more careful watching than a wounded duck in the water."

"The other, and perhaps more successful, mode of duck shooting is followed by moonlight at low tide, upon those banks where the birds feed. When the moon is full, or nearly so, with a gray sky overhead, the sport may be pursued with some prospect of success, varying, of course, according to the knowledge and practice of the shooter. A blue sky is quite unsuitable, as, however near the birds may be, you cannot see them with the distinctness necessary to a fair shot. The mode of proceeding is thus. On arriving at the bank, the shooter selects a stone in a Iikely spot—the drier the more comfortable—squats down upon it, and invokes patience to his aid. If the ducks are in migratory mood—which they are not always—his reverie will be soon broken, and his congealing blood startled into circulation by the whistling of the teal, or the melodious quack of the mallard approaching him. Cocking his gun and rapidly scanning the horizon, his eye catches sight of the birds. If they are only within doubtful range, an old hand will let them pass without risking a shot, knowing that, in all probability, they may return again more closely to him. If a fair shot offers, the birds are allowed to pass beyond the sitter, who should on no account fire at advancing birds, as the chances against his killing any of them, no matter how near, are twenty to one. Once past, however, he selects a bird from the centre of the group, and fires. If they are anything compact, three, four, or five birds may fall. Now is the value of a good dog known. If the shooter rises to collect his birds, he will get the slain, but may have a weary and difficult hunt after the wounded, and probably lose some of them in the dark. What is perhaps worse, the time he is dancing about he is scaring other flights of birds, and losing chances he may never again have. The rule seems to be never to let him rise from his seat if he can avoid it, and the dog saves any necessity for running after wounded birds ; but if he have gone, let him regain his post as soon as possible. If the night is favourable, the sport may be pursued as long as the shooter can endure the cold, and the tide admits. When once the water flows to his knees it is time for him, at all hazards, to take himself off, and seek the shortest road to land. This sport is chiefly followed at Cardross, and the bays at Hill Ardmore."

Returning to the Helensburgh road the estates of Lyleston and Keppoch are passed, and then the extensive property of Colgrain so long owned by the Dennistoun family. From 1466 to 1337 Lyleston was in the possession of the family of Lord Lyle, who conveyed it to James Noble of Ferme, whose family held it till 1708, when it was sold to James Donald. In 1890 the estate was sold by the Rev. Duncan Macalister Donald, now minister of Moulin, to Sir Andrew Noble, the descendant of its former owner. Keppoch estate which adjoins was acquired by William Dunlop, banker in Greenock in 1820, who built the present mansion near the site of the old tower erected when the Ewings owned the property, which a few years ago passed into the hands of Alexander Crum Ewing of Strathleven. The Keppoch estate was formerly given by John, Earl of Lennox to William Stirling of Glorat, for special services in the taking of the castle of Dunbarton. Camis Eskan has a fine situation, embowered in woods which clothe that portion of the estate, and are carried well up the heather hills at the back of the house, which is an irregular pile, part of it as old as the year 1648. The house was begun by that devoted adherent of the crown, John Dennistoun, but not completed till a number of years after his death in 1655. Even in 1667 the mansion was yet unfinished, for in that year his daughter Margaret was married to William Dennistoun, younger of Dalquhurn, "in a barn at the Feddans of Colgrain." On the Colgrain estate there are some valuable farms, the soil in this neighbourhood being alluvial, of great fertilising power, and the improvements commenced by Mr. Dennistoun were continued by his successors the Campbells. A short distance from Camis Eskan brings the visitor to the Craigendoran station of the North British Railway, which only a few years ago was the site of a comfortable farm house with the clear burn running down from Drumfork and mingling its pellucid waters with the broad estuary of the Clyde.

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