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Things to do in Gourock, Central Scotland

Gourock Bay © John Mcleish www.images-scotland
Gourock Bay © John Mcleish www.images-scotland

Gourock is a town in the Central Lowlands of Scotland and a former burgh in the county of Renfrewshire. It was once a seaside resort on the Firth of Clyde but today is a popular residential area three miles west of Greenock and Port Glasgow.

It was from Gourock In 1494, that James IV sailed to supress the rebellions of the Highland clans. During William and Mary's reign Gourock became the Burgh of Barony when a charter was granted to the Stewarts of Castlemilk.

Duncan Darroch left Gourock and made his fortune in Jamaica before returning in 1784 and buying land at Gourock Park. Near the site of an old castle Darroch built Gourock House, using the stone for his grand new house. This was the start of Clan Darroch's connections with the town. The mansion was later demolished and only the park now remains.

Duncan Darroch acquired the Barony of Gourock from the Stewarts in 1784. The newest head of the Darroch clan is Claire Darrock-Thompson, Lady of the Barony of Gourock, a title she inherited on the death of her father in 2011.

Historically Gourock was a small fishing community which made a living from herring curing, quarrying, rope-making and copper mining. More recently it became known for its yacht-building and repair industry.

The viewing tower on Tower Hill was built in 1847. At that time Gourock was a popular seaside resort but tourism gradually died out by the mid 20th century. Former hotels, pavilions and guest houses have now disappeared as the town continues to expand along the coast.

Famous residents of Gourock include author Iain Banks, yachtsman Charlie Barr and artist George Wyllie.

Present Day Gourock

Caledonian MacBrayne Ferries sail regularly from the pierhead to Dunoon and other ferries serve Helensburgh and Kilcreggan. The pierhead was built as a railway terminus for passengers catching the Clyde steamer boats. Nowadays electric trains still connect the pierhead railway station with Glasgow.

The Cloch Lighthouse, built in 1797, is a local landmark on the outskirts of the town, facing Port Riddell across the water.

Kempock Street is the main street and is lined with traditional shops serving Gourock. St John's Church is high above the town and its crown steeple is a local landmark.

Gourock is famous for its boating and the Yachting Club has an unusual dress code. Brown brogues are traditionally worn and caps do not have the usual white covers in deference to George VI's visit when he had to borrow shoes and had no cap.

Things to do in Gourock

Gourock has an esplanade and a superb heated outdoor swimming pool. It was built in 1909 and is being modernized during 2011. A new leisure centre is being built which will include a gym and an upgraded pool.

Granny Kempock Stone is an ancient megalith on the cliff behind Kempock Street. Walking around it seven times is said to bring good luck, particularly to sailors and those about to be married.

Gourock Park has a scout hall and a bowling club. There is also the Gourock Golf Club to the west of the town.

Ferries offer many pleasant trips for exploring the surrounding areas on foot or by car.

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