THE plan was to leave school and leave Gourock, a town seated on the River Clyde less than an hour West of Glasgow.

Growing up there I envied those who lived in Glasgow, the 40-minute train journey I’d take each Saturday with friends then a chore.

It was only when that journey became an almost daily occurrence upon beginning university in the big city that I began to fall in love with the seaside town.

During lockdowns in 2020, I felt privileged to be able to walk along a clearer than usual River Clyde with the sunsets behind the hills providing a momentary escape from passing ambulances and images on the news.

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Like Dunoon, Largs, and Rothesay, Gourock was once a hot spot for holidaymakers from the city looking to go 'doon the watter' during Glasgow’s Fair Weekend.

Public transport such as ferries would be packed with excited families armed with a bucket and spade, breathing in the overdue fresh air in their escape from industrial Glasgow.

One such ferry may have been the Waverly, the world’s last seagoing paddle steamer which my great grandfather had a role in building.

I sometimes catch a glimpse of it from the view from the treadmill at my gym - you’ll hear its distinctive sound before you see it. 

Like much of Scotland, Gourock in the winter is dreich but in the summer it’s like being transported miles away.

The main shopping street, Kempock Street, becomes the strip and my small family home becomes a beachside vila.

Despite its short length, Kempock Street is home to numerous gift shops and busy pubs and restaurants - some of which date back to the late 1800s.                               

For fellow art lovers, the Pirate and the Bluebelle, a shop which prides itself on showcasing the work of independent artists, designers and ethical brands is the perfect place to purchase a Gourock souvenir or a unique art print.

No seaside visit would be complete without some ice cream; the Bluebird Café on Cardwell Road is an institution whose secret recipe has passed through generations delivering a taste of holidays gone by.

With all I could say about Gourock, my absolute favourite place to visit is the Gourock Outdoor Swimming Pool, a heated saltwater lido and the oldest of its kind in Scotland.

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There is nothing quite like stepping out of the changing room into the cold air and jumping into the heat of the water reminiscent of the Mediterranean.

Open from May to September, you will find swimmers braving the elements no matter the weather.

Gourock provides the best of both worlds; I can dip my toes in the Clyde while looking at a view that I don’t believe can be found in many other places, and then be in Scotland’s biggest city in less than an hour.

I am sure one day I will find myself living in the city but until then Gourock has brought a renewed fondness for home.