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Garelochhead,Scotland

Garelochhead is City/Area of Argyll and Bute, Latitude: 56.082, Longitude: -4.82909

Garelochhead from the South   Garelochhead lies, as the name suggests, at the head of Gare Loch, one of the long fjord-like fingers that extend north from the Clyde Estuary into the southern flank of the highlands.

Garelochhead from the South
 
Garelochhead lies, as the name suggests, at the head of Gare Loch, one of the long fjord-like fingers that extend north from the Clyde Estuary into the southern flank of the highlands.

There was virtually nothing here until the advent of the steamer age in the 1820s. Garelochhead initially developed to cater for visiting steamer passengers, with as many as six steamers calling here each day during the summer by 1850.

The railway arrived in 1894, en route from Glasgow to Crianlarich and Fort William. The station sits high on the hillside to the east of the village and provides an excellent viewpoint over the village itself and over the hills of the Rosneath Peninsula beyond.

The railway added a new dimension to Garelochhead, bringing wealthy residents with the means to commute to Glasgow on a daily basis. It rapidly developed as a popular yachting base as well as a resort.

Today’s Garelochhead seems on the face of it to be a continuation of the village a century ago. And it certainly remains within commuting range of Glasgow. A wander around the head of Gare Loch gives a sense of timelessness, a sense that nothing has changed in a very long time.

But Garelochhead’s story started to take a rather different turn during the second world war. A naval base was established on the east shore of Gare Loch at Faslane, two miles south of Garelochhead. Today’s Faslane is an enormous naval base stretching for a mile and a half along the shore of the loch. As you drive north towards Garelochhead this manifests itself as huge quantities of razor wire lining the seaward side of the road. This is here as much to keep out anti-nuclear demonstrators as more conventional threats: Faslane is home to the UK’s nuclear missile-armed submarine fleet.

A road built by the military that sweeps around the north of Garelochhead and down the Rosneath Peninsula to the west of it leads to the Royal Naval Armament Depot at Coulport, on Loch Long. Coulport is, by design, no more approachable than Faslane. And three miles to the north of Garelochhead is another relatively recent arrival, the Finnart Oil Terminal. Tankers of up to 100,000 tons can moor here and unload their cargoes, which are then sent via a 55 mile pipeline to the oil refinery at Grangemouth.

Faslane Naval Base Viewed Across Gare Loch
   

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