River Leven

The short but fast River Leven flows from Loch Lomond into the Clyde.

The 18th century novelist, Tobias Smollett, (1721-71) who was born in the Vale of Leven and wrote an Ode to Leven Water, described one journey, 'We now crossed the water of Leven which, though nothing near so considerable as the Clyde, is much more transparent, pastoral and delightful.

This charming stream is the outlet of Loch Lomond and through a tract of four miles pursues its winding course,  murmuring over a bed of pebbles, till it joins the firth at Dumbarton.'

At Dumbarton it is spanned by a  bridge, completed in 1765,  which formed part of the Dumbarton to Inverary road, constructed in 1743 as part of the military road system developed by General Wade and continued by Major William Caulfeild, to contain the Jacobite sympathisers in the Highlands.

Bleaching, dyeing and, most of all, shipbuilding transformed the pastoral Leven. As many as 20 shipbuilding companies have come and gone, some like Archibald MacMillan & Son lasting almost a century, others short-lived. Scott & Linton produced only 9 ships before going bankrupt but one of these was the Cutty Sark. The famous tea clipper was fitted out at Denny's Shipyard which became the dominant shipbuilder in Dumbarton.

Also at Dumbarton (Back to listing)