Happy days at the har­bour...

Great fun for the lo­cal young­sters

Lennox Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Lor­raine Weir

A beauty spot just out­side Dum­bar­ton is be­com­ing a hive of ac­tiv­ity thanks to a £3mil­lion fund­ing boost.

Bowl­ing Har­bour is the home to a host of ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing ca­noe­ing, raft build­ing, cy­cling and wa­ter zorb­ing — with a sud­den surge in peo­ple tak­ing up stand up pad­dle board­ing on the canal.

An ac­tion-packed fes­ti­val has marked the end of the first busy sea­son.

Tucked away in a quite cor­ner be­tween Dum­bar­ton and Cly­de­bank, Bowl­ing Har­bour is be­com­ing a real hub of ac­tiv­ity.

And the beauty spot, which pro­vides un­ri­valled views of the Clyde, was truly buzzing dur­ing a mini fes­ti­val last month show­cas­ing the best the area has to of­fer.

This year has been a land­mark one for the site which has ben­e­fit­ted from more than £3mil­lion in pub­lic fund­ing as, in spring­time, the BHive Ac­tiv­ity Hub opened its doors for the first time giv­ing fam­i­lies and com­mu­nity groups the chance to sam­ple a vast range of wa­ter and land ac­tiv­i­ties.

Their fes­ti­val at the end of Septem­ber proved to be pop­u­lar and signed off a suc­cess­ful first sea­son.

Work is now un­der­way to build on the progress taken this year into 2018.

Matt Skilling, Ac­tiv­i­ties Co­or­di­na­tor at Scot­tish Canals, said: “Through­out the sum­mer, it’s been quite wet and there’s still a lot of peo­ple who don’t know where Bowl­ing Har­bour is.

“But by hav­ing a pres­ence, it def­i­nitely has brought foot­fall down to the site.

“The busi­nesses have re­ported an in­crease in foot­fall. On Satur­day there, that was the third ac­tiv­ity day that I had or­gan­ised and that was re­ally well at­tended. The Dug Cafe re­ported one of the busiest ever cafes.”

Since the start of the year, the Dug Cafe, a dog-friendly cof­fee shop, Pa­ton’s Parcels and Magic Cy­cles

Our tar­get mar­kets are the school and youth groups. We are go­ing for those about eight years up to about 18 or 19

have all been trad­ing at Bowl­ing Har­bour and, with the BHive ac­tiv­ity hub open­ing in spring, the area is bustling.

Matt told us more about the new ad­di­tion and the think­ing be­hind it. He said: “Peo­ple are tied up be­hind com­put­ers and XBoxes and we are try­ing to spark up fam­ily in­ter­ac­tion of play.

“I have only been with Scot­tish Canals for 11 months now and, even dur­ing my time. I have no­ticed so much devel­op­ment.

“I am work­ing re­ally closely with the so­cial en­ter­prise based in the rail­way bridge arches to bring down more ac­tiv­ity and more foot­fall.”

The BHive was launched in April and with a week of free ac­tiv­i­ties to five dif­fer­ent lo­cal schools.

Fol­low­ing on from that, there was a taster week­end or­gan­ised which was re­ally well at­tended.

Those go­ing along have had the chance to sam­ple the wide va­ri­ety of ac­tiv­i­ties on of­fer in­clud­ing ca­noe­ing, raft build­ing, soft archery, stand-up pad­dle board­ing and wa­ter­zorb­ing.

Matt added: “Our tar­get mar­kets are the school and the youth groups. We are go­ing for those about eight years up to about 18 or 19.

“We have had Y-Sort It down and I am in close com­mu­ni­ca­tion with them with a view to get­ting some­thing set up for next year.”

Speak­ing about the ac­tiv­i­ties which have at­tracted most in­ter­est, Matt said: “I would say, from my point of view, def­i­nitely stand-up pad­dle board­ing and ca­noe­ing.

“There’s def­i­nitely been a sud­den surge in stand-up pad­dle board­ing and the canal is per­fect for that be­cause it’s very shel­tered.”

As well as all of these ac­tiv­i­ties, some prom­i­nent com­mu­nity groups went along to the fes­ti­val last month to take part in­clud­ing the Sky­lark Trust and Con­cord Com­mu­nity Cin­ema.

And Matt is hop­ing that by spread­ing the word about Bowl­ing Har­bour to them, more peo­ple lo­cally will make their way to the canal site to find out more.

He added: “We were run­ning even­ing yoga ses­sions which was re­ally good.

“There was one even­ing when we had seven peo­ple that turned up, four of whom turned up were from Dum­bar­ton and didn’t know where Bowl­ing was.

“All of these com­mu­nity events help bring peo­ple here.”

More in­for­ma­tion is avail­able on­line at www.bowl­ing­har­bour. co.uk

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Tak­ing aim These boys en­joyed find­ing out about archery

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Con­nect­ing The gar­den games are pop­u­lar

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Pony trekking The young­sters got to sam­ple a va­ri­ety of ac­tiv­i­ties at the fes­ti­val

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On the wa­ter Stand-up pad­dle board­ing is one of the suc­cess sto­ries at Bowl­ing

Com­mu­nity link In­clu­sive Images, which op­er­ates across West Dun­bar­ton­shire, were at the fes­ti­val 230919BOWLING_HARBOUR_FESTIVAL_012

All smiles This young­ster was keen on ca­noe­ing 230919BOWLING_HARBOUR_FESTIVAL_015

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Scenic site The lo­ca­tion at Bowl­ing is stun­ning

Wheely great Magic Cy­cles op­er­ates from Bowl­ing

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