After reading about La Barca's brilliant 4th win, I began thinking about the "foodie" direction Helensburgh seems to be heading in. Helensburgh is becoming a destination town known for its food and so far local restaurateurs have been careful with the style of food they've chosen for their restaurants. Milan and Cara Nikolic have expanded their business cleverly, filling gaps in the market with La Barca, then Cattle and Creel and now La Padrone. Fruin Farm filled a much needed gap of being genuinely child friendly but also serving good food. The Sugar Boat is opening soon but without eating there it's hard to say what gap they'll fill. Peckhams are opening up in the old council offices on Sinclair Street. What else could Helensburgh take? Would there be enough room for a dedicated seafood restaurant or Japanese maybe?
There's talk that the town is reaching saturation point with the number of restaurants but, with the business rents, what else can afford to take the vacant spaces? These days restaurateurs are savvy business people not just "passionate chefs" and will have done their homework. My thoughts are that, provided no one sets up in direct competition for the evening crowd, with similar styles of food as current successful restaurants but instead aims to meet as yet undiscovered demands then the town can take a few more.
These are my favourite 5 restaurants in the Helensburgh and Lomond area at the moment.
#1 The Riverhill Courtyard
#2The Loch Lomond Arms Hotel
#3 Cattle and Creel
#5 Fruin Farm
I have to declare an interest here. I've worked in the Courtyard, first under Johnny Aitken and then Dom Wrighthouse, and I absolutely love their style of food so I am biased towards them but Cattle and Creel is good too and you would be foolish to discount PJ's. PJ's may not be open every night but his menus are fresh and exciting and a meal at PJ's is always a safe bet. The Loch Lomond Arms went through a disappointing phase a couple of years ago but is back on track and eating there is an absolute pleasure, their recent awards are justly deserved. I love Fruin Farm too, it doesn't matter whether it's cake and coffee, lunch or supper, the food is always good and the service friendly.
We are spoilt for choice here when it comes to eating out locally, the number of award winning restaurants for this relatively small area is impressive and I'm looking forward to Helensburgh's foodie future.
This is a brilliant walk for toddlers and young children, it's about a mile in length on dirt track, gravel and duck boards. All terrain buggies cope well, I had a Nipper Out n' About which required no effort to push round. If it's raining, the gravel path and boardwalk are sheltered but the dirt track gets muddy.
I first discovered Peaton Hill Community Nature Reserve back in 2012 just after we'd moved up. J was away a lot and, with a fractious 4 month old, much time was spent driving around and pushing the buggy to try and get her to sleep. I'm not sure how the collaboration started but my understanding is that a group of friends, some of whom are ex MOD policemen, got together and decided to create something the community could enjoy from a patch of wilderness owned by the MOD. They have created a wildlife haven with gravel paths, ponds, small animal habitats, bird feeding stations, boardwalk over marsh, picnicking space with stunning views and tranquil areas where you can just sit, watch and listen to nature as it carries on around you
The carpark is your starting point, there are two exits and for this walk you need to head for the wooden height restriction and in front you'll see a dirt track. This is a circular walk and about 25 meters along on the right you'll see two yellow arrows. You can turn right and do the walk that way (backwards! - long standing family argument about which is the correct way to go around. I maintain that since I discovered the walk first, my way is the correct way) or carry on. The road joining the Coulport Road and Peaton Road runs to your left. The track ends in a clearing with benches and poles with what I think are Scout related carvings at the top, on the right is a gravel path entering the woods. As you walk along the gravel path you pass numerous ponds and small animal habitats and come to an area with a bench opposite a bird feeding station.
From here the walk opens out from the woods to stunning views, along the path are picnic tables and it's a lovely place just to sit and think about nothing in particular
At the end of the track is the start of the boardwalk which weaves its way through the woods past little ponds, in and out of the trees. As the boardwalk finishes is a bench opposite the largest pond, here you can sit and if lucky, you'll see a heron fishing amidst the bull rushes. Off the boardwalk and at the end of the path turn left back towards the carpark. In the car park is a hut which is open to the public, inside is a wealth of information about the animals you may have seen on your walk and where you can record what you observed.
This probably one of my favourite walks and one that I never get tired of. The work the group of friends have put in is amazing and they really have created something special. No matter the time of year, there's always something different to look at regardless of your age