Greenock was once a town of some renown, a busy seaport bristling with
shipyards and industries like sugar refining and rope making. You can
see evidence of those long forgotten wealthy days in the grand houses
built for merchants, and in the many tall thin steeples and spires that
tower over the town.
These days Greenock's not so great. A few years ago, during the build-up to the town's hosting of
the Tall Ships Race, a television reporter asked the owner of a
fast-food stall how she was preparing for the huge expected influx of
tourists. Her reply was something like, 'We'll be ordering in more
sausage-rolls.' Clearly, visitors were in for a real treat. And that
almost sums up the town. They're trying, but not quite hard enough. They
put up boards with maps to allow visitors to find their way around, then
pay them scant regard as moss and mould cover them up. They erect fine
underpasses leading to waterfronts, then do little when they become
coated in grime and graffiti. For the Greenock of today is very rough
around the edges. There is a monstrous shopping centre that has cleaved
the town in two, ripping out its beating heart and replacing it with one
of glass. It's kinda sad.
But for all its failings, it is Greenock's location that is its jewel.
Invigorating walks along The Esplanade towards Gourock offer
visitors fine views across the wide Firth of Clyde, and that is
thankfully something that can never change.