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Helensburgh is a town on the southeast side of Gare Loch in Scotland, 33 miles northwest of Glasgow, 5 miles west of Loch Lomond.

The town is popular for its Leisure Centre, Promenade with Diners and Ice Cream, The Hill House designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and visiting the villages of Rhu for the grave of Henry Bell, and Garelochhead for the Memorial of Isabella Campbell. Area Walk.

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Helensburgh Map Large Images
Hotels B&Bs Self Catering
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Click on Map for Area Attractions

Camping & Touring Parks in area

The image top right is of the Promenade along the shore at Helensburgh. There is a good Lochside path from here north to Kidstone Park 1 mile, Rhu Marina 2 miles, and Rhu Point 3 miles.

The second image right is of the Helensburgh Leisure Centre that opened in 2022 with 2 swimming pools, luxury health suite with steam room and sauna, two modern fitness studios, cafe and shop.

Colquhoun Square is about 100 yards north of the Leisure Centre, up Colquhoun Street, next to the Railway Station. This is the centre of Helensburgh, a relaxing area with lots of Seating, Churches and Celtic Crosses.

The Hill House is 1 mile north of Helensburgh centre, built from 1902 - 1904 to designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh for the publisher Walter Blackie. The House had a cover / box put over it in 2019 to help with conversation works, with visits allowed to view the House from walkways around the box. Map

Charles Rennie Mackintosh 1868 - 1928, is the biggest name in Scottish design.

Helensburgh Golf Club is 1 mile northwest of the Town centre, an 18 hole moorland course built in 1893.

The Lochside Walk 1 mile north takes you to Kidstone Park with the popular Ardencaple Hotel for drinks, coffee and meals.

Rhu Marina is 1 mile north of Kidstone Park via a good Lochside Path with a Cafe with great views.

Rhu Village top attraction is the Church from 1851 with the Ornate Grave of Henry Bell, who built the first commercial Steamship named Comet, also has a short walk out to Rhu Point.

The small village of Garelochhead is 6 miles north at the head of Gare Loch, with the top attraction being a short walk to the Isabella Campbell (1807 - 1827) Memorial, one of two Holy local sisters. See the large images at the top of this page for Garelochhead. Map

The Faslane Military Base was opened at Garelochhead in 1941, converted to operate Nuclear Submarines in 1964, a place most people just want to see as is the most dangerous place in the UK, between potential accidents or Russian attacks. The Image bottom right is from the walk to the Isabella Campbell Grave.

Helensburgh History

1100s - the original Ardencaple Castle was built for the Lairds of Ardencaple / Clan MacAulay where Helensburgh is today.

1752 - Sir James Colquhoun bought this area known as Malig, to build the town of Helensburgh, with him encouraging companies to set up business in the Town. Few businesses moved to Helensburgh as the Port was shallow and Roads to Glasgow were not good. Farming and Herring Fishing were the main businesses in the area.

1760s - John Campbell, 4th Duke of Argyll, gained control of Ardencaple Castle as it had been abandoned. There were then a number of owners up to 1939.

1806 - Henry Bell moved to Helensburgh to open a Spa Hotel, with him being best known for building the Paddle Steamer Comet in 1812 to transfer passengers from Glasgow and Greenock to his Hotel in Helensburgh, with the Comet being the first Commercial Steamer in Europe.

This led to more Hotels in Helensburgh with the Town being advertised as a Holiday Resort.

1807 - 1827 - Isabella Campbell lived in the area, said to be an influential religious person. Her Memorial is a popular short walk from Garelochhead.

1817 - The Quay was built in the Town Centre for visiting Boats, this being just a Pile of Rocks, not a real harbour.

1858 - the Glasgow Railway reached Helensburgh passing through Dumbarton, leading to the growth of the town.

1903 - The Hill House was built to designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a time a large number of Victorian Villas were being built on the north side of the town for wealthy Glasgow business people.

1939? - Ardencaple Castle was taken over by the Royal Navy at the outbreak of WWII, with it being demolished in 1957 to make way for Naval Housing, all that remains is the Tower. You can view the Tower from Kidstone Park on the north side of Helensburgh.

1941 - during WWII, Faslane opened as a Military Base at the head of Gare Loch, 5 miles north of Helensburgh, with the Railway soon extended to Faslane.

1964 - 1968 - four 7,500 ton Resolution Class Submarines with Polaris Nuclear Weapons were built to be operated out of Faslane.

1994 - 1999 - four 16,000 ton Vanguard Class Submarines were built with Trident Nuclear Weapons to be operated out of Faslane.

2010s - much of Helensburgh centre was upgraded, with Colquhoun Square transformed into a scenic pedestrian only area, also for Farmers Markets and Festivals.

2022 - a Leisure Centre was built at the Quay for Swimming and Fitness.

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