Firth of Clyde

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Firth of Clyde
Map of the Firth of Clyde

Map of the Firth of Clyde

Waters North channel
Land mass Great Britain (island)
Geographical location 55 ° 40 ′  N , 5 ° 0 ′  W Coordinates: 55 ° 40 ′  N , 5 ° 0 ′  W
Firth of Clyde (Scotland)
Firth of Clyde
width 42 km
Tributaries Clyde , River Ayr , Crinan Canal , Irvine , Ranza

The Firth of Clyde is an estuary on the west coast of Scotland , separated from the Atlantic by the Kintyre Peninsula . The English word Firth means " fjord " or " fjord ". It lies between the counties of Argyll and Ayrshire and is about 42 km wide at its outer end. Loch Long and Gare Loch branch off at the inner end . In this region is also Greenock with the Tail of the Bank called sandbar , where the River Clyde flows into the Firth of Clyde. The river is still 3 km wide at the sandbar and the tides are noticeable into Glasgow city ​​center .


Towns and villages on the Firth of Clyde

Islands in the Firth of Clyde

Arran, Bute, Great Cumbrae, Holy Island and Inchmarnock are inhabited and connected to the mainland by ferries. Little Cumbrae and Sanda are also inhabited, but have no ferry connection. The other islands are uninhabited.

Most of these islands formed the traditional county of Bute . Today they are roughly equally divided between the Unitary Authorities Argyll and Bute and North Ayrshire . The islands of Alisa Craig and Lady Isle, however, belong to South Ayrshire .

Branching inlets


The Firth of Clyde was an important shipping route in prehistoric times. The Battle of Largs in 1263 ended the rule of the Vikings in western Scotland. During the Victorian era , the area became a popular destination for Glasgow residents. They traveled with steamships 'doon the watter' ( Scots : down the river) to the towns and villages on the Firth. Some towns such as Largs, Dunoon and Rothesay flourished with the construction of representative holiday homes and developed into tourist centers with hotels and numerous attractions. The last representative of the Clyde Steamer steamers, the PS Waverley , still operates between the individual coastal towns today. In 1942, during the Second World War , an oil pipeline was laid for the first time on the ocean floor as part of Operation Pluto . In the years 1944/45 this was the starting or ending point of some northern sea convoys , such as the JW 64 , JW 65 and the RA 66 .

The shipyards in Greenock and Port Glasgow played an important role. The PS Comet was the first steamship in Europe and well into the 20th century a large part of global ship production was concentrated here. More recently, the natural beauty of the Firth has been marred in places by a concentration of industrial and military installations, including the Hunterston and Inverkip oil-fired power plants. The shipbuilding industry has lost much of its importance, with only one shipyard left. The Garvel dry dock in Greenock remains in operation for repairs, while the Inchgreen dry dock in Port Glasgow is only used sporadically. The site of the former Greenock shipyard is part of a regeneration project.

Marine fauna

Common animal species in the Firth of Clyde include harbor seals , gray seals and common porpoises . Dolphins are less numerous , but they were sighted in the interior of the Firth in summer 2005. Large whales do not seem to prefer these waters, only pilot whales and minke whales are regularly observed. After the Strait of The Minch in the Outer Hebrides , the Firth of Clyde has the second largest population of basking sharks . They seem to prefer the warm, shallow waters around the small island of Pladda .

In the past, there was intensive fishing in the Firth. The only species that are commercially viable today are prawns , lobsters and herrings . The University of Glasgow and the University of London operate a marine biology station on Great Cumbrae .


Both the Firth of Clyde and the River Clyde were major centers of shipbuilding. There were shipyards in Renfrew , Greenock , Port Glasgow and Troon, and a major boat builder in Fairlie . The Ferguson Shipyard next to Newark Castle is one of the last remaining privately operated shipyards in Scotland. Port Glasgow is home to one of the world's largest dry docks with a length of 305 meters and a width of 44 meters.

The draft in the Firth of Clyde is large enough that the world's largest cargo ships can operate here. For this reason the Clyde is one of the most important ports in Great Britain; Around 7.5 million tons of goods are handled annually. The Greenock Ocean Terminal is the starting point for numerous cruise ships .

The port company Clydeport, the district administration of North Ayrshire and the business development authority Scottish Enterprise are planning a deep-sea port for container ships in addition to the existing ore loading terminal in Hunterston ; the cost is said to be around £ 200 million . This would make the Clyde one of the most important container ports in Northern Europe. The first studies have already been commissioned.

Twelve ferry routes connect the islands to the mainland, most of which are operated by Caledonian MacBrayne . There are four lighthouses at Cloch Point, Toward Point, on Little Cumbrae and on Pladda.

The Firth of Clyde is also used by the Royal Navy . The Faslane-on-Clyde submarine base is located on the east bank of the Gare Loch , while the British nuclear warheads for the Trident submarines are stored in the Coulport naval depot on Loch Long . From Greenock, ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and the Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service operate in support of the Royal Navy.

Web links

Commons : Firth of Clyde  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  • The Clyde: River and Firth , 1907, Neil Munro
  • The Firth of Clyde , 1952, George Blake
  • Glasgow and the Clyde , 1965, Ward Lock Guide
  • Clyde Coast Connections , 2010, Neil Grieves
  • From Comet to Cal Mac: Two Centuries of Hebridean and Clyde Shipping , 2011, Donald E Meek & Bruce Peter
  • Firth of Clyde: Sailing Directions and Anchorages , 2012, Clyde Cruising Club
  • HM Naval Base: Clyde , 2012, Keith Hall