If you ignore the town centre and take to the hills that lift the town of Dunoon away from the Clyde the town leaves largely to its own devices, you will find a very different place – one that teaches you an alternaative relationship to the town.
Here are sweeping crescents and swooping steep little streets curving and plunging away down into the town.
Here are characterful little precincts, vistas to the Clyde over rooftops and between foliage, teasing glimpses of the entrances to small streets with no idea where they may lead you.
Here are buildings with charm, grandeur, fascinating detail and sanctity – like the discovery of the The Braes, above, leading to the wonderful High Kirk, detailed further below and currently under restoration.
Here are secret places of tranquillity.
Here are prominent reminders of merchant wealth that still fuel the culture of the town.
This, of course, is Castle Hill Museum with its lovely gardens, a magical repository of all varieties of histories of Dunoon, its people, its lifestyles, its business, its businesses and the various roles it has played over time, in peace, in war and in half-war; staffed by volunteers who are themselves to be treasured.
Here are viewpoints commanding the town below, its features and its approaches by water – this one on the site of the scant remains of the earlier castle at Dunoon – hence ‘Castle Hill’ Museum.
The same viewpoint offers mercifully distant views of aspects of the town which on a good day and from the right angle, can look quite jolly and gay – as here with the rattletrap 1960s’ Queen’s Hall.
Here too persists the curse of Dunoon – although to a much lesser degree – the unnecessary trivial addition and the forest of vertical ‘things’ – sometimes both together.
Here are places that beguile the imagination and somehow soothe…
… that invite exploration.
Here are proud buildings with an obvious original purpose, sometimes, as above, one now left behind.
Here are buildings whose original function is now being painstakingly retrieved, to the benefit of the social and cultural life of the town, as above, with the Dunoon Burgh Hall, on the northern end of the just visible main street, glimpsed from above.
There are domestic and corporate buildings everywhere, full of grace and charm.
And there are glimpses into parts of the town you will not see in the same way from anywhere else.
The photographs here show only a sample of the secrets of a place that can clearly be a beautiful and a prosperous place to live – and seems a very long way away from the frontier town, saloon door, shoot-out character of the town centre way below.
In the nooks and crannies of these airy places above, it is easy to forget the hackery below – but when you get hungry you have to go down there and forage as best you can. And that takes you to our parallel article in this exercise: Looking at Dunoon; the bad and the ugly.
Both perspectives will be pulled together in a later article pointing to what is available to Dunoon to capitalise on in its necessary regeneration.