Tiny nuggets of gold have been found at the bottom of a stream running through a local garden centre.
The amazing discovery has sparked a modern-day Klondike Gold Rush with dozens of would-be prospectors standing knee-deep in the water, panning for the precious metal.
The stream that runs through Cardwell Garden Centre, near Gourock comes from an underground spring on nearby Bargane Hill.
Geological experts believe the recent de-forestation on the hillside led to soil erosion causing sediment – containing the flecks and nuggets of gold that had been lying under the ground for thousands of years – being washed into the stream.
Word of the discovery of gold at Cardwell soon got out and gold panners began flocking to the garden centre.
And the quality of gold found in the stream is so good, news even reached the Yukon Territory, in Canada where one prospector, Rolf Liop immediately flew to Scotland to pan for gold at the garden centre.
Now Rolf has organised gold panning classes at Cardwell to teach Scots how they can make their fortune by finding the shiny nuggets and golden flecks of fortune.
Rolf said: “This discovery at Cardwell Garden Centre sure ain’t fool’s gold. This is the real deal and the quality of the gold nuggets I’ve found in the stream there is top class.
“There’s a fortune to be made at Cardwell if you know the right way to go about panning.
“But I’ve seen people turning up in an old pair of Wellies and jumping into the stream with frying pans, woks and even old pressure cooker pots to pan for the pieces.
“Their enthusiasm is commendable, but they really should have the proper equipment and know the correct technique. That’s why I’m starting panning classes to show people how to do it properly.”
Cardwell’s retail general manager, Paul Carmichael said: “We’ve been astounded at the reaction from people after the first nugget of gold was seen glinting in the sunshine at the bottom of our stream.
“Our visitor numbers have soared and there are always people peering into the water looking for a nugget or two.
“We took a management decision that although we technically own the mineral rights to the stream, if anyone finds a gold nugget, they can keep it.”