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What a pleasure it has been to populate this section of the website. Lochgoilhead and the Cowal Peninsula is simply sensational for walking. These are the ones that you may well stumble across when you are here, but with a bit of knowledge before you arrive you can plan in advance. These walks are to give you a flavour of what to expect, even to inspire.

16 - NEW - Carrick Castle to Ardentinny – Linear Walk - Easy - Added January 2018

 

Carrick Castle to Ardentinny Path – Linear Walk – Time: 1.5 hrs Footwear: Walking shoes Grade: Easy

I have been doing this walk for years. Not sure why it’s taken so long for me to add it to the list. Perhaps I just wanted to keep it to myself.

The walk may be titled Carrick Castle to Ardentinny, but for this listing I am only doing the section from Carrick Castle up to where the path meets the forestry road.

No disrespect to our neighbours in Ardentinny, but in my opinion this section offers the best viewpoints. At a strolling pace taking 1.5 hours, it is a walk that you can fit in to most days.

Parking
By the tenement building opposite the castle in the village.

The walk
Follow the road keeping the loch on your left.

You come to a marker sign post at the entrance to Ardnahein Farm. The road ends and the path begins. The marker: Ardentinny – 4  miles. It’s pointing in the right direction, but it is not 4 miles. If you want to go the whole way I would say it is closer to 7 miles.

The path at this point is still close to the shores of Loch Goil before it starts to climb the hill through the woods. Crossing streams, twisting-and-turning and with occasional views through the trees, this is a pleasure to walk. At one point the view is overlooking where Loch Goil meets Loch Long, over to Portincaple and up Loch Long.

Bring your binoculars. Depending of the time of year you can see gannets, eider ducks, mergansers and dippers on and by the water, as well as woodland birds.

When you arrive at the forestry road, turn around and head back to Carrick Castle enjoying the view north up Loch Goil as far as Lochgoilhead village in the distance.

A sample of what to expect

Optional extra

Go the whole way to Ardentinny. Following the forestry road is different than the woodland path you have just done, but the views keep changing and it still makes or a good day out. If you are arranging a lift at the other end, the path brings you out at the Ardentinny Beach car park.

 

1 - Dun na Cuaich overlooking Inveraray - Steep in parts

Dun na Cuaich on the Argyll Estate – Time: 1hr 30min Footwear: Shoes Grade: Steep in parts

If you spend any time in Inveraray, at some point your eye will catch the silhouette of a tower atop a hill on the Argyll Estate. This is Dun na Cuaich, and if you make the effort to walk up to it, the views over Invereray and down Loch Fyne are well worth the effort. Allow for 2 hours.

What is it?

Built in 1748, you would be tempted to call it a watch tower, but it’s purpose is purely decorative. Sitting at 248 metres (813 feet) it is actually built at the edge of the hill and not on the top. That way, when viewed from the town, it stands out against the sky. Clever.

Parking

You start at the car park for Invereray Castle. The car park is closed in the winter. There is alternative parking in the town. The extra walk along the driveway to the castle is very pleasant and will warm you up for the climb.

The wonderful view from the top | © lochgoilheadholidays.com

The route is well sign posted from the castle. You head off along a straight estate road and over a bridge. The markers then take you off through the woods on the right.

Carry on across a small field and through a gate on to a forestry access road/path.  It is a steady climb. Keep to the right. You will eventually clear the trees as you near the zig-zag path at the top.

From your lofty position you look down to Inveraray Castle, beyond to Inveraray and on down Loch Fyne. Inveraray is considered on of the best examples of an 18th-century new town in Scotland.

All the better if you remember to bring binoculars.

Return down the same route to the Castle.

2 - Newton Hill Walk – Glen Fyne – for views over the head of Loch Fyne - Muscle-cruncher


Newton Hill Walk  – Glen Fyne – for views over the head of Loch Fyne

Time: 3-4 hrs    Footwear: Boots    Grade: A muscle-cruncher

Turn off the A83 at the signs for Fyne Ales at the head of Loch Fyne and follow the sign for the Walkers Car Park.

If you like to get the steep bit done first, start this walk following the single track road past the Fyne Ales Brewery. 40 minutes of pleasant walking along the glen access road with views of the path up Newton Hill getting closer.

Turn off the road at The Mark Hydro Sign and walk along to the turbine house. The route is obvious. Start climbing. 30 minutes straight up. This is steep – and the track is rough, but your reward is plenty of stops as you gain the height when turning to take in the view of the glen and Loch Fyne.

This can be a linear walk. If it is views you are here for then you can turn around at the top and head back the way you came. If you are out for a longer walk then carry on for another 30 minutes and you will eventually come to the junction where the path heading down the other side of the glen meets this path. This part of the walk takes you deep into the hills above Glen Fyne.

Head back down the gentler gradient, walk through the yards of Bonnar Sand & Gravel you come to the Clachan Power Station. You are close to the car park where you began.

There are a number of options with this walk – 1) enjoy the walk along Glen Fyne 2) carry on up Newton Hill for the views and the challenge 3) do the whole circuit. They are all good.

Tips:

3 - Ardkinglas – Gardens & Trail - Easy

Ardkinglas – Gardens & Trail

Two options to explore the wonderful Ardkinglas Estate. You can pay to visit the Ardkinglas Gardens which has a Gruffalo Trail, ideal for the youngsters and includes Britains tallest tree – or carry on and follow the way-marked Ardkinglas Trail. You walk through woodland and have viewpoints over Loch Fyne. There is much to see and enjoy on a visit to this beautiful area.

Wildlife in the Woodland Gardens

Ardkinglas Woodland Gardens is home to a wide variety of native wildlife which can be regularly seen on walks through the Gardens and the wider estate. A wide variety of bird life and red squirrels are common. Other mammals are present on the Estate including Red and Roe Deer, Pine Marten, Badger and the elusive Otter. A walk along the shores of Loch Fyne may give sightings of seals, occasionally porpoises and basking sharks in summer, swans, herons, and numerous sea birds.

There is lots of information on their website covering the gardens, tours of the house and the wildlife you can hope to see.

4 - Beinn an Lochain from the Rest and Be Thankful - Knee Trembler


Beinn an Lochain from the Rest and Be Thankful – Time: 3.5 to 4 hours Distance: 4.5miles Footwear: Boots Grade: Knee Trembler

The highest peak on the Cowal Peninsula

A steep trek with spectacular views.  Beinn an Lochain means “Hill of the small lake”.

This walk does not leave from Lochgoilhead, but is very easily accessed from just off the Rest and Be Thankful about 6 miles from the village.  Beinn an Lochain is a major mountain at 900m and in fact was originally graded as a Munro.  Although it is now ‘just’ one of the tallest Corbetts it is to be treated with respect (particularly in winter) and you will need proper footware, waterproofs and some form of navigational aid (Ordnance Survey map or GPS).  There is a decent path all the way although there are a few bits where you need to scramble and it may be very wet underfoot.  One of the charms of this walk is that (like on Beinn Donich) you get a ‘free 250m start’ by beginning on the Rest and not at loch level, so your actual ascent is only just over 700m!

The Route

Although there are a few ways to tackle this peak, the easiest way is to park at a layby on A83 about half way between the car park at the top of the Rest and Butter Bridge (turn left on to the main road if coming from Lochgoilhead).  Cross the small stream to join a path which may be very wet at this point.

From here the path basically leads up all the way to the summit.  It is pretty steep and rocky with a few places where you will need your hands free to scramble.  There are some great views down to the road, which very soon looks a long way away, over to Beinn Ime (the highest of the Arrochar Alps) in one direction and to Loch Fyne and Inverary in the other.

For quite a way you will not see the actual top of Beinn an Lochain, but eventually you will come to a short descent leading to a rocky ridge, and from here you can see the summit above you.  The last bit looks rockier and steeper than it actually is, but you need to take care as there are drops to either side.  One more push takes you to the grassy top marked with a small cairn.  There are great views to Loch Fyne from here, and it is also worth the brief walk to the second summit from where you can see Beinn Donich, the Brack and Lochgoilhead in the far distance.

Although there are other ways to descend, by far the easiest is to retrace your steps.  If you are lucky, the coffee stall will be open in the Rest and be Thankful carpark from where there are also nice views down Glen Croe.

Thank you to Marion and Rory McCune for sharing the pictures and text for this walk.

5 - Ben Donich – above Lochgoilhead - Challenging

Ben Donich – above Lochgoilhead – Time: 2hr Distance: 6km Footwear: Walking boots Grade: Challenging

Ben Donich, at 2,778 ft / 846m, towers over the village of Lochgoilhead. It makes for a wonderful hill walk best accessed via a good hill path, with white marker posts, from the Hill Access car park towards the Rest and be Thankful.

This is a hill walk. It demands respect. You will need a map. There is a bit of a scramble section towards the summit where you need to be careful but apart from that the path is easy to follow.

The views from the top are of the Arrochar Alps, down Loch Goil to the Clyde Estuary and west towards the unmistakable Paps of Jura in the Inner Hebrides. Wonderful. Return the same way being careful to keep to the same path.

It is possible to take the bus from the village to the car park, hike to the summit and then carry on down (be warned, there is no path and you have to be careful of the route) to the village, thereby making this a linear walk.

6 - Glen Loin Loop and Sloy Dam from Arrochar - Moderate

Glen Loin Loop and Sloy Dam from Arrochar – Moderate

At 11 miles long for the circuit, and that is before you factor in the Sloy Dam detour, this is hardly a walk in the park. The terrain is not difficult as it is on good paths and tarmac roads. This is a good hike into some wonderful scenery to the glens and mountains north of Arrochar.

Parking
The two popular car parks at the head of the loch are Arrochar and Succoth. Use the Arrochar car park opposite the petrol station. A bargain at £1 for the day.

The walk
Cross the A83 and you come to the road bridge over the river. Take the path on the left BEFORE you come to the river.

The first part of this walk follows the route of The Cowal Way and the Three Lochs Way in the direction of Inveruglas at Loch Lomond.

You are soon in woodland. Keep your eyes open for Red Squirrels and deer. The path eventually clears the woodlands and you are in an open glen with mountains straight ahead and on both sides. A map will help you pick out the surrounding peaks of Ben Vorlich, A Chrois and Ben Vane. From the top of this part of the route you have a pleasant walk down to the road junction where the signpost directs on around the Glen Loin Loop or over to Inveruglas.

Follow the sign for the Loop.

Sloy Dam – Optional
Loch Sloy dam can be seen further up the glen. The dam is the reason there are so many electricity pylons in the area.

You are now on tarmac which is the access road to the dam. If you have the time, you can consider walking up to the dam. From the foot of the dam we scrambled up to see Loch Sloy. It was a good place to sit, enjoy a snack, watch for eagles and take in the views.

This diversion will add about an hour to the walk.

Coiregrograin
This next section is one of my favourites. You take a long climb on the east side of Coiregrograin. Impressive mountain scenery with views of up the glen to the Munros of Beinn Narnain and Beinn Ime. The highest part is by a sluice gate below a waterfall.

Just before you come to a small dam, follow a rough track dipping down to a burn and climb up to the join the better track. Turn left and follow a good path descending the far side of Coiregrogain. There are views of the summit of Ben Vane as you head into a denser section of forest

Clearing the forest you find yourself high above the village of Succoth. Good view over the head of Loch Long to Arrochar. Keep on the main path and zig-zag down to the village. You will see some rough paths leading down through the forest – if you are so inclined, take these for a quicker descent.

On reaching the houses, walk to the main road, or there is a way through the village to a path following the river which brings you to the A83. Cross the road and take the footbridge back to the car park.

Tips:

  • The paths are all good and the route is well marked – but it will be all the more enjoyable if you can identify what you are seeing. Take a good map. Binoculars are handy. This should be eagle country.
  • I’ve done this walk in all seasons. In the winter, if you don’t want to get walk in snow on the hills, this glen walk is ideal for being deep in the mountains while still being on good paths.
  • The Village Inn – when you leave the car park, turn right. Less than 5 minutes away (down the Helensburgh road) you come to The Village Inn. If the weather is good,  they have a beer garden with views of the Cobbler. If you prefer to be indoors, they have a cosy bar and dining rooms. Warm up by the open fire. This is the perfect place to relax after your hike. Highly recommended.

7 - Cnoc Coinnich from Lochgoilhead – Scotland’s newest Corbett - Muscle Cruncher

Cnoc Coinnich from Lochgoilhead – Scotland’s newest Corbett

Time: 5hrs    Distance: Long way    Footwear: Boots    Grade: Muscle Cruncher

This mountain has been re-measured and it was found to be 8ft higher than shown on the maps, taking it in to the Corbett category. Corbetts are mountains in Scotland between 2500 and 3000 feet high, with at least 500 feet of descent on all sides. To learn more about how this re-classification came about go to: Scotland’s newest Corbett.

With it’s more well known peaks in the Arrochar Alps getting most of the foot-fall, Cnoc Coinnich is expected to be a bit busier now with the walkers aiming to complete the full list of Corbetts. And indeed it is so, the only people I met on the 5 hour trek were a couple from England who stopped to do this peak en-route to the Outer Hebrides.

 

You will not see the summit of this hill from Lochgoilhead village. It is tucked away behind The Steeple. If you follow the route I am giving you here you will not see the mountain until you near the top of Coilessan glen.

This is a major walk and you will needs boots, walking poles and the Ordnance Survey Map. Much of this walk has no path.

The route

Start from the village car park and follow the Cowal Way markers towards the Donich Falls. The falls will be on your left. Follow on over the bridge and follow the Cowal Way sign for Coilessan glen.

Much of the climb up through the forest is on a muddy and eroded path. You clear the forest at a style over the fence, and from then on you follow the white maker poles climbing to the highest part of Coilessan glen. This is easier walking. The views start to open up and the slog up through the mud and forest starts to feel worth it.

At the top of the glen you have reached this point you will see The Brack (787m) slightly to your left and the summit of Cnoc Coinnich on your right.

If there is a path up Cnoc Coinnich from this point, I couldn’t see one. It is a case of picking a route and getting up as best you can.There are a couple of blind summits. The going underfoot is not too bad on this stretch, and if you are used to hills. it is quite an easy hike.

I was up on a beautiful August day. It was so hot the views were hazy. but as expected, the whole range of the Arrochar Alps, sweeping round to the head of Loch Long and Arrochar, made for wonderful views.

Cnoc Coinnich is 762.5m (2,505ft) high and as you started at the loch side car park – you climb every foot of it.

Probably the easiest way back would have been to go the way I had come. Back down to Coilessan glen and re-join the Cowal Way. I wanted to avoid the muddy path down through the trees so I chose to plot a route down from the summit towards Steeple Hill above Lochgoilhead and then down to the Cowal Way.

This way tuned out to be more difficult than coming up. Once you get down off the summit you are in remote country, a real wilderness feel about it. Parts were steep, parts were boggy and wet, and I really had to concentrate on every step through the tussocks of grass so as not to disappear down an unseen crack. Again, no paths. Hard work. Next time I would probably go back the way I went up.

A hike up Cnoc Coinnich in good weather is a great day out. There are many easier walks in the area – this is something a little bit more challenging.

8 - Pole Straights – for an alternative doggie walk
 - Easy


Pole Straights – for an alternative doggie walk
 – T
ime: 30min   Distance: 2.2km    Footwear: Normal    Grade: Easy

Known locally as the ‘D Road’, (the clue is in the map) as you drive along the B838 to or from the village you come section called Pole Straights. At the Lochgoilhead end turn off into the entrance for a forestry road.  An easy walk to miss… until now.

A popular flat doggie walk for villagers in the know. Park at the entrance to the forestry road where there is a sign showing the distance round the whole of the Ardgoil Peninsula.

Follow the flat forestry road as it runs parallel to the main road. The view from the walk is to the high peaks at the head of glen.

9 - Donich Circular Walk – Lochgoilhead for the impressive Donich Falls - Moderate

Donich Circular Walk – Lochgoilhead for the impressive Donich Falls

Time: 1hr    Distance: 4km    Footwear: Walking Shoes    Grade:Moderate

Start at the village car park or the Arboretum. Some tarmac, but mostly paths.

Start walking up towards The Steeple Hill and you will come to a junction. Take the route uphill with the forest on your left and Steeple Hill on your right. Tip: This is an easier walk first time going anti-clockwise.

Depending on how wet its been, you may well hear the Donich Falls before you see them. Follow the path round towards the falls and as you climb there is a picnic table. Carry on and you will head back in the direction of the village. There is a steep downhill part of the path (hence the tip) that brings you out on to a forestry road which takes you back to the Arboretum and village.

The hills on this walk make it a bit more of a stamina challenge – but well worth it.

Note

A Hydro Scheme is  being build to harness the power of the Donich Falls. Completion date for the work is mid-September 2016.  This involves laying pipes down the section back to the village and hooking up to a new turbine station  (anti-clockwise direction). The flow of the waterfall is not supposed to be noticeable. The developers are contracted to return the path in a good state. The walk remains open during this time but you may be best to head up to falls and then tun around and come down the same way. This is still a worthwhile walk.

10 - Inverlounin Road – Lochgoilhead – to the shores of Loch Goil - Easy

Inverlounin Road – Lochgoilhead – to the shores of Loch Goil

Time: 1hr    Distance: 4km    Footwear: Normal    Grade: Easy

Don’t be put off by the Private Road sign – this is an easy and popular walk following the west shore of Loch Goil. Start at the village car park, and keeping the loch on your right, walk down past the jetty to the beginning of Inverlounin Road.

It’s a tarmac road all the way, but being primarily for access to the houses there is very little traffic so it makes for a pleasant stroll for families with children, buggies and dogs.

Look out for the original Victorian Villas built as holiday homes by well to-do Glasgow merchants. Loch Goil, being a sea loch, made it easy travelling from the Firth of Clyde and up Loch Long. As you reach the far end the views open up down the loch to Carrick Castle and you have access to the shoreline.

11 - Steeple Hill – above Lochgoilhead - Moderate

Steeple Hill – above Lochgoilhead – Time: 1hr Distance: 4km Footwear: Walking boots Grade: Moderate

Sitting 1,236ft above the village, Steeple Hill is well worth the effort to climb.

Don’t be fooled – this hill looks easier than it is.

For one third of the walk up there is a path, and then you scramble over the hillside to reach the top. I have shown a circular route, although you can go up and down the same way if you prefer. For the first time the easier route is to take the good path up towards the Donich Falls. Before you get to the style at the forest go right and work your way up to the top. There is a faint path in parts, but you’ll probably end up picking your own route.

From the top the whole of the head of the loch and the village lies below your feet. What a place to catch your breath. It can be wet underfoot and you have to take care coming down.

Consider this once you have huffed-and-puffed your way to the top: There is an annual hill race with what must be an almost unbeatable records of 20mins 23secs up and down. Much better to take your time and take in the views

12 - Drimsynie Circular Walk – Lochgoilhead - Easy

Drimsynie Circular Walk – Lochgoilhead

Time: 1hr    Distance: 3.86km    Footwear: Walking shoes    Grade: Easy

If you are staying on the Drimsynie Estate, or in the village, this marked trail is an ideal introduction to the walks in the area.

Start at the Drimsynie House Hotel & Leisure Centre car park and look out of the signs. They can be a little tricky to follow when going through the caravan park – but keep your eyes on the hill path and head in that direction.

This circular walk takes you up above the holiday park, and for very little effort, rewards with wonderful views across to the village and down the loch. The Estate have put in landmark display signs at various points so you can name the mountains and the main features. There is also a picnic table towards the highest point.

Carry on round to Corrow Farm and down to the road. After a short walk you are directed off the road to finish the walk back through the chalet and caravan park.

A good walk for the dog, and well within most people’s stamina level.

13 - Two Gates Circuit – above Loch Goil - Steep in parts

Two Gates Circuit – above Loch Goil – Time: 2 hr Footwear: Sturdy shoes Grade: Steep in parts

This is my name for the walk. Once you’ve done it you’ll understand why.

Clockwise or anti-clockwise?

I prefer this walk anti-clockwise. For the first time I suggest you do it clockwise as it is easier to navigate. There are no signs at an important junction. You are less likely to make a navigation mistake if you do this in the direction I am suggesting.

The Dukes Path

Leave the village car park and take the road to the left of the Post Office. This is the start of the Cowal Way from the village. Head through the gate and up to the forestry road. Turn right and follow the road as you gain height above the loch. Already the views down over the village are worth it. Carry on through the gate and eventually you come to the first junction.

Follow the sign for Corran Lochan and climb to the higher part of the Dukes Path.

The path is now narrower and rougher than the forestry road, but it is still good walking. You walk through a lovely forest section before it opens up to a cleared area with views over Loch Goil. The path along this section rises-and-falls until you come to two gates – hence the name of this walk.

Go through the first gate and you will see a narrow path on your right going downhill. Not signposted. Follow this path, it is more of a track than a path, all the way down until it meets up with the forestry road at the lower section. Please note – It is eroded in parts due to water damage. You have to be careful as some parts can be muddy, and if it is wet it can be slippy. A walking stick helps. When you reach the bottom you’ll see that there is no sign pointing to this track – easy to miss if you were coming the other direction. I don’t want to put you off – this walk is one of my favourites because of this section, but you are better being aware of it.

I prefer to climb up this track rather than go down it. It is a steep hike, a great test of your stamina, but I find it easier going uphill than downhill. Personal preference.

Turn right at the bottom of the path and walk until you come to the junction. A sign directs you down to Lochgoilhead through another nice forest section. You leave the path at Inverlounin Road and walk along the tarmac until you reach the car park.

14 - Lochan nan Cnaimh – above Loch Goil - Moderate

Lochan nan Cnaimh – above Loch Goil -Time: 4hr Distance: 9km Footwear: Walking boots Grade: Moderate

Starting at Lettermay/Corrow people park in a lay-by rather than a recognised parking spot.

Follow the markers for the Cowal Way. Forest extraction is going on in the area and the plus side is the views are opening up – and what views. The sweep of Beinn Bheula, the waterfall on the Cowal Way and Beinn Lochain are really impressive. DO NOT take a new forest road on the left – it is a dead-end. Keep walking down towards a river and turn left there. Eventually the road turns in a path through the forest. Follow that until you come to a steam coming down the hill. Climb through the trees by the stream and you will come out into the open with the Lochan laid out before you.

Wild, remote and nestled between the hills. A wonderful spot. Seemingly there is free fishing on the lochan.

15 - Cormonachan Woodlands Squirrel Walk – above Loch Goil – Easy

Cormonachan Woodlands Squirrel Walk – above Loch Goil – 2.5km

A walk for all the family.

Take the road from Lochgoilhead to Carrick Castle. About half way you will come to a small car park area (being enlarged from May 2017) by a mast.

Introduction from their website:

The Cormonachan Woodlands are 58.9 ha of ancient Atlantic oak & hazel woodlands and have the status of being Ancient Semi Natural Woodlands (ASNW) being preserved for Education, Conservation and Recreation, with oaks of 300 years old or more and with areas of old coppiced hazel probably from around 100 years ago.  Much of the area had been under planted with Sitka Spruce by Forest Enterprise in the past.  Many of those areas were felled in the late nineties and later in 2006 and will continue to be in 2017. New planting of oaks, rowan, hazel and Scots pine has taken place. Find out more.

The Squirrel Walk

There are a number of marked walking trails – the shortest being a Squirrel Walk at 2.5km.

The organisers and volunteers of The Cormonachan Woodlands Association have to be applauded on the work they have put in, adding benches at viewpoints, upgrading the path, creating information boards and more. Educational and fun. Ideal for families.

This is a circular walk on the hillside. There is a bit of climbing on good paths along with some longer flatter sections.

On the route you will come to Jan’s Hut (image above) which has information boards and a large window with views over the loch.

The path junctions have marker arrows leading off to longer walks. If you have the time be sure to come back and explore further.

The Cormonachan Woodlands Association Website. 

Support the Association in it’s good work. Membership information is available on their website.

16 - Carrick Castle – Circular Walk - Moderate

 

Carrick Castle – Circular Walk – Time: 1.5 hrs Footwear: Walking shoes Grade: Moderate

Many thanks to  the Carrick Castle Estate for putting in a wooden footbridge that crosses Carrick Burn, up behind the Scottish Water facility. The bridge allows for a new circular walk linking the tracks to the north and south of the burn.

This walk takes you up on to the hillside, and with no forest or woods to hike through, the views are wonderful – start to finish.

This is a most pleasant, no too demanding, but highly rewarding walk above Carrick Castle village and Loch Goil.

Parking
By the tenement building opposite the castle in the village.

The walk
I suggest you start by walking along the road you arrived on along by the shore side. Already the views looking north up Loch Goil are worth getting the camera out for.

Towards the entrance of the village there is an access road on your left – just passed the Rowanbank Guest House. Follow this nearly to the end and you will see the farm gate with Footpath sign.This gate is locked. You will have to climb over to start the walk up the hill.

Keep walking up the hill, ignore the track off to the right, until you come to a turn-off on your left.

Optional extra
At this point you may be tempted to carry straight on as the track takes you up and towards the foot on an impressive range of steep mountains. You come to a dead end, but it is worth doing this if only for the scenery. The mountain stream is probably too wide at this part to ford so best to head back the way you came.

Back on the circular walk
When you come back to the first junction you will see the wooden footbridge below you. Easy to navigate. The track is a steady climb up the hill over the stream, and the views just get better and better. When you reach the highest part of this walk you can see almost the whole length of Loch Goil to the entrance of Loch Long. Quite a view.

Follow the track as it descends back to the village bringing you out at the car park where you started.

I’ve put this walk at 1.5 hours but if that was allowing for lots of picture and viewing stops. On a beautiful day, this is not a walk to be rushed.

Tips:

  • The going underfoot is good the whole way. The Carrick Estate have plans to put in way-markers but at this time (late 2016) you have to find your own way. The paths are clear and easy to navigate.
  • Take your binoculars. Bird life – there are a number of bushes towards the start of the trail. On a summer walk up this path there was a lot of bird life around this area, including: whitethroats, willow warblers, bullfinches, goldfinches. Certainly buzzards, but always worth looking out for eagles as you head higher on the track.
  • There are a number of other trails just waiting to be explored off this circular route. You could spend hours up there going higher in to the mountains  Plenty of walking options.

Deer stalking
There are plans to develop deer stalking on the Estate. When that happens they will post information on their website. The stag stalking season is 1st July to 20th October, but with most stalking from August onwards. Check first and plan your route to minimise the chance of disturbing stalking, in line with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

17 - Beinn Mhor, via Glen Massan - to the top of Cowal - Steep in parts

Time: 4-5 hrs Footwear: Boots Grade: Steep in parts

I start and finish this walk at the Benmore Gardens Cafe – but of course you can head straight to Glen Massen.

Road access

Take the A815 towards Dunoon. Not far past the Cot House Services there is a road sign for Glen Massen.

Follow the single track road up past the side of Benmore Gardens. It’s not long before you are deep in to this beautiful glen – it feels so remote it is hard to believe you are just 10 minutes from Dunoon.

Keep driving until you come to a small bridge over the river, on your left. There is space to park your car. This is just before the ‘No unauthorised traffic’ post.

Start walking along the road. This is a gentle warm up before the climb. It must be about 2 miles before you come to a sheep fank and a track on the right leading to a zig-zag route up the hill. This is the start of the ascent. There is a small marker on a pole – but it is easy to miss. What you can’t miss – is the hill.

The climb

The walk the whole way is straightforward. You start on a good forestry path which gradually gets steeper the higher you go. Take time to enjoy the views down over the glen.

As you clear the trees the path turns in to a track and is boggy in parts. A walking stick(s) makes this section easier on the way down. Follow the track in a clock-wise arc as it climbs towards the summit. The path disappears towards the top, but as as long as you are not in cloud you can see where you are going.

At 720m Beinn Mhor is the highest hill in a wide area. There are excellent views south over the Holy Loch towards Dunoon, as well as the fjord type Loch Striven, which you can see on the way up.

You return following the same route.

Tips:

I’ve done this walk in summer and winter. If there is snow you need to have the proper footwear. At 4-5 hours this is a serious walk. Always check the weather – we started off with high cloud cover but by the time we were near the top the cloud had hidden the summit. There are no route markers up there so unless you can navigate, be prepared to abort. Keep safe.

Having said that, this is a great hill walk combining a nice drive up Glen Massen, a pleasant walk to the start of the climb and then rewarding views as you clear the trees and walk to the peak.

Benmore Cafe – treat yourself to a hot drink and a home made scone or cake. The perfect way to end a day on the hills.

18 - Puck’s Glen Gorge Walk – Enter another world - Steep in parts

Puck’s Glen Gorge Walk – Enter another world -Time: 2hr Distance: 2.8km Footwear: Walking shoes or boots Grade: Strenuous

Puck’s Glen Gorge Walk, managed by the Forestry Commission, makes for an ideal short walk in Argyll. It  packs a lot into just under 2 miles. Quite unlike anything else you will find in the area.

Head for the parking spot off the A815 Dunoon to Strachur road, south of Benmore Botanic Gardens.

There are plenty of reviews of the walk on the internet. These are my thoughts on it.

A great trip out for a family with energetic children. The Forestry Commission, has posted Puck information points around the walk. Children will enjoy looking out for these snippets of information which will tell them about what they are seeing, as well asking them to look out, or listen, for things in the forest.

Tip – I recommend doing the walk UP the gorge rather than down it. The path can be rough, narrow and steep in places. There are stairs and bridges – and it is always wet. I think it makes for a better walk climbing and seeing the waterfalls, moss and lichen covered slopes, and trees from that direction. Coming down is not only hard on the knees, you really have to watch your step. None of that is meant to put you off – it all adds to the fun of the place.

There is a map and information board at the car park. Well worth reading before heading off. 

The Puck’s Glen Gorge Walk

 Walk along an access road for a few hundred yards until you come to the sign for the Gorge Walk. Step off the road and you are into a different world. Even on the brightest of days the forest canopy keeps the gorge moist and shaded. To me, there is something pretty special about the dark atmosphere. Great fun to explore.

The path twists and turns its way following the route of the water. When you get to the top of the gorge there is a sign-post with a number of options. I prefer to walk a short distance to the right and take a path (not sign-posted) which is a lovely woodland walk heading back down to the car park. This is a pleasant way to finish the loop.


Info from the Forestry Commission website:

The cool, moist environment here is similar to what you’d find in the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest in Canada and the USA. The range of tree species is similar too, because seeds collected there in the 1800s were planted here. After 150 years of growth and decay the forest eco system in Puck’s Glen is wonderfully diverse and vibrant. It’s the closest thing to a temperate rain forest this side of the Atlantic.

Practical tips:

      • SatNav: PA23 8QT is the nearest postcode
      • The nearest place for a cup of tea is the Benmore Garden Café. Excellent home baking and a nice place to relax after the walk.
      • Even if you are not a mad keen gardener, Benmore Botanic Garden is well worth a visit.

18 - The Benmore Trilogy – Benmore - Puck's Glen - Kilmun - Moderate

A different format on this listing.

Wild About Argyll have produced an excellent .pdf for this walk.

View it: THE BENMORE TRILOGY