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Cowal Way

Cowal Way ~ 57 miles (90 km) ~ 5 days' walking

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The Cowal Way is one of Scotland’s most scenic routes.  Running the length of the Cowal Peninsula over 90 km from Portavadie in the southwest to Inveruglas on the main A82  the Way winds through the communities of Tighnabruaich, Glendaruel, Strachur, Lochgoilhead and Arrochar on existing footpaths, forestry tracks, hillsides, quiet roads and traditional rights of way.

Passing through the wonderful Argyll landscape, the route offers forests and glens, waterfalls and sea-lochs with abundant wildlife, including grey seals, porpoises, otters, and many seabirds including oystercatchers, eider ducks, herons, cormorants, gannets, fulmars and gulls.

The woodland and field areas of the route are home to foxes, badgers, barn owls, roe deer and our famous native red squirrel. The open hillsides and moorlands of the northern sections of the walk offer ideal habitat for the iconic golden eagle although Cowal has only four pairs of these magnificent birds.

There is also an abundance of natural, scenic, historical and cultural heritage available to see on the Cowal Way:

Asgog Castle – now a ruin, this castle was originally built in the 15th century.

Millhouse Powder Mill – gunpowder was manufactured here between 1839 to 1921.

Kilmodan Church – built in 1783, the graveyard has a fine selection of 14th/15th century carved stones.

Dunans Castle – the impressive ruins of Dunans Castle are located at the head of Glendaruel.

Strachur Smiddy – now a converted museum/craft shop, the first recorded reference was in 1791.

Struth Ban Falls – between Strachur and Lochgoilhead the falls are truly a wonder of nature.

Drimsynie House – former home of James Neilson, Glasgow engineer who patented the blast furnace.

The Cobbler Mountain – standing at 2,890 feet / 881m, this natural feature provides spectacular views over the Argyll countryside.

Cowal is part of “Argyll and the Islands” region, which is in the south-west of the Scottish Highlands. Argyll and the Islands actually offer more coastline than the country of France!  Argyll has a population density of only 13 inhabitants per square kilometre, with a population of only around 20,000 people, with the majority living in the coastal town of Dunoon.

The Cowal Way Official App is free and available to download and use offline on both on iPhone and Android formats.

There are excellent public transport links to both Glasgow and Edinburgh, which are only 2 hours from Glasgow or 3 hours away. From Inveruglas a ferry across the loch enables a link with the West Highland Way, and when added to the similar ferry link at Portavadie for Tarbert and the Kintyre Way, creates epic walk across Scotland.

Key Symbols

Route Terrain
Moderate to Strenuous

Route Signposting
Waymarked

Navigational Skills
Moderate

Useful Info Enquiry Form

Cowal Way ~ 57 miles (90 km) ~ 5 days' walking

Click each day to expand.

Arrive Portavadie

Arrive in Portavadie by public transport from either Dunoon (by bus) or Tarbert (by ferry) and depending on time, either overnight here or begin your first day walking the short distance to Tighnabruaich. If you arrive in Tarbert too late for the ferry crossing on the same day, it is possible to overnight in the town and commence your walk by first taking a ferry over Loch Fyne the following morning.

Portavadie to Tighnabruaich (6 miles / 10 km)

The Cowal Way begins on mainly forest track, paths or quiet road, easy undulating track, with a gentle climb to 85m over the first 2km. This is a fairly undemanding section, offering excellent views of both Loch Fyne and the Kyles of Bute. Points of particular interest along this section include the dramatic ruins of Asgog Castle, the remains of a gunpowder mill, and a World War II tank landing slip.

Tighnabruaich to Glendaruel (11 miles / 18 km)

The majority of this section is easy walking on quiet public and private roads, broken up by a more challenging section of shoreline and woodland. This middle section has been recently upgraded to include new wooden walkways and steps, but should not be attempted during a particularly high tide. (Check out the tide details and all information on the Cowal Way Official App). Highlights of this stretch of the walk include a Telford bridge, Kilmodan Church and its historic carved stones, and the Lucknow Gates which are said to commemorate the 1857 Siege of Lucknow, India.

Glendaruel to Strachur (16 miles / 26 km)

The third section of the Cowal Way continues up Glendaruel before joining tracks up by the Garvie Burn over open moorland and through forestry plantations up Strath nan Lub. The route then descends into Glen Branter with some attractive waterfalls before finally a quiet back road leads on to Strachur. This section is fairly easy under-foot, mainly following well maintained forest tracks and offering good views all around.

Strachur to Lochgoilhead (9 miles / 14 km)

This stage of the Way crosses open moorland, passing a peaceful loch and waterfalls before descending through forestry and then along a pleasant coastal road to Lochgoilhead. In places the path is indistinct and at times boggy however it is waymarked for assistance. Some challenging uphill terrain, small streams and several stiles are encountered however reward come in the form of some fantastic scenery, most notably the dramatic views of the Sruth Ban Falls.

Lochgoilhead to Inveruglas (15 miles / 24 km)

This final section of the Cowal Way includes the highest climb of the route at almost 500m rewarded in clear weather by wonderful mountain views over the Luss Hills, Ben Lomond, Ben Bheula and the Brack. This is followed by scenic walking alongside Loch Long and Loch Lomond. This stage can also be broken up by an overnight stay at Arrochar ( 9 miles / 14.5 km) allowing the opportunity of an easier day’s walking or alternatively climb the famous Cobbler before continuing on to Inveruglas. Forest tracks prevail for much of the way, with a steep ascent on a rough path in the forest. The highest section of the route has only a very faint and boggy path - wooden posts mark part of this section across the hilltop.

Fixed Price - £445 per person

Single supplement - £205

Included

  • 6 nights' accommodation for 2 people sharing in quality B&Bs, guest houses, inns and hotels
  • Breakfast
  • Door to door baggage transfer to each stage - maximum 18 kg per bag
  • Rucksack Readers Guide Book
  • Location details for each accommodation
  • Travel information to the start and from the finish of the walk
  • Suggested equipment list
  • Emergency support

Not Included

  • Evening meals, packed lunches and drinks
  • Travel insurance

Customise My Walk

 

The final day's walking can be broken up by an overnight stay at Arrochar ( 9miles / 14.5km ) allowing the opportunity of an easier day’s walking or alternatively climb the famous Cobbler before continuing on to Inveruglas. The Cowal Way can be walked in either direction with the Portavadie end offering the option of an overnight start or end in Tarbert on the Kintyre Peninsula allowing the thrill of crossing magnificent Loch Fyne by ferry. If you would like to stay an extra night at any point on the route, please let us know in the Comments section of the Enquiry Form.

Stages and Distances (Optional extra stages shown in brackets)
Portavadie
6 miles / 10 km
Tighnabruaich
11 miles / 18 km
Glendaruel
16 miles / 26 km
Strachur
9 miles / 14 km
Lochgoilhead
9 miles / 14 km
(Arrochar)
6 miles / 10 km
Inveruglas


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