7 Winter Walks
Argyll & the Isles
The woodlands of Argyll & The Isles are fabulous places to explore, with forest trails leading to thundering waterfalls, glorious viewpoints and archaeological features. And as the temperature dips, these forests are transformed into winter wonderlands, with autumnal hues making way for stunning frosty landscapes that sparkle in the clear winter light. There’s plenty of woodland wildlife to spot in the woods too, from red squirrels to soaring eagles. Look out for animal tracks in the snow (or mud!). So instead of getting cabin fever this festive season, why not grab your boots, wrap up warm and take a stroll through some of Argyll & the Isles popular woodland walks!
You’ll find Puck’s Glen just outside Dunoon on the Cowal peninsula. It’s a magical woodland world, with towering Douglas firs and tumbling waterfalls, which look particularly dramatic at this time of year. Pucks Glen Gorge Trail makes its way along a Victorian walkway through a rocky gorge. Keep an eye out and you might just spot Ghillie Dhu and some of the fantastic viewpoints the trail has to offer. A forest road also connects with Kilmun Arboretum in the south and Loch Eck in the north. All these places are part of the Argyll Forest Park, which has eight more fabulous forests to discover this winter. Make sure to bring along your four-legged friends to enjoy the walks with you!
Local Man with his dogs in Pucks Glen, Credit: Pauline Guillouzic
Ardkinglas Woodland Gardens sits at the head of Loch Fyne in Cairndow surrounded by hills. This fabulous woodland garden with its glorious mountainside setting is a great place to walk and explore in winter. It’s open all year round, with a huge collection of trees and shrubs including the “mightiest conifer in Europe”, a magnificent Silver Fir. The admission fee is as little as £5 per adult and £2 per child (4-16), those under the age of 3 go free! Currently, Arkinglas is offering 50% off Admission from November 2021 to February 2022. Dogs on leads are welcome to join in the fun too. The woodland gardens are also home to The Gruffalo Trail, perfect for children. There are plenty of options for post-walk refreshments, which can be seen on our Taste Trails map, for whatever treats you fancy!
Barnluasgan in Knapdale Forest is a lovely spot, offering a mix of easy walking trails, a cycling trail, peaceful lochs and wonderful wildlife. The highlight has to be the resident beavers. As the evenings and nights get colder and the days shorter, there are minimal chances of seeing the beavers out and about, but there are still plenty of feeding signs around the loch edges to be seen. You may be lucky enough to spot the beavers building up food caches of branches that they store underwater in winter. The Beaver Detective Trail, a two-hour (three-mile) circular walk follows the natural terrain around the Dubh Loch and Loch Collie Bharr, but keep your eyes peeled for those Knapdale beavers.
Knapdale Forest, Credit: Grant Campbell
Glen Nant, one of Scotland's National Nature Reserves, is another fine example of Atlantic oakwood and a lovely place for a winter walk. This rich woodland of native trees blankets the slopes of Glen Nant near Taynuilt. Wander through this peaceful forest and admire the lichens and liverworts that are more easily seen when the leaves have fallen from the trees. Glen Nant has a fascinating history and played a key role in the development of charcoal-fuelled iron making, there is a car park available and a short riverside trail suitable for all abilities to enjoy.
Taynish National Nature Reserve is just south of Tayviallach. It’s one of the largest remaining oak forests in Britain. The woodland, grassland, heath, saltmarsh and shoreline are home to an incredible variety of wildlife – lookout for whooper swans and great northern divers during the winter months. Right now the wood can almost look ‘frosted’ with the pale grey-green of the old man's beard lichen and is dotted with bright red holly berries. Explore the woodlands on the Woodland Trail, a mostly level and well-surfaced route. If you are feeling more energetic, the Barr Mor Trail is strenuous with some steep climbs, but it gives you a great view from the top.
Taynish Natural Nature Reserve, Credit: Wild about Argyll
Set within the greenbelt of Helensburgh, Duchess Wood is a rich and diverse woodland with a variety of different plant and animal species. With a network of paths and bridges, this is a lovely place to visit and enjoy a winter woodland stroll with all the family. Helensburgh is just a short ride away and is a fabulous town, with lots to explore. Don’t forget to check out Hill House designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and is known as one of his finest domestic masterpieces.
Glenan Wood is a beautiful oak woodland just next to the CalMac ferry terminal at Portavadie on Argyll’s Secret Coast. The unique habitat is rich in flora and fauna, and rare lichens, moss, ferns and wildflowers thrive among the gnarled broadleaf trees, rocky outcrops and coastline. The woodland has a rich heritage too. Glenan Village is a deserted settlement deep in the wood with eight to nine ruined houses made of local stone. Winter is the best time of year to visit the settlement, as the bracken is down and the buildings can be seen. Portavadie's Kitchen & Bar is the perfect place for post-walk snacks and drinks – muddy boots are welcome!
Glenan Woods, Credit: Wild about Argyll