Mountain or quad: why Dunoon is the perfect base for biking!

Whether you like to hit the hills on two wheels or four, you need to discover Dunoon on Argyll’s Cowal Peninsula. In the heart Argyll Forest Park, it’s a brilliant base for a mountain- or quad-biking adventure. The seaside town of Dunoon – which is under an hour from Glasgow – has some of Scotland’s best mountain bike trails right on its doorstep. And it’s also home to Quadmania, which runs quad bike treks. If you fancy a pedal-powered or motorised biking adventure, make sure you make a date with Dunoon this year!

Mountain biking
Over the past few years, Dunoon has become a magnet for savvy mountain bikers who’ve discovered the area’s fantastic forests, great routes and amazing scenery. It’s still very low-key though and you’re pretty much guaranteed to have the trails to yourself – for now! But the secret’s getting out. In May this year Dunoon hosted Round 2 of the prestigious Scottish Cross Country Mountain Bike Series and in September the POC Scottish Enduro Series is coming to town.

This recent recognition is thanks to members of the Cowal Mountain Bike Club, who’ve been busy developing some awesome trails in Bishop’s Glen, a wooded, hilly area just behind Dunoon. Hop off the ferry at Dunoon (bikes go free on both Western Ferries and passenger-only Argyll Ferries) and you’ll be there in under 10 minutes. Plentiful flowing, natural single-track and some tricky technical descents to test your downhill skills awaits. If technical, gnarly trails aren’t your thing, there are gentler options on offer. The 20k Corlarach Loop starts at Bishop’s Glen and takes you through Corlarach Forest. It’s a great route for all the family along undulating forest track. Kids will love the excitement of exploring a forest by bike – you never know what wildlife you might encounter around the next corner!

Other top places for mountain biking near Dunoon include Glenbranter, Ardgarten and Glenmassan. The 11km Glenshellish Loop is a good introduction to off-road cycling and you can enjoy splashing through a ford at the head of the glen! The 35km Loch Eck Loop, meanwhile, is for those who fancy a challenge. This epic route (with epic views) takes you through the forests fringing Loch Eck. The 32km Ardgartan Peninsula Circuit is another one for the fit and determined. This grand tour requires serious stamina, but you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the Clyde and surrounding mountains.

Quad Biking
You can‘t beat a quad bike trek for motorised adrenalin-fuelled fun. Explore the forests, farmland, and hillsides around Dunoon with Quadmania. This five-star quad-biking centre is run by David and Fiona Marshall from their farm at Blairmore on the coast of Loch Long. The quads are semi-automatic, so they’re easy to drive. After your instruction, you’re off over the open countryside. For basic skills opt for the Quad Bike Trek, where you’ll tackle farmland, streams, natural woodland and a forest glen before climbing to 1,000 feet, taking in fantastic views. The next stage is the Monster Quad, Trek, which includes a technical challenge on purpose-built tracks. And finally the Mammoth Quad Trek will give you the opportunity to power your quad up to 1,500 feet. What a rush!

You can also explore the open hillside and rugged forest terrain around Lochgoilhead with Argyll Holidays at Drimsynie Estate. Enjoy panoramic views while blasting through the countryside.

After a hard day’s biking you’re bound to feel a bit peckish. Dunoon is a cracking wee town with loads of great places to eat and drink. Find out more about things to see and do in Dunoon & Cowal and check out Dunoon Presents, which organizes outdoor events throughout the year. You might also be interested in CowalFest Argyll, the annual walking and outdoors festival.