Cowal is a brilliant base for an adventure break. It’s just a short drive from Glasgow, yet it provides a true taste of the Scottish Highlands. Argyll Forest Park stretches across much of Cowal, offering incredible walking and mountain biking opportunities. Two beautiful stretches of water – Loch Long and Loch Fyne – flank the peninsula making the area a magnet for watersport enthusiast and sailors too. If you’re hankering after an adventure break, here are ten reasons to choose Cowal.
Cross country mountain biking
There are some truly memorable cross country mountain biking trails through Argyll Forest Park. There’s a whole network of trails from Ardgartan, while Glenbranter offers some fantastic off-road cycling for all abilities. Looking for a challenge? The 35km Loch Eck Loop is an epic route through simply stunning scenery. And you can reward yourself with refreshments at the Whistlefield Inn.
If you’d rather test your downhill mountain biking skills, head to Bishop’s Glen, a ten-minute cycle from the centre of Dunoon. Members of the Cowal Mountain Bike Club have developed some great trails and you’ll find lots of flowing, natural sngle-track, as well as some tricky descents.
Cowal is world renowned for its sailing, with protected waters, anchorages, islands and shore side facilities. Learn the ropes with Tighnabruaich Sailing School, which has been teaching people to sail in the Kyles of Bute on Argyll’s Secret Coast for over 50 years. They also do powerboat training. The protected waters are also perfect for stand up paddle boarding
Or go for paddle power
Explore Cowal’s coastline by kayak. You can visit deserted islands, land on secluded beaches and get up close and personal with the seals, porpoises and maybe even an otter. Sea Kayak Argyll, based in Dunoon, provides kayak coaching and guiding for all levels, from day-courses for beginners to multi-day expeditions for more experienced kayakers.
Cowal is home to some fabulous forests where you can enjoy a stroll and look out for the local wildlife, including red squirrels.Puck’s Glen near Dunoon is a magical place, with tumbling waterfalls and trails that wind through a rocky gorge. Ardkinglas Woodland Gardens at the head of Loch Fyne in Cairndow is another fantastic place for a woodland wander. Kids will love the Gruffalo Trail. There are plenty of options for post-walk refreshments, including Loch Fyne Oysterbar, Fyne Ales, and Cairndow Inn.
Head for the hills
Discover Cowal’s epic mountains, the best of which are clustered around Loch Eck near Dunoon. Beinn Ruadh and Beinn Mhor, Cowal’s highest peak (741 metres), offer fantastic walking and stunning views. There’s some great hill walking around Lochgoilhead too.
Explore Cowal’s forests, farmland, and hillsides with Quadmania, a five-star quad-biking centre near Dunoon. Go on an adrenalin-fuelled quad bike trek and tackle fields, streams, woodland and hills.
Loch Lomond & Cowal Way
This long-distance route runs for 57-miles along the Cowal Peninsula and takes you through some of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes. Most of the Loch Lomond & Cowal Way can be done on a mountain bike – as long as you’re pretty fit.
This terrific ten-day walking and outdoors festival takes place across Cowal. There’s a huge range of guided walks on offer, as well as other events in the great outdoors. Many of the walks are themed, covering wildlife, bird watching, drama, folklore, architecture and more. It’s a great way to discover Cowal and meet other adventure-loving folk. CowalFest takes place in October.
Had enough activity for one day? Head to Portavadie on the shores of Loch Fyne where you’ll find a stunning spa and leisure complex. Watch the sun set over the loch from the outdoor heated swimming pool and plan tomorrow’s adventures.