The Benmore Botanic Gardens
The Benmore Gardens, a specialist garden of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, is a magnificent woodland garden set amidst the mountains of the Cowal Peninsula. Its 140 acres are renowned for the wide collection of trees and shrubs, which includes over 250 species of rhododendrons. One of the most spectacular views is the avenue of Giant Redwood trees that greets every visitor on entering the garden. Throughout there are marked walks which lead to a beautiful pond and formal garden which display a wide variety of Himalayan and Oriental plants. Continue up the richly planted hill slopes, which rise to 450 feet to a dramatic viewpoint overlooking the Eachaig valley and the Holy Loch. Refreshments are available. The Botanics Shop sells a range of books, gifts and plants some of which can be found in the garden. Facilities are also provided for those less able, including wheelchairs.
The Pucks Glen forest and waterfall walks
Within an easy 5 minute drive, you can also access Pucks Glen and a choice of 3 woodland trails, Sign posted and marked out offering a sometimes tropical rainforest feel with magnificent views from the summits. The waterfalls walk features a meandering tour up the valley involving a series bridges crossing streams, cascading waterfalls and pools, particularly delightful after a strong downpour of rain. The un-surpassed Pucks Glen hosts a series of streams and waterfalls cascading down a fantastic woodland valley trail.
The Glen Massan trail
In the same area as Pucks Glen and the Benmore gardens, you will also find at the end of a delightful single track trail that Glen Massan is a great place to visit, particularly for fishing, leisure walking and those just seeking the peace and quiet. Here you can walk for miles along the easy going river trail. There are also more challenging forest trails for the serious walkers and plenty of good places for a picnics.
The Spectacular Kyles of Bute
The spectacular Kyles of Bute as seen on television, can be easily reached in less than 1 hour from Kirn and well worth the journey as you pass through some delightful little villages, lochs, forests, hills and glens on the way there.
The lsle of Bute
Combine these most spectacular views with a trip to the captivating Isle of Bute a beautiful little island about 15 miles long and nearly 5 miles wide and less than an hours drive from Dunoon to the Bute ferry at Colintraive. Always a favourite day trip with much to offer with hills in the North and plenty of sandy beaches, ruined chapels and castles, yachting, fishing, golf, etc. Bute's many gardens benefit from the Gulf Stream which gives the island a mild climate enabling palm trees and other exotic plants to grow there. One of the main visitor attractions is the spectacular Mount Stuart house and gardens. Canada hill offers the best views from this island.
Dunoon and the Cowalfest
The highly popular October walking festival known as the Cowalfest is now firmly established as a highlight of the year in the Cowal calender, with all the walks graded and numbered. There are also cultural and social events to accompany this event which usually last about 10 days around the middle of the month. A 'must' for walkers and based around Dunoon. Dunoon offers many services, including two supermarkets, high street shops include gift ware, electrical, grocery & health. One local hospital (Dunoon general), a doctor and a vet. Numerous leisure facilities include crown green bowling, tennis courts, swimming baths, quad biking, golf and crazy golf. There are 2 regular ferry crossings to Gourock and the Waverley Paddle Steamer calls in the summer.
Inveraray....the Castle, the old Jail and Museum
Well worth a visit during your stay. Around just 60 minutes drive to the lovely town of Inveraray, a former Royal Burgh in Argyll and Bute, located on the western shore of Loch Fyne near its head. One time traditional county town of Argyll and ancestral home to the Duke of Argyll, who founded the town in 1745 alongside his new home, Inveraray Castle. Its distinctive white buildings on the loch shore make it very photogenic and it is a very popular tourist destination, with a number of attractions in addition to the castle. The Georgian Inveraray Jail in the burgh is now a museum. Other attractions include the Argyll Folk Museum at Auchindrain. The Celtic Inveraray Cross can also been seen in the town.
Bus services around Dunoon, Inveraray and Toward.
If you are coming on holiday to actually take a break from driving, there is a fairly regular bus service run by West Coast Motors www.westcoastmotors.co.uk who run the 476 and 486 services between Toward, Innellan, Dunoon, Kilmun, Pucks Glen / Benmore Gardens, Whistlefield, Strachur, Loch Fyne Oysters and Inverary.
There are 5 return trips in each direction Mondays to Saturdays and 3 return trips on Sundays from Easter to the end of October. They also operate services from Dunoon to the Isle of Bute plus a number of other destinations in Cowal.
Mountain bikes and Walking Holidays
Along with numerous local walks, more serious walkers can sample a part or all of the Cowal way. The Cowal Way is a long distance footpath split into 6 sections, running the length of the Cowal Peninsula. It starts at Portavadie, beside Loch Fyne, and finishes in at Ardgartan, by Loch Long. It is 47 miles (75 km) long, climbing 5050 ft (1540 m) on the way. The route follows existing rights of way and public roads, (most of which are extremely quiet), or goes through Forestry Commission land which includes a good deal of open hill. Access is not an issue. For the mountain bikers there is also the Glen Kin way, an easy 6 mile / 10 Km circuit of a small glen in Cowal that suits beginners and provides more experienced riders with optional challenges
For more information on guided walks, please contact Nikki Dayton Tel 01369 860324. You can hire bikes daily / Weekly from either Quadmania Ltd 01369 810246 Or ProAdventure Scotland 01369 707456
Dunoon is only a 15 minute walk from your accommodation and has a selection of excellent restaurants, fast food takeaways and a cinema. The best restaurant has to be 'Littlejohns' situated next to Morrisons supermarket. The Indian Rose indian restaurant on Argyll Street is also worth a visit. For a good variety of food RIO on the main Argyll Street should be checked out.
Further afield but within easy reach are a number of excellent seafood restaurants and country pubs, The Creggans in Strachur is gaining good food reports,also the renowned Loch Fyne Oyster Bar (a few miles before Inveraray) where you can sample some of the world famous oysters from the shores of Loch Fyne. Try also the famous Whistlefield Inn (two thirds of the way up Loch Eck side) is a cosy 14th Century inn with an open fire and inviting atmosphere. It also has a fantastic selection of Malt Whiskies, real ales and a restaurant with great food. Another eating place with a good reputation building up is The Osborne in Innellan.
Also the Golf Club on Ardenslate Road 8 minutes walk serves food and drink, worth a check!