Faith in Cowal | Pilgrim Trails

Explore Scotland's Early Christian Landscape

Enjoyable Journeys

Getting around in Cowal

Every Places for Pilgrims page on this website includes information on how to get there. That’s useful for those who simply want to drive to the sites and then spend time enjoying each destination. For some pilgrims, however, the journey is just as important as the destination.

Indeed, the hardship of journeying is often the main purpose of a pilgrimage; a way to throw off the constraints of the everyday, focus on being in the journey – in the world – and in doing so, coming into closer contact with what is divine about existence.

So here we’ve included some interesting or attractive journeys, with some description of the routes, attractions and opportunities you might find along the way. They all connect in some way to at least one of the Cowal pilgrim sites, but are aimed at those who are looking for a good walk, or a good cycle-ride, rather than heading straight to the honeypot. 

Our map (linked above) shows how most of the pilgrim sites and nearby interests relate to each other, and where the roads are between them. We’ve also developed walking routes between each of the main sites (bright coloured lines). However, you may prefer to improvise your own journey around the 15+ pilgrim sites. If you wish to do that, you’ll find the Ordnance Survey Explorer maps (sheets 362 and 363 in particular) very useful – if not absolutely necessary! And may we also gently suggest you spend the extra for a weatherproof version; Cowal is a temperate rain-forest after all.

Faith In Cowal

Walking & Cycling in Cowal

42km/26 miles one way. Travelling via Toward Castle. For walkers, cyclists or drivers (with an alternative 9.6km/6 mile walk called the ‘Coffin Trail’).
7.75km/4.82 miles loop. A pleasant afternoon stroll over Camel’s Hump and back round through the hills. Alterations for cyclists.
21.5km/13 miles one way. If you prefer to be off the beaten path, then this pilgrim trail is for you. Hiking poles essential. Not suitable for cyclists.
3.5km/2.2 miles one way. A short walk using the new Clachan to Cairndow pathway (this guide continues to Strachur). Also suitable for cyclists. miles one way. For walkers, cyclists or drivers. Portavadie Marina is a first class tourist attraction in it’s own right. A short trip by any mode.

20km/12.5 miles one way. Travelling via Old Castle Lachlan. For walkers, cyclists or drivers (perhaps continuing the Portavadie – Kilfinan trip).

6.5km/4 mile one way, or 10km/6 mile loop. A short coastal walk travelling via Old Castle Lachlan. Walking only, but well worth the trip for the views alone.
11km/6.8 miles one way. Travelling via Old Castle Lachlan. For walkers, cyclists or drivers (consider stopping at Strachur Smiddy if in season).
4.5km/2.8 miles (loop). Walking route only. A short climb from Kilmodan, through Stronafian Community Forest, to reach St Modan’s Well.
21km/13 miles one way. Travelling via Fearnoch Chapel. For walkers and cyclists (with an alternative 12.5km/7.7 mile route ending in Colintraive).

Faith In Cowal

Other Websites Exploring Cowal

Opens in new window. “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints”. This longtime resident of Cowal offers an unofficial guide for walkers, cyclists and kayak enthusiasts.
92km/57 miles one way. Walking route only. “Scotland in 57 miles.” Travelling from Portavadie, via Glendaruel, Strachur and Lochgoilhead, to Inveruglas. Click through to read more.

Opens in new window. The East Cowal Heritage Outdoor (ECHO) trails are a series of shorter trails being developed in east Cowal. Each visits a number of (mostly secular) “heritage hotspots”.

Cowal by car

The eighty-mile circuit on our pilgrims map is designed to be a helpful starting-point if you want to explore the breathtaking landscapes of Cowal by car. Scotland is a small country but sparsely populated; with vast distances between places of interest. It makes sense, therefore, to bring your car to Cowal! This way you can pick and choose the sites you’d like to visit based on type, time, and weather conditions.

Bear in mind that taxi-drivers in Dunoon know the area well. If you’re in Dunoon without a vehicle, you could collect some of the Faith-in-Cowal leaflets from Bookpoint or Kilmun, and ask Taxi George to take your party to some of the sites. If you can share the cost of an afternoon hire, this is a surprisingly affordable way to ‘drive’ around Cowal.

The Old Castle Lachlan Trust has some nice suggestions for drivers exploring Cowal; with information about places to stop and look around. Their attractive website is not particularly aimed at pilgrims or ‘faith tourists’ but the driving journeys they recommend are worthwhile if you’re in the area.

Another great resource for the visitor to Cowal is the Wild About Argyll website. This is aimed at visitors exploring the whole of Argyll & Bute, but they have a great section on things to see and do in Cowal that can be used to put together your own road-trip. 

Cowal on foot

For visitors to Cowal keen to get out and about by the power of their own feet – be that walking or cycling – there’s an abundance of trails, routes and places to visit. From remote beaches and mountain biking, to heritage trails and wild-camping.

The Loch Lomond and Cowal Way is a great place to start; so named because it stretches from near Portavadie Marina resort in the south of Cowal, through Glendaruel and the incredible beauty of Loch Eck in central Cowal, then on through the picturesque village of Lochgoilhead. It leaves the peninsula at it’s north-eastern  corner and terminates at the eastern coast of Loch Lomond. You can use The Cowal Way to connect the Kintyre Way and the West Highland Way, creating a truly magnificent Scottish walking holiday.

But if you want to stay and explore what our wee peninsula has to offer, you can’t go far wrong with Explore Cowal, the unofficial guide to Cowal; a blog written by a passionate resident, showing you the best places to walk, kayak, and cycle, as well as the best way to climb the local hills.

And, once again, Wild About Argyll offers a few suggestions for cycle routes as well as some great ideas for walking routes.

“Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints; kill nothing but time.”