Faith in Cowal | Pilgrim Trails

Explore Scotland's Early Christian Landscape

Dunoon to Ardnadam

John St - Dunoon:
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OS Map
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OS Map

Assuming you’re staying in Dunoon, then this walk to Ardnadam Chapel – over the hilltop of Dunan locally known as the Camel’s Hump –  is a pleasant afternoon stroll along forestry roads. If it weren’t for a few muddy patches when you join the Ardnadam Heritage Trail, then this could even be done in trainers. The hilltop currently enjoys panoramic views over Dunoon (although this will change with Forestry crop rotation). 

The Forestry path is suitable for mountain bikes as well as walkers. The walk takes approximately 70 minutes each way, although if you wish to extend your journey, you can take a longer return route over Dunan. Cyclists will have to take this longer route in both directions because the Heritage Trail is not suitable for bikes. It’s worth spending an extra 5 – 10 mins to detour to the viewpoint, which will guarantee you a view over the trees!

4.82 miles | 7.75 kilometers | Good Surface | Light Hills
Suitable for:
Walking - no need for hiking poles
Cycling - off-road mountain biking
The route out from Dunoon to Ardnadam

The route starts at the top of the town. Head west up John St until you reach ///fools.canny.scrap at the very top. You’ll see a track between two residences, signposted as a hill path network. Incidentally, John St is the one with Morrison’s supermarket at the bottom, but you can only drive a little way up this road before it becomes a one way road – and not in your favour. So if you’re not staying nearby, and wish to drive to the start point, you’d do well to park at Hanover St car park. The entrance can be found at ///hello.mows.upgrading. This car park has plenty of spaces, and is only one street over from John St.

The track out of John St immediately bends right (north) then climbs gently in a north westerly direction. After a short while there’s a gate, with room nearby to park one, maybe two cars, and the path continues to climb. As it climbs, the views over Dunoon are revealed to your right (east).

Dunoon to Ardnadam_1585836931669 - Faith-in-Cowal ©subtlesensor2020
Dunoon to Ardnadam_1585836733060 - Faith-in-Cowal ©subtlesensor2020

There’s a fork in the road at ///bumpy.fake.bathtubs, take the path heading right (north) and, if you spin around, your view to the south will begin to open up too (weather permitting!). Further up the hill, on the right, there’s an old map of Dunloskin Woodland attempting to show where the forestry road joins other routes such as the Heritage Trail we’re aiming for. Dunloskin is a privately owned woodland, enclosing Loch Loskin; a freshwater loch, stocked with brown trout for use by Dunoon and District Angling Club. Forestry roads change by necessity all the time, however, and this map doesn’t even show the four-way junction that it immediately precedes; it also references positions of two other map boards, but these don’t exist anymore, so just ignore it!*

Dunoon to Ardnadam_1585836862399 - Faith-in-Cowal ©subtlesensor2020
Dunoon to Ardnadam_1585836834392 - Faith-in-Cowal ©subtlesensor2020
Dunoon to Ardnadam_1585836397859 - Faith-in-Cowal ©subtlesensor2020
Dunoon to Ardnadam_1585836329527 - Faith-in-Cowal ©subtlesensor2020

The four-way junction is just up ahead. Pilgrims on foot can choose to walk the shorter route: take the right fork (heading north) and the path levels out. Provided the trees have been felled, you’ll still be treated to expansive views over the Firth of Clyde. As the path starts to descend again, there’s an option to divert up a track on the right, at ///overtones.outfit.florists, signposted as the Heritage Trail Viewpoint. This climbs steeply for 5 mins and gives you a commanding view over Inverclyde. On a clear day you can see right down the River Clyde to the Erskine Bridge. After enjoying the views, you could follow the track west off the viewpoint to merge with the cyclist’s route, or simply return the way you came for a gentler approach to the chapel.

Cyclists must take the (slightly longer) route heading northwest – on the same bearing as the path you’ve been following – and head up into the trees. This path then continues climbing northwest until you pass a radio tower at ///golf.cork.darkens, at which point the path starts to snake west, then north again. When you reach a fork with a signpost (hidden off to the right) take the right (north easterly) track, this leads eventually to another fork and you’ll want to bear right (north) again, as the track descends and bends around to the south, depositing you at the start of the Ardnadam Heritage Trail (for pictures of this route -in reverse – see the return section of the walking loop further down the page). Tie your bikes up here, and follow the route laid out on the Ardnadam Chapel page to find the chapel and/or chambered cairn.

Dunoon to Ardnadam_1586787260123 - Faith in Cowal ©subtlesensor2020
Dunoon to Ardnadam_1586787815951 - Faith in Cowal ©subtlesensor2020

Retracing your steps down from the viewpoint, the lower path continues north as it descends, then winds right (south) and back to the left (north) again, passing Loch Loskin on your right. As the path reaches the same level as the loch, and wants to switch south again, there’s a sign (at ///signs.swept.roaming) labeled ‘Heritage Trail’ and pointing you back up the way you came, to the camels hump. Here we’re going to ignore the road bending south and continue north, into the woods. You’ll see that the road runs north for a smidge at ///daylight.wealth.nerd, then dead ends.

A keen eye will spot a desire path leading into the woodland at the northwest corner of this dead end. It immediately bends left toward ///happily.geologist.conspired, where you have the choice now of following it left (doubling back south) or right (north). The left path dead ends in short time; it’s the right path we wish to take. This section of the path can be quite boggy at times, and it also employs wooden bridges in some places, which are in various states of repair and neglect, so be careful how you go.

Dunoon to Ardnadam_1585834725180 - Faith-in-Cowal ©subtlesensor2020
Dunoon to Ardnadam_1585834515804 - Faith-in-Cowal ©subtlesensor2020

The path wends its way through the woodland and eventually brings you down some stone steps through a gap in a drystone dyke. Here you’re presented with a missing bridge over a fairly wide burn at ///given.handrail.responds. The burn is easy to cross at this point; there are plenty of stones to use, and the water isn’t usually high or fast flowing here. You’re almost there! After crossing the burn, follow the track for a very short distance and you’ll be presented with the first of three interpretation boards associated with Ardnadam Chapel.

Dunoon to Ardnadam_1585833167251 - Faith-in-Cowal ©subtlesensor2020
Dunoon to Ardnadam_1585833052887 - Faith-in-Cowal ©subtlesensor2020
Dunoon to Ardnadam_1585832836427 - Faith-in-Cowal ©subtlesensor2020
Dunoon to Ardnadam_1585832730627 - Faith-in-Cowal ©subtlesensor2020

After spending some time here, you can choose from one of three return routes: You can return whence you came, retracing your footsteps over the camel’s hump; or you can continue following the heritage trail in reverse, until you reach the welcome board at ///future.yesterday.slightly. Here you can turn right to find the A885 road back into Dunoon, or take the left fork, which begins the longer (cyclist) route over Dunan hill. Taking the latter option will add another 10 – 20mins to your walk, whereas following the main road into town will shave about 20mins off your time. For the purpose of this guide (and to aid pilgrims on bicycles), we’ll assume you choose to walk in a loop around the cylce track.

The route back from Ardnadam to Dunoon

When you reach the information board at the start of the Ardnadam Heritage Trail (which marks the end of our out-leg), there’s a fork in the path. The right fork takes you to the main road, where there’s a pavement to follow, downhill, into Dunoon if you choose. The left fork leads off uphill and is the beginning of the return loop. This path sends you back round by a slightly longer route. It’s worthwhile because it’s more peaceful, less populated, and offers some great views.

However, before embarking on that route, you may like to stop at a nearby neolithic chambered cairn, known as Adam’s Grave. This is a short walk away. Take the right path until you come to a junction with a small parking area; turn left here and follow that road for 3 mins, until you reach a residential area. At this point cut right, through the fields, to see the cairn at ///ledge.strikers.dealings.

Return to the information board at ///collapsed.nitrate.bought and take the path heading due north (now on your right). It’s signposted for Glenkin, and heads uphill quickly, disappearing around a corner. The path continues to climb as it bends around and points you into the hills. There’s a junction at ///synthetic.truckload.comically, stick to the main path, which branches left (south) toward Dunoon. The path climbs steadily. As it does so you may be treated to some more views of Holy Loch, over Strone Point to Cove on the opposite shore.

Eventually, you reach another fork at ///unframed.stand.snowstorm. Once again choose the left hand fork, heading south and still ascending (although more gently now). Currently there are a few felled/fallen trees obstructcting this path a little, but you can still get by. These are commercial forests, so the landscape, views and paths change constantly.

In no time at all, the path begins to descend and soon confronts you with another fork. This one is signposted: Sandbank (back the way you came) and Dunloskin (off to the left). The signpost is quite well hidden by some trees, the Dunloskin flag seems to point into the woods, and there’s no sign for the right hand path, heading northwest, which is a fairly recent addition. Take the left fork and continue on a southeasterly bearing.

This path is wide and looks to be well used by Forestry vehicles, but it doesn’t appear on some maps and satellite imagery. It’s a recent addition, linking two of the core hillpaths in this area, and hopefully it’s here to stay. It forms a straight, southeasterly line between the junction and ///baker.conqueror.before, where it starts to bend on a more easterly bearing until you reach another junction at ///custodian.personal.chip. At this junction we want to take the right hand path, once more heading southeast. It’s worth noting however, that the left fork leads to a radio tower and behind that tower is a path to Dunan viewpoint, the apex of the Heritage Trail, this time approaching it’s western flank.

The right hand path descends gently and leads you to a metal gate at ///recently.fermented.gates. Here things should start to look familiar as this gate marks where the walkers and the cyclists separate on the outbound section. From here take path leading downhill and to the left (southeast) from ///vitals.outlooks.forgiven and you’ll be retracing your steps down toward John Street. 

*We try to keep the website up to date, but should you discover that this guide has become inaccurate due to path changes, or indeed, if it’s confusing in any way please contact