Faith in Cowal | Pilgrim Trails

Explore Scotland's Early Christian Landscape

Dunoon to Inverchaolain

Journey by:
(assuming you're staying in or around Dunoon)

This is a very enjoyable drive or bike-ride following the shore road south from Dunoon. It’s 26 miles there and back, or you can take a bus from Dunoon as far as Castle Toward (there are several buses a day) and walk from there. From Castle Toward to Inverchaolain is roughly 5.5 miles each way.

The trip is almost entirely along the lochside (Firth and then Loch Striven), so pretty flat most of the way. There’s usually very little traffic as the road dead ends shortly after Inverchaolain. The coastline is beautiful, and there are lots of birds and animals to see. Here’s a map centred on Castle Toward, which is roughly the half-way point of the journey from Dunoon to Inverchaolain.

The sight and sound of geese in flight may surprise and delight you as you disturb them on their shore grazing.

There is another way of getting to Inverchaolain from Dunoon – an attractive cross-country route of nearly six miles known as ‘the coffin route’. This has been more thoroughly described as part of St Brigit’s pilgrim route from Ardnadam to Inverchaolain. This one is not suitable for cycling unless you wish to carry your bike, as the coffin trail involves some steep, off-road hiking. You may need your Ordnance Survey map for this, and make sure to wear good shoes and waterproofs. Here’s a map of the route, centred at the bottom of the Glenkin forestry track.

Follow the track SSW up the glen, past the Glenkin farm (now a bunkhouse) to the head of the glen. The track will eventually turn and head back down the glen, but we keep going SW towards the pass ahead of us, Bealach na Srèine (‘pass of the bridle’, or ‘of the stripe’). At the head of the pass (NS1177) we look down into Inverchaolain Glen and head down the hill, keeping Inverchaolain Burn to our left when we meet it. Half way down we come to the forestry track on the right (NW) side of the burn. Follow that down to the farm of Stronyaraig (Sròn Dhearg ‘red nose or promontory’) and then down to the shore road. Turning left we shortly arrive at Inverchaolain Church.

You could walk back the way you came, over the hill. Or you could take the shore road south to Castle Toward (five and a half miles) and catch the bus back to Dunoon. Check the Ardentinny-Toward bus timetables before you go!