This short walk is crammed with things to see, and it takes in two of the pilgrim sites on our Cowal Pilgrimage. It can easily be enjoyed in 2 – 3 hours (or more, dependending on how long you’d like to spend in contemplation). Park your car in the space provided at ///flip.moss.affirming in front of Kilmodan Church, then start by visiting the lapidarium in the southwest corner of the Churchyard (///ripe.devotion.tolerable). Here you can see a wonderful collection of nine ancient carved stones dating from the 14th century. You should also be able to enter the Church and enjoy its humble interior. Perhaps offer a prayer, or sign the visitor book therein.
2.83 miles | 4.55 kilometers | Short Climb | Well Waymarked
The route out from Kilmodan to St Modan's Well
When you’re ready to set off, leave the church via the main gate and head up the alley at ///flip.moss.affirming. This leads you out to the roadway; turn right at ///shirt.flirts.difficult, and head head uphill to the first junction. For the purposes of this guide, we will be turning right from ///shatters.lunching.evidently, following the roadway until it joins the main A886 road, near ///replying.outfitter.stewing, then turning left at ///lease.fade.typically. Head north up that road (along the grass verge) until you pass the parking bay on the left, and encounter the entrance to Stronafian Community Forest a little further ahead (on the right), near ///unloads.join.letter.
The Colintraive & Glendaruel Development Trust (CGDT) have plans to make a shorter path to this entrance. This will involve turning left at the first junction, then cutting right, through a field, to the roadside opposite the entrance to Stronafian Forest. It will no doubt be signposted once complete.
The route into Stronafian Community forest begins with a set of steps climbing steeply and bending to the right. At the head of the steps, the path bends left, heading east and uphill towards a ring of small stones with a carved wooden totem, near ///capacity.elevates.following. There are waymarkers nearby, offering the choice to go right, or straight on.
Head straight on, uphill, passing the stone circle. The track continues to climb and is marked by plastic yellow circles nailed to the trees, and sometimes by painted stones. You’ll encounter the first wooden sculpture near ///paints.looms.haystack; here the path bears left and makes use of a wooden footbridge to cross a stream, then continues to climb and wind it’s way through the mature woodland.
Shortly after, there’s a carved wooden seat, looking downhill from near ///chef.bedrock.conductor, and here the path bends right and continues to climb. The trail passes above a waterfall, and you soon find yourself emerging from the woodland, to the more commonplace sight of commercial forestry trees in the distance. Another wooden footbridge crosses another stream, and then you’ll find another carved sculpture hiding in the foliage to your left.
By this point the trail is heading north, we’re still climbing but the gradient is nowhere near as steep, and the lack of trees means there are fantastic views into the glen behind you. Lephinkill chambered cairn is the next thing we encounter, near ///starred.passage.feuds. It is accompanied by a rather grand, carved wooden throne at ///minivans.connector.smarting. From here you can sit and enjoy the view, or alternatively, stop and picnic on the bench a little further on (seen from ///observer.unfilled.reviews).
The trail toward the well continues past the picnic bench and follows a fire-break in the trees. for a short distance. When you reach ///essays.apparatus.jumbo, another wide fire break runs downhill to your left, but the waymarkers encourage you to take a less defined trail heading off to the north. This latter quickly peels left (west) and downhill towards St Modan’s Well, which is found near ///february.defender.emulating.
This pilgrim site is marked by both a standing stone and a wooden well. Both of these are recent additions: the stone was erected by the Forestry Commission in the 1970’s to alert land workers as to the presence of the well; and the wooden well-and-bucket were installed by the CGDT in the summer of 2020 as a way to stimulate interest in the site.
Truth be told though; neither the stone nor the wooden construction mark the actual wellspring that was dedicated to St Modan. This can be found just a little further upstream and remains, as it always has been, a mere hole in the ground (although nowadays it is shored up with large stones and the drainage system has been improved). Many people like to leave white quartz stones (found on the journey through the woods) as offerings near the well – but a less destructive offering could be in the form of a simple prayer.
The return from St Modan's Well to Kilmodan
Feel free to partake of a wee drop of holy water here, then follow the trail downhill. It rejoins the main path near ///unrated.banana.handicaps, whereupon you turn right and follow the path as it snakes downhill. There are various junctions that appear (namely at ///fork.rated.playfully, ///handwriting.relate.releasing and ///incursion.magical.lasted) but in all cases the waymarkers direct you down the main trail.
These diversions tend to route back to the main path in any case, so if you’d like to take your time on the descent, feel free to explore. In no time at all, you reach a set of steps; near ///angers.dispose.sunflower. At the foot of these steps, turn right and follow the path through two metal gates to a parking area near ///infinite.hiking.incursion.
The route continues through ///slanting.thigh.tree and crosses the road to cut through a field at ///stores.channel.offerings. Turn left when you reach the path near ///launched.elections.jumpy and this bridleway leads you southwards toward a road near ///crusaders.croutons.stitching. Turn left here, then immediately right at the next junction (///grace.shimmered.wriggle), which puts you onto the road into the Clachan of Glendaruel.
You’ll soon reach the first junction we encountered on the way out (seen from ///wonderful.campers.decades), at which point turn right, through ///kicks.manicured.spillage, to get down to the car park outside of Kilmodan Church.