(scroll to the bottom of the page for map links to Kilmodan Church)
9.81 miles | 15.79 kilometers | Good Surface | Some Hills
The route between Kilfinan and Kilmodan is very straightforward. It follows the B8000 road north from Kilfinan, past the trail for Auchnaha Cairn (which is where this guide actually starts), then uses a Forestry road as a short-cut to bealach an droighne (‘pass of the blackthorn’, also known as Otter Hill Road). This winding pass is rarely used and allows you to make quick progress toward Glendaruel. There are beautiful views to be had in both directions from this road, so don’t forget to look behind you occasionally! The pass deposits you on the A886 road just before the entrance to the Clachan of Glendaruel. Kilmodan Church and it’s wee lapidarium are tucked behind the village, near the banks of the river.
This route is the fourth and final stage of the South West Cowal Pilgrim Loop. It’s well suited for cyclists and walkers alike. Although this is posted as the guide for Kilfinan to Kilmodan, we’ve already described the route between Kilfinan and Auchnaha in the previous stage, so this guide assumes you’re starting from the cairn. Cyclists may decide to skip the brief diversion to Auchnaha – due to a lack of suitable surface and nothing to tie bicycles off to – but we assure you it’s worth making the time, and you can probably tie your bikes to a tree, or lay them behind a bush while you explore the cairn: crime levels are very low in Cowal!
Stage 1: Auchnaha to Otter Hill
If you’re driving this route, then you can park your car outside of the community centre opposite Kilfinan church while exploring the grounds. For Auchnaha Cairn, drive a little further up the road; parking at ///awesome.thumbnail.tasks (the entrance to Ballimore Farm Estate, pictured above from ///joyously.jingles.bulletins). This guide assumes that you’re walking, and starting from the cairn however. As such, exit the stones via ///shook.maker.masking then turn left at ///reclined.member.crystals, climb over the fallen tree, and make your way down to ///bearable.finally.barrel.
In the summer months the clearway ahead is often overgrown with fern and bracken, but you’ll no doubt have found a way up to the cairn already, so it’s a simple matter of retracing your steps, no? If in doubt, face right and orient yourself towards the farmhouse in the distance. This way you can make your way over the heather and then turn left around the fern bank, rather than battling through the bracken directly.
There’s a faint trail running underneath the overhead cables from ///removal.processor.strain to ///snippets.outreach.daydream. From there you should be able to find the avenue of trees, near ///conceals.stocks.tradition, and make your way back down to ///guarding.garlic.buzzing, where the road is clearly visible. Join the road near ///plants.condense.performs (being mindful of the ditch at the roadside). Turn right, heading north up the road, past the entrance to Ballimore Farm Estate (on the left near ///packing.mascots.huddling), and you’ll soon reach a crossroads near ///birthing.sorters.outfit.
Here, a forestry track crosses the main road. Pilgrims travelling on foot will be taking the right fork at the crossroads and following the forestry road for a while. Cyclists may prefer to press on north up the B8000 then turn right, onto Otter Hill Road, when it appears near ///swatting.lace.record (just be mindful that it’s a sharp switchback and is easy to miss). If you’re driving, be very careful on this road: like any pass, the ‘pass of the blackthorn’ is winding, with steep sections and hairpin corners.
Walkers turn right, entering the forestry road at ///eradicate.swept.throats. This is a pleasant, winding path through heather filled countryside. The surface is suitable for mountain bikes, and there are no challenging hills to worry about. It sets off in an east/northeast direction from ///tile.torches.bounding, eventually switching back to face southeast from ///cases.absent.withdraw, then finding a T-junction at ///segments.alone.pacifist. Turn left here (heading north, through ///upsetting.harp.keyboard) and follow the road all the way to ///fidelity.chum.nuns, where it meets Otter Hill Road.
Stage 2: Otter Hill to Kilmodan
Turn right onto Otter Hill Road heading east through ///being.lifeguard.defeated. The road gently ascends; peaking at ///richest.trickles.momentous. It’s worth remembering to turn around and look behind you during this section as the views over Loch Fyne are spectacular in good weather. As the road starts to plateau you’ll see a crossroads near ///limitless.firm.botanists; press on straight ahead on your original eastbound bearing. There are no more junctions to worry about; just continue to follow the road, and be mindful of the fact that vehicles do still use this road, so you could be surprised by a car on a hairpin corner.
Eventually, views over Glendaruel start to open up from ///promoting.spit.gazette. The road begins to descend quite steeply at this point, in a northerly direction, then switches back to head south, from ///clustered.relegate.giants (providing great views over Ballochandrain Farm). As it reaches the bottom of the hill it bends left, bearing east once more. You’ll pass the entrance to the farm near ///play.trains.wordplay, but carry on ahead, through ///leave.befitting.tolerates.
As you head down this section of the road keep an eye out to your left: Looking over the fields from ///harmless.highs.mothering, you’ll see our destination (Kilmodan Church) sitting at the head of the valley in the distance (labelled ///hiring.lush.storming below). Shortly, the road leads to a stone bridge (near ///alike.passing.heat), which offers wonderful views in both directions up the River Ruel. Turn left (north) off the bridge, from ///cigar.overlook.flask, and follow the road to a junction with the A886 near ///heartache.rehearsal.translate.
Turn left again here, onto the A886, and keep to the grass verges as this is a busier road. In no time at all the turn-off for Kilmodan appears, on your left, near ///debating.verbs.comedians. Follow this lane all the way into the Clachan, past the hotel, to ///reform.factored.rate; where a left turn will point you in the direction of Kilmodan church and carved stones. At the foot of this lane branch left again, through ///remaking.soothing.formation, and follow the path down to the car park. There’s an interpretation board near the entrance to the church, at ///fever.ballparks.graphics; this will give you some useful information in the event that the church is closed.
If the church is open, then feel free to enter; you should find some Faith in Cowal leaflets inside, with information about many of our sites (some of which doesn’t appear on this website). Please do make sure to sign the visitor book, and mention this website/pilgrimage. Kilmodan is best viewed around sunset, regardless of the season. Photography enthusiasts should be able to achieve optimal results from the southwest corner of the grounds (as shown from ///trouble.relatives.locating). While you’re in the southwest corner, make sure to visit the lapidarium (at ///firelight.valuables.rockets): there are 14th century carved stones preserved herein!