(scroll to the bottom of the page for map links to Ardnadam Chapel)
9.71 miles | 15.62 kilometers | Good Surface | Light Hills
The route between Kilmun Church and Ardnadam Chapel makes for a pleasant walk through Kilmun Arboretum and Puck’s Glen – both wonderful tourist attractions in their own right. It then follows a quiet, single-track road through Glen Massan before tracking up into the hills behind Glenkin and depositing you at the start of the Ardnadam Heritage Trail. From here it’s a short walk along an often muddy track to reach the excavated footings of Ardnadam Chapel. It should take no more than 6hrs at an easy pace. This route is the first leg of our South East Cowal pilgrim loop.
Most of this journey is on surfaces that can be used by mountain bikes, although you will have to forego the magical beauty of Puck’s Glen gorge walk. Instead follow the forestry tracks via a longer, shallower descent to the road, then use the road to double back to Uig hall, where the route crosses into Glen Massan (this adds 3 miles to the journey making it 12.6 miles/20.3 km in total). The short, final section, along the heritage trail to the chapel, isn’t suitable for bikes either, but there should be somewhere to tie them off so you can complete the journey on foot.
Stage 1: Kilmun to Uig Hall
The route starts in the parking area outside Kilmun Church at ///alongside.remote.safely. Leave the car park, keeping Holy Loch on your left, and shortly you’ll come to a right turn signposted for Kilmun Arboretum. Take this turn, the road climbs and twists a bit, then straightens out, pointing you in a northwesterly direction. There are various offshoots from this road; all paths that lead you around the arboretum, which is somewhere you could spend a full morning – it’s like a mini version of Benmore Botanic Gardens and free to enjoy. Keep following the main route north west, gently ascending, and you’ll see a gate. This marks the boundary of the arboretum; go through the gate and keep following toward Puck’s Glen.
There’s a fork in the road at ///portfolio.sports.full, take the left path heading slightly downhill. The path meanders on for a while, and then you’re presented with a track running off to the left as the main path bends right at ///cassettes.vegetable.twisty. This track will put you in Puck’s Glen part way through the gorge walk. However, if you keep to the main path at this point, it will bend back to the left and bring you to another track, this time signposted for Puck’s glen, at ///cackling.rings.secure. This is the best choice to absorb the full majesty of Pucks Glen, which is the most popular short walk in all of Cowal.
This path follows the stream as it flows down to the road level. It begins immediately with stairs cut into the rock leading you down into the gorge. There are some beautiful waterfalls and bridges criss-crossing the water. The surface underfoot is uneven and can be wet and mossy, however there are handrails and barriers at the trickiest spots. Cyclists will have to forego this pleasure and continue on the main path, which eventually joins the road at ///elastic.ethic.evidence, where you’ll need to join the road heading south, picking up the start of the next stage at ///alpha.snowboard.crockery. This adds an extra 3 miles to the trip.
Eventually you arrive at ///dialect.vies.solving, where an evenly surfaced path leads to the left (signposted Puck’s Glen Car Park) and the right (signposted Benmore Botanic Gardens). Take the path right towards Benmore and you will shortly arrive at a junction near ///dished.documents.built: straight on towards Benmore, left for a farm shop selling fresh eggs and preserves, or right towards the A815. It’s the right turn we want, it crosses the road at ///shuttled.spicy.noises and leads to the car-park outside Uig Hall.
Stage 2: Glen Massan to Clachaig
Cross the road and follow the path down to Uig Hall (on your left) keep to the right and you’ll see that the path continues down toward the river. Stay right until the path takes you to a bridge crossing the River Eachaig. At the end of that bridge (///superhero.pans.owns) turn left. This path will lead you to a junction with the Glen Massan road near Deer Park, at ///barbarian.anchors.doted, where you’ll be presented once again with the option to turn left or right. Turn left again and follow this road as it wends south toward Dalinlongart.
This is the main and only road into Glen Massan and there will be some traffic but this is usually quite light. Follow the road almost to it’s end; the last option to leave this road, before it rejoins the A815, presents itself at ///standing.songbirds.passively. Here there’s a road striking off to the right. It’s marked as a private road because it leads through a beautifully well-kept private estate before it links back up to the core-paths around Glenkin. Thanks to the Scottish Right to Roam Act, you are permitted to travel on foot over private roads, but please be respectful. If you’re uncomfortable doing so, you could instead rejoin the A815 and then turn right on the B836, following this to the beginning of the next stage (at ///inferior.appetite.threading), but this will add significantly to the journey.
Otherwise, follow the private road from ///glorified.grain.farmland to ///calendars.bombard.thumps, where you’ll take the right turn up a tree-lined driveway toward Ballochyle House. As you approach the house, the path forks. Take the left fork, which leads you out of the estate and back onto rough surfaced forestry roads. This path climbs gently uphill, reaches a junction at ///overhear.originate.recovery and, if you carry straight on, leads you to a wooden bridge at ///sleepless.view.graver.
Cross the bridge then turn left. This track leads you alongside the local venison supplier, Winston Churchill, and the next junction you see (at ///assembles.tweaked.barmaid) leads either onto his property or away toward the B836. Turn left and head toward the junction with the B836 at ///grudging.mere.lifts. Turn left again here, and follow the road for a short distance to a gate on right-hand side of the road at ///stylists.escaping.lasts. The path beyond this gate leads to a wee car-park and another (newer) metal barrier, which marks the beginning of the core-paths into Glenkin.
Stage 3: Glenkin to Ardnadam
Walk (or cycle) around the metal barrier at ///nightcap.fabricate.decks to begin the final stage of this pilgrimage. The majority of this section is on wide, roughly surfaced forestry roads. Follow the road south east until you reach a junction at ///liner.pickles.drawn. Here turn left, heading back on yourself for a short while, then switching to an easterly heading after crossing the gate at ///products.eyeliner.bumps.
Follow the road as it gently ascends. There’s a junction at ///hairpin.promotion.storeroom signposted for Glenkin (switching back to your right) or Sandbank (straight on). Continue straight on until you reach another junction at ///treatment.became.chuckling (photographed from the opposite site at ///possibly.splinters.opposites) Here, you’ll see an elevated wooden bird hide on your left, with a road branching left just after it. Ignore that road and continue straight ahead on a southeasterly bearing.
Eventually you’ll come to another junction near ///unframed.stand.snowstorm, where you want to take the path leading downhill to your left. If the trees have been felled here, there are great views over Dunoon and the Clyde estuary to be had. This road descends at a good pace, heading due north, before eventually bending back round to face south, where it deposits you at ///future.yesterday.slightly; the beginning of the Ardnadam Heritage Trail.
It’s worth remembering at this point, that there’s a neolithic cairn not far from here, which might make for an interesting diversion before completing this leg of the Cowal Pilgrimage. It can be found by turning left at the start of the trail, following the poorly surfaced road north east to a junction at ///moment.idea.severe, then turning left again (north now) and following this road until it reaches a residential area. The so-called “Adam’s Grave” can be been in a field to your right, at ///ledge.strikers.dealings.
Return to the information board and take the path through the woodland. This is a slightly overgrown trail, which can be muddy in places, and it makes use of wooden footbridges to cross the many stream and burns that intersect it. Although some of the bridges are in state of disrepair, it’s a relatively straightforward path to follow. The site of Ardnadam Chapel opens up on your left after about 20 – 30 mins of strolling through tranquil scenes. The first thing you’ll see are interpretation boards at ///magical.marriage.crafts and ///obligated.store.input.