East Cowal Heritage Outdoors
Welcome to the ECHO Trails project that highlights and showcases the rich heritage and spectacular scenery of the east Cowal peninsula.
Bounded to the north by a section of the Cowal Way and to the south by Holy Loch and Loch Long, the ECHO Trails encompass the Shore Villages of Kilmun, Strone, Blairmore and Ardentinny as well as Glen Massan, Lochgoilhead, Inverchapel and Loch Eck.
The ECHO Trails feature hundreds of miles of walking and cycling paths in and around the Argyll Forest Park, the UK’s oldest managed forest and the stunning Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park. Click through for information about a few selected walks and trails.
Download the ECHO Trails Leaflet:
From exploring the enchanting Puck’s Glen and Glenbranter to discovering all about the Clan Campbell and medical pioneer Elizabeth Blackwell, there’s so much to see and do in this small corner of Argyll including superb food and drink venues and a geocaching trail. Head to our landmarks page or regularly updated information about key places of interest.
Accessed by car and passenger ferries from Dunoon or via road through the breathtaking Rest and Be Thankful mountain pass, the ECHO Trails are just 90 minutes from Glasgow and represent a true gateway to the Scottish Highlands.
You can find out more about the history behind the many ECHO Trails landmarks, walks and paths by downloading the free “ECHO Trails” app from the Apple app store or Google Play store.
Become an ECHO Trails blazer today and uncover over 3000 years of human history as well as some of the most impressive vistas on Scotland’s west coast!
Where Are We?
The Cowal Peninsula
Cowal is a small peninsula in the west of Scotland. It is part of Argyll & Bute in the Scottish Highlands. Bounded on the east by the Firth of Clyde and on the west by Loch Fyne. Cowal is only 90 minutes travel from Glasgow.
The Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park extends into the northeast of Cowal, and Argyll Forest Park covers much of the north. The south of the peninsula is divided into three prongs by way of two sea lochs (Loch Striven and Loch Riddon), and the Isle of Bute is clutched in between the outer prongs.
The biggest town on the peninsula is Dunoon, in the south east. Dunoon has been a popular holiday destination since Victorian times, and the grand architecture and stately houses attest to this.
Our project focuses on the area between Loch Eck & Glen Massan to the west, and Loch Long, & Loch Goil to the east. You might mark Holy Loch & Ardtaraig as the southern border and Invernoaden & Lochgoilhead as the northern limit.
These are very much ad-hoc boundaries, however, designed to make sure the ECHO project has a manageable focus to begin with. If it makes sense to extend our trails to heritage hotspots slightly outwith these bounds in the future, then so be it!
The largest community in this area is ‘The Shore’, which runs along the northern shore of Holy Loch, from Ardbeg right round to Ardentinny. The most active heritage site in this area is Historic Kilmun, which started out as the restoration of the Campbell mausoleum attached to what was Kilmun Church in 2010.
Nowadays, Historic Kilmun manage the whole site; mausoleum, church and visitor centre. The layers of history on that one site alone have earned the reputation of ‘a potted history of Scotland’. Enriching this already fantastic offering, they partner both with us at the ECHO trail and with Faith in Cowal, a pilgrim project that spans the whole of Cowal.
The result is that Historic Kilmun has become a thriving heritage hub, with many walking trails starting or ending there, and inside, amongst the historic stained glass windows and ancient carved stone, is a huge touchscreen information point with information about all three projects.
The Visitor Centre there is also where you’ll collect printed maps of our trails, so it really is a must! (Maps can also be collected from Bookpoint, the local independent bookstore in Dunoon).
If you’re coming to Cowal by public transport from Glasgow or the central belt, then we recommend getting a train to Gourock and then using the Calmac passenger ferry to reach Dunoon. From there, the 489 bus runs a regular service toward Kilmun and Ardentinny, some of which make extra stops at Puck’s Glen and Benmore Gardens.
If you are coming to Dunoon by car, from the Edinburgh or Glasgow areas, then your Sat-Nav will likely bring you in by way of the car ferry from McInroy’s Point in Gourock.
Western Ferries operate a very reliable and very regular service from early morning to late evening, at least every half hour at the busiest times of the day. If you stop at Paul’s Food & Wine in Gourock, you can pick up discounted ferry tickets. Alternatively, they can be purchased online:
Fancy the scenic route?
If you’re travelling from North of the river Clyde (or you just want to take the scenic route out of Glasgow) then you’re in for a treat! The Cowal peninsula has some amazing views whichever direction you come from, so you’re sure to be rewarded.
Follow signs for Loch Lomond National Park, taking the A82 over Erskine Bridge. Follow the A82 into Tarbet, then take the A83 through Arrochar and over Rest And Be Thankful (good photo spot). Take the A815 onto the Cowal Peninsula and follow the shores of Loch Eck toward Dunoon, then finally turn left onto the A880 (signposted ‘Historic Kilmun’) just before the fuel station at Cot House.
Journey time around 2 hrs.
From Fort William/North West:
Follow the A82 South through Glencoe and Bridge of Orchy (stunning views) then via Tyndrum take the A85, A819 and A83 through Inveraray towards Cairndow.
Finally, onto the Cowal Peninsula and follow the shores of Loch Eck toward Dunoon, then finally turn left onto the A880 (signposted ‘Historic Kilmun’) just before the fuel station at Cot House.
Journey time around 2hrs 30mins.