It had been twenty plus years since I last cycled this circuit from Lochgoilhead. A combination of forestry roads and single track makes ideal terrain for the bike or even a walk. The Forestry Commission have marked the 22 mile route with red marker posts,the diversion to Mark Cottage Bothy adds 3 miles. Travelling this route is best done in a clockwise direction
To quote the forestry commissions website………..
A grand tour of the wild, rugged and remote Ardgartan Peninsula with excellent views of the Clyde and the surrounding mountains. It’s a real challenge of a route: you’ll need lots of stamina for the climbs but you’ll be rewarded with fantastic views, chances to spot wildlife and of course some exhilarating downhills.
I started from Lochgoilhead,heading up Gleann Mhor adjacent to the B828, a continuous climb to the foot of Ben Donich. Once through the gate at the mast it’s mostly descent to Ardgarten.The forestry road runs parallel to the Rest and be Thankful. Instead of following the route right to the lowest section at Ardgarten I decided to follow the upper section of the Cat Craig loop. This saved a loss in altitude and a climb back out of Ardgarten. Joining a short section of surfaced road below the Coilessan car park, a quick climb leads to level ground above Loch Long.
A worthwhile diversion is a visit to Mark Cottage bothy. A bothy maintained by the Mountain Bothy Association (MBA). Situated right across from the Finnart Oil terminal,a view with a difference!
I met two couples who’d stayed the night walking their way out. When I arrived at the bothy there was a group with their bikes that’d also stayed and were just packing up for their return home. A bite to eat and a chat and I was back on the road. The 1.5 mile climb back out from the bothy was another climb I didn’t need but worth the effort.
Onwards to Corran Lochan, then the single track of the Dukes Path leading back to Lochgoilhead. A great section in amongst the hills. Some sections did require a push, but I was glad to get off the saddle now and again !
Some pictures along the way………..
Interactive map of route with further pictures CLICK HERE.
Hopefully this Thursday.
Updates should be every 5 minutes or so , starting approx’ 06:00hrs Thursday the 13th August.
Link will be posted on Explore Cowal’s Facebook and Twitter pages as I’m ready to set off.
I’ve alway wanted to take on the trail known as the Twister. This trail involves a loop round the top of Glenbranter using the forestry roads with a descent on a purpose built section of single track. Starting off and finishing at the Forestry Commissions head quarters in Glenbranter,there’s plenty of parking available.
Please see below Route Card,Pictures and Interactive Map.
If your looking for a route to build up fitness and skill,this is it !!!
Interactive Map can be found by clicking here.
GPX file for GPS units/ Viewranger App can be downloaded by clicking here ( Click on the icon top right with the three horizontal bars). You may have to register with Viewranger, but it’s free.
Found these videos in Youtube showing the sections of the Twister,ideal.
Decided to try something different,a bike followed by a hike to get to this trig point.
Parking at Glenbranter at the FCS car park, I headed off on the bike for the forestry road section. I’d found an ATV track by chance when descending from Beinn Bheag a good while back, so relocating this track for access to the hill was the next step. Remarkably I found the track, as if I was there yesterday, just as I remembered. The track too steep to cycle up, I pushed the bike the point of the washed out burn crossing then walked the remainder and onto the open hill. There’s a couple of splits in the track, two lefts and a right gets you onto the hill. The second left hand track was unknown to me as my descent on last trip came from the right, but the choice paid off.
The track took me out at the base of the hill, leaving a short and steep ascent to the trig, far easier than I thought it’d be.
Stunning views were to be had, snow covered hills and mountains all around, along with partial views over Loch Eck.
I remember seeing a mast at the top of this hill many years ago, but it had vanished and I never thought anything about it…….until I reached the summit. The control station still exists along with the dismantled mast, the internals of the station stripped out…..a good wee place to hide in extreme weather! Even if there’s no door.
After a wee wander about the tops I returned on the same route, picking up a frosty bike for the downhill return. I’m no mountain biker, mostly forestry roads but I enjoyed hanging of the back of the bike on the track section!! The forestry road hardly took a turn of the pedals to get back to the car, the quickest descent I’ve ever done!!!
Time saving and energy saving……it’s the future!!!! 😉
Interactive map and pictures HERE
Location map below.
Route:Toward Hall to Glenbranter Forestry Office.
Length: 26.2 miles 41.9 km
Ascent: +1345m -1327m
Naismith: 10h 38m (walking pace)
Terrain : Forestry road and short sections of rural paved road.
I was looking to create a route similar in distance to the Loch Eck Loop, a route that isn’t weather dependent (lower level) or to difficult to navigate but still giving rewarding views. As always staying away from public roads as much as possible and making the route manageable in smaller sections if need be. The availability of public transport is always a bonus. The route can be either cycled or walked and tackled in either direction.
A scenic route, starting from Toward, South Cowal extending to Glenbranter,south of Strachur.
Leaving Toward,heading north, passing above Innellan and Dunoon enjoying view over the Firth of Clyde. Continuing through to Glenkin and on to Glenmassan, before heading to Benmore and finishing at Glenbranter.
I’m going to aim for the 26.2 miles as that’d make it a marathon, should Cowal ever hold it’s own Marathon Trail Run
Please click HERE for interactive map.
Map will default to Auto,however there should be an option in the drop down menu (top right of map) to choose ‘Ordnance Survey GB’. If it’s not an option you may have to register with an email and password (Login). Perhaps set up an email and password (Login) for your club/group that can be shared.
0 miles to 9.5 miles.
Had an afternoon off work, so managed to cover the south section of Route 26. Toward Hall to the link bridge in Bishops Glen,Dunoon. Works in at exactly 9.5 miles.
Got to Toward via a lift but there is a bus service that takes you to the start point.
Further route info available on an interactive map with Route,Statistics and Pictures, click below.
Interactive map HERE.
Pictures from walk,due to light and conditions pictures aren’t the best but give an idea of views and route.
9.5 to 17.65 miles
A wet and windy Sunday morning! Might as well record some of the route in the worst conditions!!
Started off where section 1 finished at the link bridge at the Bishops Glen. This route takes in, Dunoon, Sandbank, Glenkin, Ballochyle, Lower Glenmassan and Benmore with lots to see ( weather permitting ).
Bridge to Bridge came in at 8.15 miles and took me 2hr 45mins, that’s including stopping for pics but little else in the conditions.
See below for pictures and interactive map.
Viewranger have made it possible to view pictures from the route rather than the track only. Clicking on the camera icon at each location should bring up a picture below the map. You can zoom in and out and pan round the map. Any feedback welcome on this mapping system.
INTERACTIVE MAP BY CLICKING HERE
17.65 to 26.2
I finally got round to recording the final section of route 26. This section starts off at Benmore Gardens and finishes at Glenbranter. A scenic loch side journey.
The mathematics were done,I needed 8.55 miles to get the the 26.2 from the bridge at Benmore. Now,whilst it’s not an exact science but this distance brought me to a forestry gate,right in front of Glenshellish farm……an excellent finishing point.
Interactive map with pictures can be found by clicking HERE. It’s for the full Loch Eck Loop but details the western flank of the loch for Route 26. Could always continue and make the route an Ultra!! (38.5ish miles).
There marks the end of Route 26. Its an extra half mile to the Forestry Commissions office.
Now just to piece it all together in one run and report back.
Some scenic footage of sections 2 & 3. Dunoon to Glenbranter.