Taking to the open road, a self-propelled and self-sufficient trek. An opportunity to absorb the surroundings at a moderate pace. As opposed to going totally off grid, a night’s camp was enjoyed at the Glendaruel Caravan Park where there are facilities available such as toilets and showers. There is also an undercover camper’s shelter with, hot and cold running water.
Saturday, Outward Bound: Ardnadam Pier – Glendaruel Caravan Park (26 miles).
A circular route starting off from the shores of the Holy Loch (free carpark at Ardnadam Pier), taking to the public road via the A815 and the Glenmassan C class road. Leaving the public road prior to Deer Park and opting for the forestry road that follows the River Echaig to Benmore Gardens with its Café – approx. 4.3 miles from start.
The road continues through the Benmore estate then northwards towards the outfall of Loch Eck, the vistas opening up as the steep hills flank either side of the loch. The forestry road through to Glenbranter is mostly undulating, perhaps a few climbs but they don’t raise any major concerns. The local Forestry Commission offices are located in Glenbranter, an opportunity to regroup, stop for a break and use the facilities – approx. 13.5 miles from the start and the mid-way point.
After a break it’s time to tackle the climb out of Glenbranter heading for Garvie Farm – this section encompasses part of the Cowal Way . The initial and steepest part of the climb lasts for approximately 0.5 miles before lessening for the remaining 3, there is no shame whatsoever in dismounting and pushing to the summit – the sense of achievement is still the same. On the flip side, what goes up must come down, the rest of the journey to Garvie Farm is a breeze with only one short lived climb to contend with.
Leaving Garvie Farm (approx. 22 miles from start) a short section of the A886 is covered prior to turning on to the West Glendaruel public road. The West Glen road is single track with passing places, not that you’ll meet much traffic. Again, no noticeable climbs worth mentioning.
On arrival at the Glendaruel Caravan site, a wee rest, then pitching of the tents prior to something to eat and refreshments.
Sunday: Refreshed, fed, watered and ready to roll! Well 3 out of 4 isn’t bad. The fact that the home stretch is 9 miles less than the previous day is encouraging for a start. Sunday’s roads were all public surfaced road, initially on the West Glen Road till it meets with the junction of the A886 then onto the B836 before re-joining the familiar A815.
The West Glen road is undulating and progress easy. The A886 starts off downhill to the A8003 junction then a steady gradual climb towards Stronafian.
The B836 junction, reached at approximately 4 miles from the start is a different beast however, a beast that can be tamed! It has two noticeable gradual climbs, again the laws of physics apply and what goes up must come down. The smooth surface helps with progress and the climbs are not as hard going as originally thought.
The climbs are both similar in distance and elevation, roughly one and quarter miles (2kms) with a gain of 400ft (120mts). The first being from the B836 junction to the top of the ‘Long Brae’, the second being from Ardtariag to Tarsan Dam. As before, there is no shame in dismounting for a push or a rest – these should be promoted as photo opportunities! There are ample stop off points to allow regrouping and a break to refuel.
Enough of climbs, now for the fun bits…..descents. After the first climb the descent is a steep and fast one. Brakes should be in tip top condition as the gradient will have them working, care must be taken. The second descent is a more gradual affair, from Tarsan Dam down, through the flats to Clachaig then to the A815. A welcome easy run after the epic (perhaps too strong a word) taming of the climbs. The return via the A815 on to its shore road to the carpark is uneventful.
An epic wee adventure, from sea loch to fresh water loch, from East Cowal to West Cowal, a night under canvas……and back.
Thanks to Iain for attending and helping organise the weekend, also thanks to Fin and James for their company and keeping me right.
Glendaruel Caravan Park provides an excellent base for exploring the area, offers a variety of accommodation and there is always a warm welcome.
An excellent walk whilst in the area is accessed from the back road at the caravan park – Lochan Chuilceachan