Adventure up gentle hills and along pebble beaches
The forest roads and paths that criss-cross the woods running down to the loch shore are ideal for walking, cycling and horse-riding – and there are plenty of scenic picnic spots to enjoy the views or watch for wildlife.
Ardcastle is part of Kilmichael Forest, which stretches between Lochgilphead and Minard. This is a busy working forest, producing many thousand tonnes of timber each year, much of which is used to make paper. There are plenty of peaceful places in this large forest for taking in the views, looking out for wildlife or enjoying trails on foot, bike or horse-back.
Keep an eye out for common seals on the loch, and red squirrels and deer in the forest. You’ll find the ancient and atmospheric ruins of St Bride’s Chapel amongst the trees here too.
Forest road upgrade works taking place in Ardcastle until early January 2019. Part of the yellow Ardcastle Point Trail is closed during the upgrade, however other areas of the forest are still open for access. More information will be on site at the main car park.
A refreshing walk to take in the sights and smells of the atmospheric spruce forest, which is home to both roe and sika deer.
Uneven gravel and grassy surface with several muddy sections. One steep slope by the car park.
Allow 1 hour
Hazel Burn Trail
Wind through the woods to discover where the burn that flows from Lochan Dubh in the hills above Ardcastle meets the shore of Loch Fyne.
Uneven gravel and grassy surface, with some steep slopes. Includes some very muddy sections.
Allow 2 hours
Wind through the woods to discover where the burn that flows from Lochan Dubh (the ‘little black loch’) in the hills above Ardcastle meets the sea. The trail follows a path above the pebbly beach beside Loch Fyne. It’s a perfect spot to relax and admire the across to the Cowal peninsula. Watch out for seals, seabirds and maybe even an otter.
Ardcastle Point Trail
For the more adventurous, this trail takes in many of Ardcastle Forest’s highlights, including a meander along the water’s edge of Loch Gair and Loch Fyne. Stop to take in the views across the water to the Cowal peninsula from the pebbly beach or at the two picnic sites along the way.
Uneven grassy paths with long muddy sections. Short rough, narrow path out to Ardcastle Point. Several steep slopes. Mostly wide, with some low branches.
Allow 3½ hours
Watch out for seals, seabirds and otters off the beach and spot butterflies in summertime at the sand quarry. This trail also leads you past the ruins of ancient St Bride’s Chapel and its small graveyard, overlooking Loch Gair. The trail also rises above the shoreline to avoid the working timber pier.
Cycling and horse-riding at Ardcastle
The network of forest roads and paths here is perfect for exploring by bike or on horseback, with plenty of forest roads to choose from as you cycle through the trees near the shores of Loch Fyne.
The mix of woods and water here means this place is bursting with wildlife. You’re quite likely to see roe and sika deer, as well as red squirrels in the forest. There are pine marten here too, but you’re more likely to find evidence they’ve been here in the form of a black poo or scat than to see them…
Down by the lochside, look out for common seals and rafts of eider ducks diving for shellfish - the chunky black and white males are particularly distinctive. You may even spot an otter hunting for food along the water’s edge.
Facilities & access
Pick up a few essentials
You can find refreshments at nearby Minard village, plus public toilets and plenty of places to eat, drink and shop at Lochgilphead.
Ardcastle is on the A83 between Lochgair and Minard, on the western shore of Loch Fyne. From Lochgilphead, look for the turning for Ardcastle car park about 2 miles (3km) after Lochgair. From the north, the turning is about 3½ miles (5.5km) beyond Minard. The car park is at grid reference NR 942 919.
PA31 8SB is the nearest postcode, but please note that this in Lochgair village.
There are regular buses between Glasgow and Campbeltown via Lochgilphead that stop at Lochgair and Minard. Find details at Traveline Scotland.
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