Short walks and long rides in the centre of Argyll Forest Park
One of the jewels of the Forest Park, Glenbranter has trails from a short stroll among ancient oaks to a challenging all-day bike ride.
The first trees of what was to become the Argyll Forest Park were planted here in the 1920s, after entertainer Harry Lauder leased the ground to the Forestry Commission. Later, Glenbranter village was built for workers who came here to work the forests of Cowal.
A charming wander through native oak, birch and hazel woodland, and a fine avenue of cypress and beech that was planted for the Glenbranter Estate.
Firm but uneven gravel surface throughout. Includes some steep slopes and a flight of steps.
Allow ¾ hour
Part of this trail takes you through trees that were planted long ago as a backdrop to the original Estate house. The red squirrels here are some of the most active in the forest: you can often watch them scampering among the branches.
A dramatic route up the Allt Robuic gorge, where native oakwoods cloak a series of spectacular waterfalls.
Uneven gravel paths with exposed tree roots and narrow or muddy sections. Includes a number of steep slopes with flights of uneven steps. Several bridges.
Allow 1½ hours
The banks of the Allt Robuic still hold remnants of ancient oak woodland, and an impressive variety of mosses and liverworts grow in the damp air. Climb a little further up Glenbranter to the waterfalls, which are particularly spectacular after heavy rain. The trail also passes our wildlife hide: rest quietly for a few minutes and you might see red squirrels, roe deer, buzzards, woodpeckers or crossbills.
Glen Eck Trail
The stiff but rewarding ascent below Creag Bhaogh reveals wonderful views across Glen Eck to Beinn Bheula and Beinn Mhôr.
Long steep slopes for up to 500m. Firm gravel and grassy surface throughout. Includes some short flights of steps.
Allow 1½ hours
Keep an eye out for ravens, crossbills and buzzards.
A gentle taste of the wild – and all the fun of a ford!
Allow 1½ hours
This route gives a fantastic feeling of being much further out in the wilds than you actually are – it’s a great introduction to the delights of off road cycling. You might spot red and roe deer and you can have fun splashing through the ford at the head of the glen. The ride downhill back towards Glenbranter will give you plenty of time to admire the views of Beinn Bheula and Beinn Laggan across the glen.
Firm forest road with some loose material. Soft going in places after heavy rain. Mainly gentle slopes. The ford halfway round can be impassable after heavy rain.
Loch Eck Loop
A grand – and demanding – day out, with some of the best views in Cowal.
Allow 6 hours
A real treat for those determined (and fit) enough! This circular loop takes you through the forests fringing Loch Eck, which sits in a gully left over from the last ice age and is now the main water source for Dunoon.
Most riders start and finish the loop at Glenbranter, heading clockwise by crossing the A815 and climbing up the forest track at Invernoaden. It’s a sustained climb, better done while your legs are fresh, and the reward is some of the best views in Cowal. You can look down on to Loch Eck, Dunoon and the Clyde, and west to Beinn Mhor. On a clear day you’ll see the west coast and the islands of Jura and Islay.
Mostly forest road, with a short section of the A815 between Glenbranter and Invernoaden and single track sections at Inverchapel and Benmore. Very steep slopes in places.
Take time out at our wildlife hide. Sit quietly and see what forest birds and creatures you can spot.
Facilities & access
There are public toilets atached to the Glenbranter Forest Office, where you can also pick up a map. If any staff are in, we'll be happy to offer assistance if you need it.
Festive Family Forest Fun
Glenbranter host a day of Festive Family Forest Fun on Saturday 7 December, featuring local crafts, a Festive Forest Trail, and activities including decoration-making and activities for small children. Bring the kids along and pick up an all-natural Christmas Tree! Image: Slava Potik
Glenbranter is signposted from the A815, between Strachur and the north end of Loch Eck.
PA27 8DJ is the nearest postcode.
Buses between Dunoon and Strachur pass the entrance to the forest. Plan your journey at Traveline Scotland.
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