Leave the world behind at Glenbranter
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 forest workers who came here to work the forests of Cowal.
Our guide to Argyll Forest Park will help you explore Glenbranter and other woodlands in this wonderful part of Scotland.
You’ll notice disinfectant mats at the entrance/exit to some of our trails. This helps minimise the spread of tree disease and keeps our forests healthy for the future. Please use them to clean any boots, paws or wheels.
The information room, where you can find out more about Glenbranter’s history, is usually open to the public between 10am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. If it’s closed, please call at the forest office next door: if any staff are in, we’ll be happy to help.
Looking for a bite to eat nearby?
The nearest places to eat are in Strachur village to the north, or Dunoon to the south.
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.
1 miles / 1.5 km 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.
2 ¼ miles / 3.6 km 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.
2 miles / 3.2 km Allow 1½ hours
Keep an eye out for ravens, crossbills and buzzards.
Please note, due to a large number of windblown trees this trail now has a long term diversion in place which adds significant climbs and distance to the route.
Cycling - 6.9 miles / 11.0 km
A gentle taste of the wild – and all the fun of a ford!More information...
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
Cycling - 21.8 miles / 35.0 km
A grand – and demanding – day out, with some of the best views in Cowal.More information...
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.
Mountain biking trails
A place with a story
Glenbranter has a fascinating history. Visit the information room to find out about its past as a prisoner of war camp, and how Sir Harry Lauder bought the estate as a country retreat. He loved the place and built a monument here to his son, who was killed in the First World War.
You'll also find a red squirrel viewing camera, giving a fly-on-the-wall view of these perky creatures.
How to get here
From Glasgow you can either:
- Travel to Gourock and take the car ferry to Dunoon. Turn right (north) out of the terminal onto the A815. Glenbranter is on your left after about 13 miles (21 km).
- Or take the A82 north along the shore of Loch Lomond. Turn onto the A83 at Tarbet and continue until the junction with the A815. Turn left and continue on this road, following signs for Dunoon. Glenbranter is about 2½ miles (4 km) south of the village of Strachur.
The car park is at grid reference NS 111 976.
PA27 8DJ is the nearest postcode.
Buses between Dunoon and Strachur pass the entrance to the forest. You’ll find details of public transport at Traveline Scotland.
The Argyll Forest Park covers much of Cowal, and has more fabulous forests to discover.
Benmore Botanic Garden is about 8 miles / 5 km along the A815 towards Dunoon. It has a wonderful collection of trees and other plants in a spectacular setting.
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For questions and complaints, please contact us directly.