Enter the ethereal Puck's Glen
Step into a world of mischievous nature sprites and magical beings in the fabulous Puck's Glen. The forest's moist shady undergrowth and delicious dark atmosphere is great fun to explore. There are two trails here: one winds through the enchanting gorge with its tumbling waterfalls; the other takes a longer route to great viewpoints and some of the finest rhododendron displays in the country.
Our guide to Argyll Forest Park will help you explore Puck's Glen 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.
Time to warm up
The nearest place for a cup of tea is the Benmore Garden Café. Check their opening times before you go, especially in winter. You can find other places to eat and public toilets in Dunoon (6 miles / 9.6 km away).
Puck's Glen Gorge Trail
A magical trail that winds along a Victorian walkway up the dramatic rocky gorge that is said to be home to mischievous spirits. Pass several waterfalls beneath the towering Douglas firs. During your visit, keep a sharp eye out and you might just spot the mystical Ghillie Dhu!
Firm but uneven gravel paths, with some rough, rocky and narrow sections. Several steep slopes and long flights of rough steps. Includes numerous bridges and some wet sections after rain.
1 ¾ miles / 2.8 km Allow 1 hour
Deservedly the most popular walk on the Cowal peninsula and particularly spectacular after rain. The steep, narrow gorge with its arched wooden bridges and rocky steps is thrilling and full of atmosphere. As you climb past tumbling waterfalls and gushing waters you'll sense the huge trees towering overhead and see sumptuous ferns and fungi thriving on the forest floor. This is a place of fantasy and fun, whatever your age.
If it's been raining, wear waterproofs and be prepared for slippery, wet conditions.
Mountain biking trails
A sugar-merchant’s dream
The paths here were first developed by James Duncan, a sugar merchant, scientist and art-collector from Greenock, who owned the Benmore Estate in the 1870s. He wanted the glen to be a wild, magical, place that would intrigue his visitors. The paths originally led up the glen to Puck's Hut, an intriguing octagonal building now on view in Benmore Botanic Garden.
Puck is a mischievous nature sprite in folklore and a character in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Half close your eyes and you'll soon see fairies and other magical beings cavorting in the forest's dark shadows.
The cool, moist environment here is similar to what you’d find in the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest in Canada and the USA. The range of tree species is similar too, because seeds collected there in the 1800s were planted here. After 150 years of growth and decay the forest eco system in Puck's Glen is wonderfully diverse and vibrant. It's the closest thing to a temperate rain forest this side of the Atlantic.
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 and after 6 miles / 9.6 km turn left towards Glenbranter. Puck's Glen car park is on your right.
- Or take the A82 north to Loch Lomond. Turn onto the A83 at Tarbet and continue until the junction with the A815. Turn left and pass the villages of Strachur and Glenbranter. Continue for 12 miles / 19.3 km: Puck's Glen car park is on your left.
The car park is at grid reference NS 146 839
PA23 8QT is the nearest postcode
You’ll find details of public transport at Traveline Scotland.
Puck's Glen is connected to the forest trails of Benmore. You can start some of the longer trails from either Benmore or Puck's Glen car parks. A forest road also connects with Kilmun Arboretum in the south and Loch Eck in the north (these routes are not waymarked and you will need an OS map to follow them).
All these places are part of the Argyll Forest Park, which has eight more fabulous forests to discover.
Benmore Botanic Garden is just one mile (1.6 km) to the north, along the road towards Loch Fyne. It has a magnificent collection of trees and other plants in a dramatic setting.
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