WALKS AROUND LOCHGAIR
There are several options for enjoyable walking in and around Lochgair.
Short walks offering fine views begin from Upper and Lower Lochgair.
The information provided here is for guidance only. Please follow normal walking safety measures: tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return, wear clothing and footwear appropriate for the weather (which can change rapidly) and terrain and carry a map and mobile phone – although signal in the area can be patchy.
Maps of these walks will be available here soon.
WALKS FROM LOCHGAIR
Those above the A83 main road wind up above the village and bay to provide views of distant lochs and hills. Those below pass by the bay or through woodland to the shore of Loch Fyne, providing open views to the north of the mountains at the head of the loch and the hills of Kintyre to the south.
Less than a hundred years ago these paths would have provided the sights and sounds of village activity unchanged from the 19thcentury – a working sawmill, fishing nets and boats drawn up on the beach, children’s voices. Now modern homes and gardens lie quietly either side of the main road between Lochgilphead and Inveraray and local yachts sit at moorings in the bay.
A circular walk begins in Upper Lochgair by the gate to Knock Steading, and ascends through trees to viewpoints after c800m. From there, a right hand fork continues the ascent upward for another 300m before contouring northward two hundred feet above Upper Lochgair to a fine viewpoint directly above the bay. From there either retrace your steps back to the fork, or seek out the old ways. These are more apparent when cleared of bracken and seem familiar to deer but go otherwise unmarked through rough and sometimes very wet ground. In one direction it is possible to descend steeply back down to the village. In the opposite direction a style leads to a forest ride upward through an established plantation of trees to pick up an overgrown jeep track leading to Loch Glashan.
The left (southward) fork picks up a jeep track on Forestry Commission land to descend to the main road, from which 50m to the north a lane descends from the road to the hamlet of East Kames by the shore of Loch Fyne. From there, it is possible to return to the village either along the rocky shore to the small beach at the castle or through the newly-planted woodland.
Walks from Lower Lochgair begin by the bay near the wooden bridge, by a ford over the Eas Dubh burn that drains north into Loch Gair. After the bridge, the path continues on a level track just above sea level around the bay to the point, which marked by the Castle, a tall 19thC white building. It then turns southward to a bench recently placed overlooking the beach. Look out for the box on the bench which contains a nature diary, guides, sketchbook and drawing materials – please feel free to make use of these. From here it is possible to continue, along the shoreline of Loch Fyne as far as East Kames to join up with the other walks.
The second is a newly established walk through recently planted woodland by a family newly resident in Lochgair. Through gates in deer fencing, pleasant walking over gentle rising ground is possible that ends by the shore near East Kames.
Combined, the two offer a circular walk of around 90min (excluding the time that will vanish during wild-life watching – birds & seals invariably seen, and otters that are quite frequently sighted).
WALKS AT LOCH GLASHAN
The first of the Forestry walks lie several hundred feet above sea level, accessed from a car park on the road built 60yrs ago for the construction of the ‘hydro’ dam on Loch Glashan. The road up to its carpark starts first left on the main road north after leaving Lochgair. The walks themselves begin at a small car park half a mile below the dam.
A waymarked route offers a short (30 – 45 minutes) walk through oak and pine woodland through the valley of the Glashan Burn (AKA Abhainn Mhor). Information on this is available on the Forestry and Land Scotland website.
Alternatively, a much longer (3 to 4 hours) circular walk winds on a wide rough ‘jeep’ track for about 10 miles under open skies around the bays and headlands of Loch Glashan. It sometimes overlooks the loch and sometimes lies away from the lochside to avoid boggy ground, providing then only glimpses of the loch though the trees. As it is a long walk under open skies, with less varied views than those above, it is perhaps best suited to mountain bikes, although it also makes for an adventurous day out – take a map, waterproof clothing and a picnic.
Archaeological finds at a crannog before the dam raised the level of the loch suggest that more than a thousand years before it lay on an ancient trade pathway, from the centre of the Dalraida kingdom at Dunadd to the west, perhaps down to the sheltered shores of Lochgair below. The loch’s raised level now covers the crannog, near which the archaeological dig also discovered two logboats. On the hills to the north east the remains of a dun still overlooks the loch.
To the north, the slowly turning white sails of a wind farm signify a new source of green power for Argyll and of funding for community projects, such as the footbridge over the Eas Dubh in Lochgair and the community wildlife cameras.
On the west side of the loch, you will pass the upper reaches of the River Add, and the Add Pools. An area of wetland providing habitat for plants amphibians and invertebrates such as dragonflies.
Numerous tracks branch off from the circular route offering alternative (and even more challenging) walks, including links to Lochgilphead, the old Drover’s Road past the bothy at Carron and connections to Loch Loran and the walk above Upper Lochgair.
ARDCASTLE FOREST WALKS
The second carpark lies east of the main road out of Lochgair, in Ardcastle forest from which several marked paths begin. Marked by different coloured posts, two of these lead the way between new and old woodland to different bays on the shore of Loch Fyne, the largest of which is Loch Gair. The first villagers many have been known to those who built the crannog at Loch Glashan.
There are three marked trails. The shortest, Crag Trail, is c2km; marked by posts ringed red, it stays ‘high’ in the forest; contouring around a crag it takes around an hour.
The shorter of the two down to the shore of Loch Fyne, the Hazel Burn Trail, is twice as long and is marked by blue posts.
Marked by yellow posts, the third trail, Ardcastle Point Trail, is twice as long again, at least 3.5hrs should be allowed, not including many fine picnic spots. It offers varied views in a long circuit of Ardcastle Forest, taking in a long shoreline of Loch Fyne, a viewpoint directly opposite Point House to the south, and the northern shore of Loch Gair.
Whether starting out in a clockwise direction from the carpark (where an illustrative stand and map has been placed) or descending down from it in an anticlockwise direction, all three start together. Only the Ardcastle Forest Trail takes in views to the south, including of the village itself across the bay, and - directly in front of the trail going down to the shoreline - remains of the ancient chapel of St Brides and enclosed graveyard.
To the east a timber pier has been built for loading logs onto ships, to minimise road transportation. This reflects the high level of logging activity in Argyll; sometimes local logging may disrupt access to some of the many paths in the forest; such activity is always well marked.
More information is available on the Forestry and Land Scotland website.