Cowal Way

  • Arrochar
  • Moorings at Ormidale
Distance (km) Ascent (metres) Number of days
92 1810 4 - 5
Start: Portavadie, Loch Fyne Finish: Inveruglas, Loch Lomond
Linked to other Scotland’s Great Trail(s):
Kintyre Way Three Lochs Way West Highland Way
Online map

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Cowal Way (2 ed)

M Kaufmann & J McLuckie | Rucksack Readers - 2016


Route type/direction

Linear, between Portavadie and Inveruglas. Starting from Portavadie puts the prevailing (south-westerly) winds behind you, but the trail can be traversed in either direction.


The 57-mile long path passes through five small villages: Tighnabruaich, Glendaruel, Strachur, Lochgoilhead, and Arrochar. Starting from Portavadie, the experience includes stunning views over the Kyles of Bute, tranquil scenery in Glendaruel, ranging from the Clyde coast via secluded forest to open hillside with panoramic views, via the spectacular heights of the Arrochar Alps. Reaching Invergulas on Loch Lomond may be the terminus, or perhaps the chance of onward travel by water bus. The route is known as “Scotland in 57 miles” because of the variety and splendour of its scenery.


  • wildlife sightings including seals, deer, red squirrels and golden eagles
  • constant variety in its views and terrain
  • clan histories and prehistoric sites
  • quiet and remote, yet easily accessible from central Scotland
  • fully waymarked and well connected with other trails
  • friendly and helpful local people

Be aware

  • over the highest section (2 km stretch), visibility can be poor in bad weather/low cloud
  • some sections include tarmac roads, albeit very quiet roads used mainly by local farmers
  • as of 2017, a lack of eating and drinking facilities in Glendaruel

The challenge

The route is fully waymarked, and many sections of the path have recently been upgraded. About  £750,000 will have been invested in the route (2015-18) to improve the consumer experience. The path is suitable for both inexperienced and advanced walkers and mountain bikers. Its proximity to the West Highland Way creates a popular combination. Small parts of the hill sections can be challenging underfoot, in wet weather. The northern section of the path has three hills to climb, rising successively to 360, 350 and 500 m (1180, 1150 and 1640 ft).


The Cowal Way has almost 100 services businesses and attractions to choose from. However, many are seasonal (open April to October), and can be very busy during the summer season. There is a good choice of hotels, B&Bs, caravan & campsites and areas for wild camping. The official website lists them by village: Portavadie, Tighnabruaich, Glendaruel, Strachur, Lochgoilhead, Arrochar, Inveruglas.

Wild camping is legally allowed in Scotland if practised responsibly under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

 Support services

Companies offering accommodation booking and baggage transfer:

Guided tours can be also arranged by contacting the Cowal Way management:

Public transport

For detailed travel information visit the official website page. In outline, you can return from Inveruglas by Scottish Citylink bus to Glasgow (Buchanan Bus Station) but the buses are not very frequent (journey time about 75 minutes). The Inveruglas stop is called Loch Sloy Power Station.

For Portavadie, you must first reach Dunoon, either by the frequent Glasgow to Gourock train service and a 20-minute ferry (Argyll Ferries) to Dunoon, or else by McGills bus from Glasgow to Dunoon (bus ticket includes the ferry crossing). From Dunoon, take a West Coast Motors bus (478) from Dunoon pier to Portavadie (journey time an hour or more, departure times vary according to school holidays).

For details, visit Traveline Scotland, or, for the entire UK, Traveline. For travel from anywhere to anywhere, try Rome2Rio.

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