The Walk…Ardgowan woodland bluebell walk
by Rona Simpson
Terrain: Mostly flat, some road, some forest tracks & some coastal path
Distance: Longer route about 5 or 6km – although shorter routes are possible
Getting there: Park at the Marina then make your way to the beach to begin the walk
This walk is steeped in history and bathed in glorious Scottish views. If you are lucky enough to come in April/May, you will hopefully get a chance to see the bluebells which carpet the woodland floor each year.
Start from the Beach path and follow the coastal path past the Laird’s Dyke towards Lunderston Bay. On a clear day the views across to Dunoon and the Argyle hills are spectacular on this part of the coastal path.
Return the way you came for about a kilometre and then if there are no sheep with lambs, there is the opportunity to cross a field into the woodland area opposite via a gate.
From here follow the trails in any way you please. On route you could choose to take in the 15th century castle tower originally part of Ardgowan Castle (see Map). Previous to this there was a wooden fortification on the same site, used to ward off Vikings. This was an important battleground for Robert the Bruce who fought the English here in 1314 and ended 10 years of their occupation.
Keep heading west to return to Laird’s Dyke Cove and the beginning of your walk.
There is a wide variety of trees to discover on this estate. Many of them are designated ‘Ancient of Semi-Natural origin’. From natives such as oak and beech (debatable, I know) to more exotic types such as Corsican Pine, Japanese Larch and American Sitka Spruce. There are many ornamentals including a variety of Rhododendrons.
Laird’s Dyke Cove
This cove was used by smugglers in the 18th century to save them paying the excise taxes just down the coast! The goods were then stored in the Sheilhill Glen caves. The Dyke was built by the Laird in the beginning of the 19th Century as a place to moor his yaugh. There was a bathing house here too, the remains of which can still be seen.
This was built by Robert Adams between 1797 and 1801. It is a grade A listed building and has been owned by the same family – The Shaw-Stewarts – for over 600 years. They are direct descendants of King Robert III of Scotland. Within the precious items stored within its walls is a hat purportedly belonging to Napoleon!