Scotland’s Argyll Forest Park became the first British Forest Park in 1935, and the reasons why will be clear to visitors. The park is filled with pristine lochs, mountains, forests and glens. Located in the northern area of Scotland’s rugged and rural Cowal Peninsula, the park sits between Loch Long and Loch Fyne. The park’s dramatic landscape is set in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park and extends from Holy Loch to Loch Lomond.
The park covers 60,000 acres of land and includes the entirety of Loch Eck, a long and narrow loch. The park's year-round visiting options offer many opportunities to enjoy the area's natural wildlife and diverse habitats. Its unspoilt environment means it offers ideal viewing of species like birds of prey and red deer. You can also find good fishing in freshwater lochs like Loch Eck, and dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks swim in the sea lochs nearby.
Such a location offers a number of outdoor activities, including fishing, walking, horse riding, climbing, cycling and simply taking in the beautiful vistas. The walking options are varied and routes can be found for those wanting an easy stroll as well as those eager for exploring more rugged and challenging terrain.
The Arrochar Alps, found north of Glen Croe, are well known for good climbing and include Ben Arthur (also known as 'The Cobbler'), which stands at 2,891 feet. The area also contains many off-road cycle trails of varying difficulty and forest paths for horse riding. Visitors can venture into the park on their own to take advantage of the magnificent scenery, or they can turn to activity centres like the Benmore Centre for Outdoor Education and the Ardentinny Outdoor Education Centre, which also offers a number of water sports opportunities.
The surrounding area is spoilt for choice of accommodation, including hotels, bed and breakfasts and self catering thatched cottages, chalets or log cabins. Other nearby attractions are the Trossachs and Loch Lomond. The nearby Benmore Botanic Gardens offer an amazing array of flowering trees and shrubs. Highlights include more than 300 species of rhododendron and the garden entrance of a stunning 'avenue' of redwood trees.
Argyll Forest Park is approximately one hour from Glasgow and its relative remoteness means the journey can seem imposing but there are two equally interesting routes. Travellers can either take the M8 to Gourock or Greenock and then take a ferry from there or drive along the A82 up Loch Lomond's western side to Arrochar. While the park is near small hamlets and villages like Glenbranter, Ardentinny and Lochgoilhead, the nearest town to the park is the former Victorian holiday resort town of Dunoon. Home to the region’s best shopping and dining, Dunoon also hosts the Cowal Highland Gathering, the largest Highland games in the world, on the last weekend of August each year. Excellent angling can also be found on the piers of Dunoon or other areas on the shores of the Firth of Clyde.