Dunoon is one of the best places to recharge yourself if you’re looking for a weekend getaway to take on exploring and adventures either solo, with your love or with your family. Located in the region of Argyll in the Cowal peninsula in Scotland, 1.5 hours from Glasgow even by public transport, this town will make it on your top list especially if you’re happen to be a nature lover, just like me.
The bonnie Town of Dunoon became a holiday resort on 1824 when lord Provost Ewing bought the land around a ruined medieval castle and built his own holiday getaway there.
Dunoon offers everything you might need on a long weekend. One of the best (and free) parts of my trip here was hiking up the mountains and enjoying the scenic bay views. If you’d like to spend your says active walking and hiking are always great but you have great roads for cycling or try kayaking, paddle boarding, quad biking from the many water activities offered.
The castle museum is just off the pier. If you come by train and take the ferry it will be the first thing you set your eyes on and immediately will feel as you found yourself on a movie set.
Local Studio Cinema never fails to entertain on a rainy day (which happens to be almost every day around this time of the year) on family friendly prices. The staff is so welcoming I felt like a local each time I visited to watch a nice movie.
I guarantee that one of your favorite trips here will be to Gantocks lighthouse and the famous Sugar Wreck, also called The Captayannis, which is a Greek sugar carrying vessel that sank in 1974.
Benmore botanic garden
More than 100 acres of this spectacular botanic garden features one of the tallest trees in Britain and a magnificent avenue of redwoods over 40 meters high and 150 years old each! Benmore also had a dedicated area for over 250 species of rhododendrons (even from the Himalayas) of you’re interested in nature and its rare beauties.
Near Benmore botanic garden, you’ll find Puck’s Glen in Argyll forest park, which was voted to be one of Scotlands most stunning walks. A trail runs through this magical looking valley, laced with small waterfalls and despite it being a short walk you can spend hours here Simply being enchanted by the beauty of nature.
Argyll forest is one of the oldest and probably most beautiful parks in the UK and has amazing wildlife! You might encounter on your hikes or climb red squirrels, deers, golden eagles or even buzzards. You might come across seal’s, otters and porpoises in the loch as well if you wonder around the shores of Ardgartan.
If you get hungry on the fresh air after so much hiking and sightseeing (and I bet you will) there’s a fair number of restaurants, cafés and pubs where you can enjoy to best local dishes.
As vegetarian or vegan there are plenty of restaurants and cafés offering alternatives. Whistlefield Inn had 4 vegan main dishes and 2 vegan desserts when I was there. The Swallow Cafe has a small vegan section on their menu (vegan lasagna, burger, jackfruit Balti, cakes) and The Crown also provides you with a vegan menu upon asking, and js also a nice dog friendly place. Burg Hall Cafe has a pescatarian menu with nice vegan options.
I arrived too late to enjoy one of the biggest and most spectacular Highland games in the world, Cowal Highland Gathering (dates back to 1894) which is the perfect event to showcase Scottish traditions. To enjoy the parade, pipes, drummers and fireworks of Cowal Games arrive in August on the last weekend of the month.
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Photo: Imola Toth