Short forestry walk from Crinan with a view across the sound of Jura and Scarba
Kilmartin is famous for its density of prehistoric monuments and historical sites in Scotland. Its fascinating archaeology attracts many history lovers. Beside history attraction, the area within The Heart of Argyll offers some beautiful short forestry walks. You can find one of them at Crinan. This trail starts from picturesque Crinan Harbour and ascends to Castle Dounie, an Iron Age Fort on a high hilltop above Crinan. There are panoramic views over the Crinan basin and across the sound to Jura and Scarba, divided by the famous Gulf of Corryvreckan and its whirlpool.
How to get there
Coordinates to the Crinan Harbour car park: 56° 5’19.63″N and 5°33’50.64″W. Google maps: 56.088753, -5.564077. The nearest postcode is PA31 8SS.
To get to Crinan follow the B841 road from Lochgilphead, on the Western Coast of Scotland. The last couple of miles into Crinan are along narrow single track roads. The Crinan Trail starts at the Crinan Harbour parking.
By public transport
There are regular buses between Lochgilphead and Tayvallich, which stop at Crinan. The service number is 425/426 and is run by West Coat Motors. See the timetable here.
Distance: 6.5km (4 miles), ascent: 255m, 2.5 hours
At the car park is an information board about the walk, which is waymarked. The trail begins from a signpost back along the road, after the bungalow. First, it takes you to the pebbly shore and then into the forest. The trail runs parallel to the beach for some distance.
When you reach a wooden bench, the trail bends to the left and begins to climb steeply. When you reach a forestry track turn right and at a signed junction turn left (marked “Forest walk”). The trail now heads inland. Follow the trail until you reach a t-junction. Turn left here and climb up to a summit viewpoint. At the top of the hill are the remains of “Castle Dounie” (iron-age hill-fort). Here you can enjoy the views across the sound to Jura and Scarba.
Return the same way to the trail junction and continue straight ahead. Descend is quite steep. When you reach a forestry track, turn right. After around 700m, when a track curves to the right, you reach a bench on the left side. Here you can enjoy the best views.
Follow the forest track in a wide zigzag, until you reach a signposted junction. From here, follow the trail to the car park.
Historical attractions around Kilmartin
Within six miles of Kilmartin, there are over eight hundred ancient monuments of a wide variety of types. They include burial cairns, rock carvings, standing stones, and remains of the fortress and castles.
Kilmartin Glen is one of the richest areas in Europe for prehistoric remains, with fine chambered cairns, standing stones and rock carvings. Among many prehistoric monuments is Temple Wood, with its twin stone circles, Dunchraigaig Cairn, Ri Cruin Cairn, Nether Largie South Cairn and the Nether Largie Standing Stones. The Glen is also home to the ruins of the Iron Age fortress of Dunnadd, unique for its stone carvings (cup and ring) and “king’s footprints”.
The monuments are linked by a trail, which starts in Kilmartin village (PA31 8RQ). The walk is 5.75km (3.5 miles) long and takes around 1.5 – 2 hours to complete. You can park your car either by the church or at the Kilmartin House Museum.
One of the more recent historical attractions in the area (north of Kilmartin) is Carnasserie Castle, a ruined 16th-century tower house, noted for its unusual plan and renaissance detailing. The castle was built in the years between 1565 for the reforming churchman John Carswell, the publisher of the first book printed in Scottish Gaelic.