A multi-use audit of the Cowal Way was carried out in early 2017, and then updated in August 2017 to reflect further access improvements to the path, including for example, the installation of new swing gates to replace all stiles. The report was kindly funded by Scottish Natural Heritage. Please note that the Cowal Way was not originally designed for horse riders, therefore please pay particular attention to any challenging parts mentioned in the report. The author of the report Vyv Wood-Gee, is a Countryside Management Consultant and a keen horse rider.
Working in partnership with No Fuss Events this autumn we bring you the inaugural Cowal Way Chase, a 72km gravel road ride or ultra run at almost 50km. Enough to challenge the toughest and most seasoned of athletes, and a great distance for anyone just getting into the world of long distance running, with a 2 person relay option for anyone looking for a more relaxed day out.
With over 3000ft of ascent, the route will take you over some varied terrain with hard packed paths, loose gravel and slightly technical forest roads, giving you views (No Fuss sunshine guaranteed) over some of the best scenery that one of Scotland’s greatest long distance trails has to offer along the Cowal Way.
To enter go to the No Fuss website by clicking HERE
The Cowal Way is the most recent Long Distance Route (LDR) to receive this accolade, joining others including the iconic West Highland Way and the Great Glen Way. To receive this award LDR’s must fulfil a list of quality criteria, including for example, having a clearly defined path, adequate waymarking & signage in place, and an online presence with detailed information to allow various types of visitors to plan a visit.
Jim McLuckie, the creator of the Cowal Way and a director of Colintraive & Glendaruel Development Trust (who manage the path) said:
“The Cowal Way was established in 2000 to help create employment and to boost the local economy. In the last two years, thanks to financial support from the Coastal Communities Fund, we have been able to invest almost half a million pounds in the project. The majority of funds have been allocated to improving the path infrastructure – including clearing vegetation, creating drainage, building timber walkways and bridges, installing multi-user gates, and also laying stone chips along parts of the path. We have also invested in a new brand identity, a much improved website, social media campaigns, exhibiting at key shows, launching a new, innovative and free mobile app, and updating our Guide Book. We also have people and cycle counters in place, to help us to measure path usage. This season we have seen significant increases of all types of users, including locals, UK and overseas visitors, walkers, runners, cyclists and horse riders.”
“With our improvement programme almost complete, we now believe we have one of the best LDR’s in Scotland, if not Europe! We call Cowal Way “Scotland in 57 miles miles” because visitors can experience the best Scotland has to offer. This includes stunning West Coast scenery, abundant wildlife, engaging heritage, and very friendly locals. From Portavadie on Loch Fyne to Inveruglas at Loch Lomond, the path goes through the key communities of Tighnabruaich, Glendaruel, Strachur, Lochgoilhead and Arrochar – bringing a much needed economic boost to this fragile but beautiful area. The walking terrain constantly changes and includes beaches, shorelines, forest paths, forest roads, hillsides and minor roads.”
Scottish Natural Heritage is the custodians for Scotland’s Great Trails. Ron McCraw, Project Manager for LDR’s said “we are delighted to be able to give this award to the Cowal Way. We have been very impressed with the recent improvements. This is another excellent outdoor tourism asset for Scotland, and we hope this award helps to attract more visitors to Cowal over the coming years.”
The majority of funding for this community project has been kindly provided by the Coastal Communities Fund (CCF), which is administered by the Big Lottery in Scotland with awards decided by an Independent Panel. The aim of this programme is to encourage the economic development of UK coastal communities by giving funding to create sustainable economic growth and jobs. Stephen Leitch, the Glasgow-based funding officer for CCF said “the Cowal Way demonstrates a positive fit with the priorities for CCF in Scotland. We are more than happy with how the project has progressed so far and look forward to seeing how the project delivers planned benefits over time.”
Cowal Way has launched an innovative mobile app for the growing digital audience. The use of smart phones has grown significantly in recent years. The majority of the UK population now own one and use it for a variety of purposes, including accessing social media, texting, for research purposes, and also for purchasing various products and services – and the occasional phone call of course.
This new app is free and available to download and use offline. Key features include a map location system, sites of interest with text and audio features, and also all the information one would expect to be able to access before setting off on a long distance route. All at the touch of a screen.
The app is designed to work on iPhone and Android formats.
To download the free app and to access further information please click http://www.cowalway.co.uk/app
Balliemeanoch Baggage is Cowal Way’s exclusive luggage transfer services company. Managed by Charlie Welsh & Angela Brown, this service started in 2016. Balliemeanoch Baggage is based in Strachur, at the centre of the Cowal Way. Charlie & Angela can move luggage, people and bikes along the Cowal Way, but please book these services directly with them before you visit the Cowal Way. They can also organise airport transfer services to and from Glasgow International Airport.
These services are available from late March to late October.
For more details, click www.balliemeanochbaggage.co.uk
Charlie & Angela also have a popular B&B business in Strachur (Balliemeanoch Breaks B&B), located a few hundred yards from the Cowal Way, and they have plans to expand this accommodation offering in 2018.