Portavadie to Tighnabruaich
Distance 6 miles/ 10km
Mainly forest track, paths or quiet road.
Easy undulating track, with a gentle climb to 85m (280 ft) over the first 2km
This is a fairly undemanding section, offering excellent views of both Loch Fyne and the Kyles of Bute. Points of particular interest along this section include the dramatic ruins of Asgog Castle, the remains of a gunpowder mill, and a World War II tank landing slip.
The Cowal Way begins in Portavadie, which is linked to Tarbert in Kintyre by a regular ferry service. From the Portavadie ferry terminal, head east along the main concrete road which runs uphill past the marina. After about 400m, turn left onto the forest road signposted for Loch Asgog and the Cowal Way. Follow this track for around 700m to where a power line crosses the road and signs indicate a narrow grassy path to your right. This path passes through an area of bracken, skirts the edge of a clearing with houses and ruins, before heading uphill to the right. The route then descends for 250m through cleared forest to join a forest track beside a small loch. Turn left and follow the track for several hundred meters, ignoring forest track branching off to your right. The way then turns right by a standing stone onto a signposted trodden path, which passes the ruins of Asgog Castle before bearing right towards the shores of the loch. Follow the path along the edge of the loch, crossing a stile and then continuing along the shoreline. At the head of the loch, near the cottages, the path disappears in the grassy fields. Bear diagonally uphill aiming for the gatepost on the skyline to the right of the cottages. Follow the farm track downhill to meet with the B8000 before turning right along the road towards the Millhouse crossroads.
At these crossroads, turn left onto the road for Kames and Tighnabruaich. To your right are ruins of a gunpowder mill which operated here until 1921. Follow the road for 500m until you come to the Cladh a Mhuillinn cottages on your right, where you will see a memorial to workers killed in a gunpowder explosion, as well as small canon used to test the powder. To continue on the Cowal Way, turn off the road and pass through the gate which is signed as a public footpath. This short distance is a farmer’s field and it sometimes has livestock in it.
Bear straight ahead, following the fence-line uphill and through another gate into the next field. Continue alongside the fence to reach a metal gate, and then head through the gate and past the gorse towards the golf fairway ahead. Walk straight across the fairway, heading towards the fire break, until you reach a rough track which passes by the edge of the forest. Cross the fairway with care, following the ditch to your left until you reach a rough track which passes by the edge of a forest. The route follows this track downhill, bearing right where it meets with the golf course road. Follow this rough road for around 250m, before turning left onto a narrow path that leads into the woods. This is the historic ‘green road’ which was used to transport gunpowder by horse and cart. It was traditionally turfed to prevent the horses shoes striking dangerous sparks on the stones. The path descends round the back of Kames, coming out in a car-park at the southern end of the village. From here you can enjoy excellent views of the Kyles of Bute, as well noticing the nearby WWII tank landing slip.
Turn left onto the road, which follows the shore for one mile before zigzagging uphill by the Kames Hotel. Turn right, passing the Kyles Church and the public toilets, and then right again at the road junction by Kames post office. Follow the B8000 for approximately one mile to reach the Tighnabruaich post office.