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Hunter's Quay: Let 20 minutes on Western Ferries make your weekend!

Hunter's Quay: Let 20 minutes on Western Ferries make your weekend!
Argyll is closer than you think! If you live in the central belt of Scotland and fancy a weekend in the wild, then Hunter's Quay on the Cowal peninsula should be your destination. It’s a mere 20-minute ferry ride with Western Ferries from Gourock across the Firth of Clyde. It may be a hop, skip and a jump from Glasgow, but it feels like a world away. This is the gateway to the Highlands, and there are rugged hills, tranquil lochs and stunning views aplenty. The question is, what will you do with your weekend in Argyll?

Hunter's Quay is located just outside Dunoon overlooking the Holy Loch. It’s a brilliant base for all things outdoors. Argyll Forest Park is on the doorstep and the town is surrounded by hills and large tracts of forest. Dunoon has become something of a magnet for mountain bikers recently. Bishop’s Glen, a 10-minute cycle from the centre, has some excellent technical trails, as well as routes that all the family can tackle. Other top places for mountain biking near Dunoon include Glenbranter, Ardgartan and Glenmassan. Or if you prefer fancy a four-wheeled biking adventure, check out Quadmania, a five-star quad-biking centre near Dunoon.

There is some wonderful walking in the area too. Like much of Argyll, Cowal is characterised by a diverse coastline and stunning stretches of water. When you’re out and about, you’re never far from a cracking coastal view. Puck’s Glen, just up the road from Hunter's Quay, is a magical woodland world with an enchanting gorge. There are two trails here: one winds through the gorge with its tumbling waterfalls, the other takes a longer route to great viewpoints and some of the finest rhododendron displays in the country. Benmore Botanic Garden is another fabulous place for a woodland wander.

Holy Loch in Dunoon is great for bird watching. The River Echaig washes tons of silt from the hills which collects as deep mudflats at the head of the loch. This rich habitat is home to lots of shellfish, marine worms, snails and fish, which in turn attracts a wide variety of birds - divers, dabblers, stalkers and waders. There's a bird hide at Broxwood, Sandbank just along from Hunter's Quay that looks right over the mud flats. Park at Broxwood Picnic Site Car Park, and follow the path through the gateway. It's just a short walk through a lovely little woodland. Look out for curlew, oystercatcher, wigeon and red-breasted Merganser, among others. It’s best to visit two hours before or after high tide. If you spot an unusual sighting, contact the Argyll Bird Club.

Hunter's Quay is home to Hunter's Quay Holiday Village run by Argyll Holidays. This award-winning holiday park offers family fun. There’s a magnificent all-weather leisure complex with two heated pools and a children’s fun centre. There’s also a range of indoor and outdoor ‘Go Active’ activities and a popular Bar & Grill.

Dunoon itself is a buzzing town, with a good selection of shops, holiday accommodation and places to eat. There’s a thriving cultural scene. In August, Dunoon hosts the Cowal Highland Gathering, the world's most spectacular Highland Gathering. The Burgh Hall is a creative arts hub, hosting a varied selection of exhibitions, workshops and concerts, as well as running the Dunoon Film Festival. There’s also plenty of local history and heritage to explore. Castle House Museum, set in gardens opposite the newly refurbished Dunoon Pier, tells the story of Dunoon from the Neolithic period to the present day.

The great thing about the Western Ferries' service is there’s no booking and no need to check in. So if the weekend weather is looking good and the wild is calling, you can just turn up and go! There are sailings from each terminal every 20 minutes throughout most of the day and every 15 minutes at peak times. Tickets are cheaper when bought before you board the ferry.

Still looking for inspiration? Meet Fraser Smith our ‘Cowal local’. Fraser lives in Dunoon and spends most of his free time enjoying the great outdoors exploring the hills, lochs and shoreline of Cowal.

Find out more about things to see and do in Dunoon & Cowal.

Header image: Western Ferries
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