The area around the southern part of the Cowal Peninsula and the Kyles of Bute is both rugged and beautiful with many varied landscapes and scenic views. To fully appreciate this hidden gem in Scotland’s landscape take to the road for a day tour by car.
We suggest taking a circuitous route heading first to Ardlamont, round to Millhouse and Portavadie, up to Kilfinan and on to Otter ferry, across to Clachan of Glendaruel then down Loch Riddon and the Kyles of Bute back to Tighnabruaich.
Tighnabruaich to Ardlamont
Road signs at Tighnabruaich
Take the B8000 south and follow it for a few miles down the side of the Kyles of Bute. It’s a wonderfully scenic drive with views down the Kyles to the Firth of Clyde and across to the Isle of Bute. In the warmer months you can see seals, porpoises, dolphins and a wide variety of seabirds including diving gannets that have flown up from Ailsa Craig.
Just before you reach Ardlamont you can stop and take the footpath to Ardlamont Point where there is a viewpoint that affords fantastic views of the Firth of Clyde, Arran and the Kintyre peninsula. Archaeologists and history fans will also be interested in the fort and cup and ring marks nearby
Ardlamont to Millhouse
Continue on to Ardlamont, famous for Ardlamont House which was once the seat of the Clan Lamont. Just past Ardlamont is Kilbride Bay (also known as Ostell Bay) with its a beautiful crescent shaped sandy beach. To visit the Bay, park in the nearby lay-by, then it’s a 10-15 minute walk.
Drive north to the village of Millhouse. Millhouse is known for its Powder Mill which made gunpowder. Today, the Mill is in ruins as it stopped making gunpowder in 1921 after making it for over 80 years.
Millhouse to Portavadie
Take the road east to Portavadie. Portavadie was originally built as an oil rig construction facility but was never used. Today there is a marina on the site which sits beside the demolished village of Polphail. To the south of Portavadie there is a ruined chapel and some standing stones.
Millhouse to Kilfinan
If you choose not to visit Portavadie, continue on the B8000 north until you reach the village of Kilfinan where you can visit the beach at Kilfinan Bay or enjoy a walk through Kilfinan Forest.
Kilfinan to Otter Ferry
From Kilfinan it’s a short drive to Otter Ferry on the shores of Loch Fyne. The ferry that used to connect both shores of Loch Fyne no longer operates and apart from the Oyster Catcher Bar, the area’s main feature is a shingle spit that stretches for a mile onto the loch and makes for an interesting walk.
Otter Ferry to Glendaruel
View from the Tighnabruaich Viewpoint down the East Kyle to Bute
From Otter Ferry head back along the B8000 but take first left onto the C11. The road climbs steeply through forest and moorland eventually arriving near the summit of Cruach nan Tarbh where there is a viewpoint overlooking Loch Fyne and the Kintyre peninsula. After descending the hill you will reach Clachan of Glendaruel.
Glendaruel to Tighnabruaich
Turn right at the end of the C11 onto the A886. After a few hundred yards turn right onto the A8003 signposted to Tighnabruaich. As you follow the road that climbs up a craggy hillside, Loch Riddon comes into view and after a few miles stop at the Tighnabruaich Viewpoint for one of the best views of the day down Loch Riddon and the Kyles of Bute, the Isle of Bute itself and beyond to the Firth of Clyde. From there it’s just a short 10 minute drive back to Tighnabruaich and the Royal an Lochan.