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  • Writer's pictureAbigail Daly

Car-free in Cowal

A guest recently said they were planning to stay at Ruskin Lodges, but were going to leave their car at home. We thought this was a great chance to research the best way to stay car-free while staying in Cowal. Here's what we found!

Kilmun Arboretum is covered in banks of bluebells in May each year.
Kilmun Arboretum can be reached on foot via Puck's Glen

Travelling to the lodges

Dunoon can be reached by ferry from Gourock, which has a railway station directly beside the pier, or by coach via Glasgow. From Dunoon, busses, taxi and the Pingo Bus on-demand service all serve Ruskin Lodges.


Shopping deliveries are now more available than they ever were previously – a silver lining for the area since Covid. Morrisons and the Coop both offer deliveries (book your slot in advance) but so too do some of the smaller producers. Array Fish, for example (who supply all kinds of produce, not just locally-caught fish), and Loch Fyne Oysters. They work to a weekly schedule so place your order at least a week in advance. Takeaways from Dunoon now also cover Rashfield. You can walk to the Cot House Service Station (about 20 minutes) which has lots of good local produce and essential supplies – however, you must take care to walk on the grass beside the main the road as cars tend to drive fast along that stretch.

Getting around

As well as the regular bus service connecting Benmore Gardens, Cot House, Dunoon and Toward, there is also the Pingo Bus which covers Strachur in the north down to Toward in the south and out to Ardentinny in the east. It is an ‘on demand’ service with no fixed stops which will pick you up and drop you off where you want. It is charged on a mileage basis, calculated when you book, per person, so there may some instances where a taxi might be better.

You might want to think about hiring bikes – cycling to Benmore along the track behind the lodge and then along the western bank of Loch Eck is lovely. You can also potter around the Holy Loch to Blairmore (or further!) and reward yourself en route at the Blairmore Café. You can sit outside at the Strone Inn which has a sweet little beach and a pier which is lovely for watching the sunset.

If you’re interested in other forms of transport, a rib ride with Wreckspeditions, based at the Holy Loch Marina, is a great way of seeing the area from the sea and learning about the maritime history and wrecks. Jason and Claire, who run the business, are lovely and a real asset to the area. They can offer a water taxi service, which might be a fun way to visit other places in the area!

Local activities and attractions

  • Puck’s Glen (directly behind the lodges)

  • Benmore Gardens (a short 20-minute walk away)

  • Chainsaw Craft (10-minute walk towards Cot House)

  • Historic Kilmun (you can walk from the top of Puck’s Glen to the Arboretum)

  • Glenmassan walks (via Uig Hall)

Do you have any suggestions?

If you have some ideas to add to this guide, get in touch, we'd love to hear your ideas.

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