Dunoon


Just as generations of Clydesiders have headed “Doon the Watter” the Rothesay, so have they come to Dunoon, sailing across from Gourock and Greenock for their summer holiday on the banks of the Firth of Clyde.

The town has indeed resurged as a tourist destination. Visitors will typically come by ferry from Gourock and Greenock, by car from the north (Arrochar / Inveraray / Oban direction), or landing at the Dunoon Pier in style on the famous Paddle Steamer Waverley. Dunoon itself lies on the Cowal Peninsula, just to the south of the Holy Loch.

As well as the usual Scottish seaside activities of shopping, eating ice cream, strolling along the promenade and playing putting and crazy golf, Dunoon is a pretty town architecturally. The Castle House Museum is an attractive building housing the museum of the same name, with both temporary and permanent exhibitions relating to Dunoon, the local area and its history, including family history research and genealogical information. Other attractive buildings include the Burgh Buildings and the period frontpiece of the Argyll Hotel.

The Queen’s Hall at the pier is a late 1950s building which has hosted a number of famous musical acts, including Pink Floyd, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, and Blur. It still operates today as a thriving music venue.

Castle Toward

Castle Toward lies seven miles out of Dunoon. It is the traditional seat of the Clan Lamont, dating back to the 15th century but whose present buildings themselves date from the 19th century. The country house itself is still impressive, and once upon a time you could get inside, but nowadays Castle Toward is home to an outdoor recreation centre – so for tourists, that is that. It was proposed that the site be sold, but this met with heavy local opposition.

Benmore Botanic Garden

The beautiful Benmore Botanic Garden, also about seven miles from Dunoon, is a world class attraction and definitely one of the jewels in the crown of the Cowal area.

The gardens are large in size and benefit from high rainfall and mild winters. Species include a very impressive diversity of plant and tree life including the magnificent Giant Sequoias (some more than 148 ft high!), Douglas firs, magnolias, rhododendrons and nothofagus, and include species from as far afield as Bhutan.

The botanic gardens themselves contain walled gardens, a fernery, waterfall, streams and pools, hillside walks (with views over the Holy Loch) and plenty of fresh Scottish air. The gardens also have a gift shop, and make for an excellent day out in Argyll and Bute, just a stone’s throw from Dunoon.

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