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Dunoon

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Dunoon is the seaboard gateway to the Scottish Highlands in Argyll and Bute.

Get in

Dunoon is tricky to get to at times, hence why tourism has not blossomed so much here, but it is definitely worth it in the end!

By car

You can drive to Dunoon from Glasgow via either a long detour to the north around Loch Long, or through Gourock with a ferry crossing.

The northern route is relatively straightforward but notably indirect and time-consuming, with long stretches of two-lane single carriageway. Head north past Dumbarton on the A82 to Tarbet, then take the A83 over Rest and Be Thankful to the A815 turnoff where you turn off. After passing Strachur and Lock Eck you'll reach Sandbank and thence Dunoon after about two hours.

A ferry crossing adds expense but drastically reduces the distance you'll travel. Take the M8 and then A8 out of Glasgow until you reach Greenock, where you then take the A770 through Gourock to McInroy's Point. Western Ferries make frequent crossings (every 20 minutes on weekdays)between McInroy's Point and Hunter's Quay, just north of Dunoon at the mouth of Holy Loch.

By train

First Scotrail [1] services travel frequently between Gourock and Glasgow Central, making local stops at stations such as Paisley, Port Glasgow, and Greenock. Train connections are available to much of Scotland and England from Glasgow Central, including Edinburgh, London Euston and the rest of the West Coast Main Line, and much of the Strathclyde innner-regional system. At Gourock it's a short walk over to the Caledonian MacBrayne terminal for the Argyll Ferries passenger service to Dunoon Pier. This ferry runs every half-hour on weekdays and is scheduled to connect with trains.

By bus

Scottish CityLink [2] runs bus services from Glasgow's Buchanan Street Bus Station roughly every hour through the day till evening to both ferry terminals. The bus ride takes just over an hour. Notify the driver of which ferry terminal you wish to be dropped off at. McGills buses also run a direct bus service, the Cowal Connector, from Glasgow to Dunoon, which stays on the Western Ferries ferry. It runs every few hours or so, check the timetable for details.

Get around

West Coast Motors [3] provides service throughout the area highly dependant on where you want to go. It serves the main routes and even goes to Inveraray to meet up with Citylink bus services to Campbeltown and Oban. There is also a service to Portavadie where there is a Cal-Mac ferry service to Tarbert. There are also bus services to the Isle of Bute, which stay on the Colintraive - Rhubodach ferry for 5 minutes of the journey. Expensive and irregular, it can be a pleasure if you have a friendly bus driver. There are plenty of overpriced taxis vying for your trade in Dunoon and numbers are always available.

A best bet for a visit is to take a car, as this is necescary to get to the best walking spots and off the beaten track.

See

  • Benmore Botanic Gardens, Dunoon Argyll, +44 1369 706261 (), [4]. Open daily 1 March to 31 October from 10AM. Adults £4.00, Children £1.00, Families £9.00. Site of one of the finest collections of conifers as well as rhododendrons in the world, Benmore Botanic Gardens, managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, offers a 130 acre estate filled with trees and plants from around the world. For dramatic views, big plants and gardening on a massive scale, Benmore cannot be beaten. Bring a sturdy pair of walking shoes. First ScotRail offers an all-inclusive Benmore Botanic Garden Day Out ticket.

Do

  • Treasure Trails, [5]. A murder mystery walking trail that takes you on a scenic tour of Dunoon while solving clues. A great way to see the town and pass a couple of hours! Buy your booklets at the Tourist Information Centre.
  • Laser HQ. Outdoor laser games at Hunters Quay Holiday Village.

Buy

Mugs! Dunoon is well known for its ceramics and a shop can be found in Argyll Street. The region also specialises in fantastic Venison (deer) foods, such as burgers and joints.

Dunoon has had a demise in its classifacation as a 'seaside resort' but in the summer it is still nice to pick up a stick of Rock and Rhubarb Ice Cream from the Swallow Cafe and wander down the front promenade.

Eat

Dunoon is not a food heaven to be fair. However some very nice places do exist.

  • Chatters Restaurant, 58 John Street, +44 1369 706402. nice cozy family run Bistro type establishment. around £30.00 for two.
  • The View, Queen's Hall Buildings, Dunoon (right outside the CalMac ferry terminal). Good selection at a reasonable price, with a good view over the Clyde.

There are various places through town however they don't really warrent a mention.

If you have a car there are much nicer places to get to. On Loch Eck (A815) There are two popular Inns;

  • The Coylet Inn, Loch Eck, +44 1369 840426 (), [6]. a 17th century coaching inn experience with rooms available for overnight guests.
  • The Whistlefield Inn, Loch Eck, +44 1369 860440 (), [7]. Ideally placed as a base for a host of outdoor activities. Offers rooms as well.

If you really fancy an adventure ask about for 'Inver Cottage' which is about 40 minutes drive, but well worth it for its beautiful location on Loch Fyne, fresh food and modern, yet comfortable feel.

Many visitors get guided into purchasing Loch Fyne Oysters, which have lots of hype about them being better and fresher. Food Critic Ron Mackenna reviewed this practice and found that it left an unpleasant taste in his mouth; overpriced and not worth all the hype.

  • The Cinnamon Rooms, 72 ARGYLL ST, 01369 704436. Great little restaurant on Argyll St serving fantastic food at reasonable prices. Look out for daily specials.In the evening choose from a fantastic range of dishes on the 'East meets West' menu with top notch fare from the far east as well as scottish produce such as local hand dived scallops and venison.Look out for the pre-theatre menu if on a budget. Definitely worth the visit! £.

Drink

Argyll Street in the downtown area hosts many places to drink, some of the best being MacLures (a busy-at-weekends spot for a good dance on the dance floor, commonly known among youth as'McNasties') and DiMarcos (which was a pizzeria, but is now a bit confused and is an American Food bar that features live bands on Thursday).

Out of town, The Whistlefield is the best for a traditional Scottish pub atmosphere, while on a cold wet day, head to the Coylet for their cozy log fire place. There are many other little pubs generally based in villages e.g Strone and Strachur.

Sleep

Hotels are generally fine in the area but many accommodate coach loads so the best bet would be to use a Bed and Breakfast.

Budget

There are currently no hostels in Dunoon, but 7 miles out into the National Park there is a bunkhouse at The Whistlefield, mentioned above, which provides cosy beds and has a traditional bar next door.

Midrange

  • The Anchorage, Shore Road, Sandbank, Argyll, +44 1369 707646, [8]. B&B with great views of Holy Loch and a family run feel. £35 - £40..
  • Argyll Hotel, Argyll St, Dunoon, +44 1369 702059 (), [9]. One of Dunoon’s foremost hotels, centrally located overlooking the pier and town’s bandstand area. £30-£40 per night.
  • West End Hotel, 54 Victoria Parade, West Bay, Dunoon, (), [10]. Situated on the traffic free West Bay of Dunoon and enjoying a magnificent view of the Clyde Estuary towards the Isle of Arran. £28 per person per night.

Splurge

  • Enmore Hotel, Marine Parade, Kirn, Dunoon, (), [11]. Commands an enviable position overlooking the Firth of Clyde with easy access to both ferry ports at Dunoon and Hunters Quay. Double £45 - £95 per person per night.

Get out

There are many ways to escape into the spectacular surrounding land and seascapes that are on the doorstep of Dunoon

Bike

Cycling out of Dunoon is easy and a great pleasure. The roads tend not to be overly hilly despite the surrounding terrain, and many main roads will have smalled paths beside to avoid any traffic. Great places to visit within cycling distance from Dunoon include ; Strone and Ardentinny , Loch Eck , Benmore Botanical Gardens and Glen Massan ( where you can take a well deserved plunge in the amazing waterfalls and rock pools). For further information click here [12]

Walking

There are a plethora of well sign posted and well maintained paths and routes just outside of Dunoon. Pucks Glen is just an example of the many walks available [13]. Recommended start points include Benmore Botanical Gardens ( see above) , Loch Eck, Glenbranter [14] and Kilmun Arboretum [15] .

Bus

Dunoon benefits from a good local network of bus routes operated by West Coast Motors[16]. A full route map is available here [17].

Car

Getting out and about by car is a more personalised and relaxed way of seeing the stunning Argyllshire surroundings. Dunoon is described as the gateway to the Loch Lommond and Trossachs National Park and is indeed a great base from which to explore stunning, yet easily accessible, areas of the West Coast of Scotland.

Suggested car itineries include a pleasant day journey leaving from Dunoon out on the A815 untill Sandbank, turning off towards Tighnabruaich. The journey affords excellent views over the Kyles of Bute. Continue towards Otter Ferry, where you will arrive at Loch Fyne. Continue the drive towards Strachur passing by Castle Lachlan and Inver Cottage [18]. Once you get to Strachur you follow the A815 back towards Dunoon. You will soon pass Loch Eck and the Argyll Forest Park which may provide a good spot for lunch or dinner at one of the Loch's Inns. Continue on this road and it will lead you back into Dunoon. The estimated drive time is 1 hour 46 minutes , but you can eaily take a day over the journey.

For further details see the Tourist Information Office in Dunoon.



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