They say you only get out of life what you put into it but there are those rare occasions when the rewards can far outweigh the efforts. The Dun na Cuaiche walk is a prime example of this and should be high on every photographers list of locations to visit here in Argyll.
At the end of the route you will find the watch tower, one of the areas most prominent and intriguing landmarks. It is a listed building, constructed in the 18th century, and designed in the Gothic revival style by architects Roger Morris and William Adam.
Considering it is little more than a 45 minute walk from Inveraray Castle, the view from the watch tower is absolutely breathtaking. At 248 metres above sea level you can enjoy incredible views all round – to the North Ben Cruachan, the highest point in Argyll, Dun Corr-bhile to the North East and Loch Shira, the town of Inveraray and Loch Fyne to the South and South West.
From the car park at Inveraray Castle follow the blue arrows along the drive, over the bridge, through the woods and then cross the field. Heading upwards along the track through the trees you will find the remains of a lime kiln and derelict buildings with some very interesting and photogenic farming implements.
This walk is not just for those in search of the big landscape shots. I frequently encounter buzzards and deer on my walks particularly crossing the field from Duchess Louise Woods, beautiful lichens hanging from the trees and mosses growing on the rocks. Each season brings with it different colours and light so every visit differs in some way to the previous.
The blue markers tend to be quite irregular and there are one or two spots that could possibly be confusing. I strongly advise that you familiarise yourself with the route on a map prior to setting out.
There are a few steep sections along the route but they tend to be long and gradual and there are a number of places where you can stop to take in the view and catch your breath. Half way up the steepest part of the walk you can pause and enjoy the stunning scenery and look down on the 18th century Dovecot and Carloonan Farm.
As you round the final few bends in the path you will be greeted by the most magnificent views of Loch Fyne and the hills beyond.
I always seem to find myself up here on bright sunny days during mid afternoon – arguably the least favourable time of day for landscape photography. A well timed visit at sunrise or sunset would present the landscape photographer with far better opportunities. If you are in the area for a few days then check the weather forecast and try to avoid overcast days. Clear skies with some cloud are so often the best.
I have walked here at all times of the year. The paths are generally good and wide, muddy in places but do have sections where care is required especially after rain or in icy conditions. After prolonged periods of sub zero temperatures the paths can be hazardous and I would recommend the route only to the more experienced, well equipped walker.
At the time of writing this post there is significant forestry work on the South East slopes of Dun na Cuaiche. The walk used to be a circular route but, I assume, because of the forestry operations you have to return by the same route as you ascended. I am unsure what the future plans are for the old descent but will post an update in the event of any changes.
During the high season (April to October) you can leave your car at the Castle Car Park but during the winter months you should park in the town’s main car park and head to the Castle on foot to start the walk.
I can personally recommend the Castle Tea Rooms (also open April to October) which offer a range of locally sourced dishes, home baking and light meals ready for your walk or indeed as a reward afterwards! The Castle Gardens and Interior are well worth a few hours of your time too. There is a strict “no photography” rule in place inside the Castle.
Please remember this is a working estate – stay on the designated paths, close any gates you open and follow instructions especially in the vicinity of the forestry operations. As with all walks I recommend you tell someone where you are going, when you will be back, wear suitable outdoor clothing and take some light refreshments especially on the warmer days. The weather can change quite rapidly and it may be several degrees cooler at the top so be prepared. Have fun, be safe and don’t forget to send in your best shots. I would be delighted to display them on the gallery page. Email your images to firstname.lastname@example.org
Inveraray Castle Postcode for SatNav PA32 8XE.