THIS column is dedicated to walking and ramblers' groups from across Scotland, where they can suggest the best routes to enjoy from their areas and further afield.

Dun Na Cuaiche and River Aray, Inveraray, Argyll

By Ken MacTaggart, Friends of the Argyll Papers

Start: The war memorial at front green, Inveraray

Distance: 3 miles/5 kilometres

Time: Allow a little over 2 hours

Terrain: Good paths all the way, some tarred, others gravel.

Level: Stiff final ascent up the hill to 250m (800 feet).

Access: Bus service from Glasgow stops at the war memorial. By car take the A82 to Tarbet, Loch Lomond, then the A83 to Inveraray.

What makes it special: Historic buildings, River Aray, lush woodland, green glens and that fabulous view from the hilltop.

THIS variant on a popular hill track walk has tranquil riverside paths, forest glades, a dramatic peak and surprise views at every turn. It reaches the summit of Dun na Cuaiche, the prehistoric Fort of the Cuckoo, whose descendants still call in the woods in spring.

The Herald: The watchtower hill of Dun na Cuaiche from the waterfront, Inveraray. Picture: Ken MacTaggartThe watchtower hill of Dun na Cuaiche from the waterfront, Inveraray. Picture: Ken MacTaggart

The panorama of the Royal Burgh of Inveraray, its historic architecture and turreted castle, with the silver ribbon of Loch Fyne snaking towards the distant hills of Cowal, is surely one of Scotland's best.

Route: From the war memorial on Inveraray's front green with the classic view of your objective ahead, go left through the gate by the Porter's Lodge into the castle grounds. The tourist hordes turn right for the 18th century chateau, but you keep left.

Winterton Park, scene of many a famous shinty clash and the Inveraray Highlands Games is soon on your right, then comes a grey quadrangle. This is the Cherry Park, former stables and coach house built 1775. It houses the estate offices and the charters, maps and historic documents of The Argyll Papers.

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A little further on, look right for a black gate in the wall. Walk through trees to the River Aray, where this corner is known as the Lady's Linn, one of the easier fly-fishing pools. Turn left and follow the river upstream through serene woods until the Malt Land appears ahead. This historic complex of farm buildings and cottages was built by the 5th Duke of Argyll.

The Herald: Inveraray, the castle and Loch Fyne from the top of Dun na Cuaiche. Picture: Ken MacTaggartInveraray, the castle and Loch Fyne from the top of Dun na Cuaiche. Picture: Ken MacTaggart

Turn right to cross the bridge, continue straight on, and when round a corner take the left fork uphill through a gate. A track soon curves left across a sloping meadow, up to a gate and into the woods.

This is the old pinetum, a collection of foreign pines and giant sequoia redwoods. Keep right past a ruined lime kiln, where local limestone was burned for building mortar and agriculture.

Continue uphill, avoiding all turn-offs. This is the steepest part of the walk, and views soon open out where your path turns sharply right.

Now an easier gradient continues through shady woods to the grassy saddle between Dun na Cuaiche and its taller neighbour, Dun Corr-bhile. A final zigzag takes you quickly to the top.

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The 18th-century watchtower is a decorative folly, but the hump on the right is ancient – the collapsed walls of a Pictish fort which once occupied the whole summit. Benches at the far side offer spectacular views of glens and lochs.

Retrace your route to the bottom of the hill, cross the meadow, and look for a small gate in the stone wall ahead. This offers a quick return through woodland which is a haze of bluebells in spring. The foundations of a wartime camp for soldiers training for D-Day lie around.

You soon arrive at the ornate Frew's Bridge and continue along a beech hedgerow to the castle, then back to town.

The Herald: The scenic walking route of Dun Na Cuaiche and River Aray, Inveraray. Picture: Ken MacTaggartThe scenic walking route of Dun Na Cuaiche and River Aray, Inveraray. Picture: Ken MacTaggart

Don't miss: Different views of the historic white doocot in Glen Aray especially from Frew's Bridge, refreshments in the Inveraray Castle Tearoom (no need to buy a tour ticket).

Useful information: Friends of the Argyll Papers supports the archives of the Argyll Estates and Clan Campbell. Its rich material can be accessed for historical and family history research by appointment. Visit

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