Benmore Botanical Gardens – Argyll and Bute Autumn Walks 2017
A forest bursting with colour
Benmore botanical gardens boasts some of Scotland’s most impressive specimens of really big conifers. The trails take you amongst giant Californian redwoods, Douglas fir and Western hemlock, and even through a big tree…
This is good habitat for native red squirrels, which eat the seeds from the forest’s abundant cones.
In spring and early summer Benmore bursts into colour when its remarkable collection of rhododendrons comes into bloom.
Our guide to Argyll Forest Park will help you explore Benmore and other woodlands in this wonderful part of Scotland.
You’ll notice disinfectant mats at the entrance/exit to some of our trails. This helps minimise the spread of tree disease and keeps our forests healthy for the future. Please use them to clean any boots, paws or wheels.
Have a cuppa
Parking for this forest is at Benmore Botanic Garden. The garden is also the nearest place for a cup of tea, in the Benmore Garden Café (please note the cafe has restricted opening times in winter).
You can find other places to eat and public toilets in Dunoon (6 miles / 9.6 km away).
How to get here
From Glasgow you can either:
- Travel to Gourock and take the car ferry to Dunoon. Turn right (north) out of the terminal onto the A815 and after 6 miles / 9.6 km turn left towards Glenbranter. Benmore car park is on your left.
- Or take the A82 north to Loch Lomond. Turn onto the A83 at Tarbet and continue until the junction with the A815. Turn left and pass the villages of Strachur and Glenbranter. Continue for 9 miles / 14.5 km: Benmore car park is on your right.
The car park is at grid reference NS 143 854.
PA23 8QU is the nearest postcode.
You’ll find details of public transport at Traveline Scotland.
Benmore is connected to the magical woodland of Puck’s Glen. You can start some of the trails from either Benmore or Puck’s Glen car parks. A forest road also connects Bemore with Kilmun Arboretum to the south, but this route is not waymarked and you will need an OS map to follow it.
A cycle route along the west side of Loch Eck connects to Glenbranter forest to the north.
All these places are part of the Argyll Forest Park, which has eight more fabulous forests to discover.
Benmore Botanic Garden is right next to the forest and well worth a visit.
Big Tree Trail
Walk beneath (and indeed over) some towering Douglas firs, cypresses and silver firs planted in the nineteenth century. Some great views from the top.
Uneven gravel and earth paths with exposed tree roots and muddy sections. Some long steep slopes and low trees to duck under.
1 ¼ miles /
A great way to see Benmore’s colossal conifers. Rest and enjoy the experience on benches along the way: sit quietly and you may see roe deer and red squirrel too.
Black Gates Trail
A full tour of Benmore Forest that combines the giant conifers of Benmore with the spectacular gorge of Puck’s Glen and provides great views across the valley.
Narrow and rough rocky sections in Puck’s Glen that may be wet. Several steep slopes with long flights of uneven steps. Includes a number of bridges.
3 miles /
From Benmore’s Black Gates, climb up through majestic big trees and catch amazing views over Glen Massan and the River Eachaig before dropping into the deliciously atmospheric Puck’s Glen, with its twisting path, waterfalls and bridges. A gentle road brings you back to the car park at Benmore.
Loch Eck Loop
Please note, the east side of the Loch Eck Loop is Closed due to Landslides. The trail between Glenbranter and Benmore Garden is still open. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Cycling – 21.8 miles / 35.0 km
A treat for cyclists with a day to spare.
A rewarding day out for fit and determined cyclists. The circular loop climbs high above beautiful Loch Eck on the east and hugs the shoreline on the west. Most people start and finish at Glenbranter and cycle clockwise to get the main climb out of the way early in the day. Either way you’ll have magnificent views over the Clyde and out to west coast and islands.
Forest road and paths, with a short section on public road. Some very steep slopes with occasional loose material on the paths.