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Things to do in Dunoon, Argyll and Bute

West Bay Dunoon © John Mcleish www.images-scotland.com

The resort town of Dunoon is situated on the Cowal Peninsula in scenic Argyll and Bute. It is five miles south of Holy Loch and connected by ferry to Gourock across the Firth of Clyde.

Holy Loch was the home of the American Navy Submarine Squadron until 1992 when the end of the Cold War meant it was no longer required. In 1961, there were huge protests when a US submarine tender brought Polaris nuclear missiles to the facilities.

Dunoon pier was built in 1835, rebuilt in 1895 and is the place to catch the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Gourock. In its busier days the pier had fleets of paddle steamers which carried tourists "doon the watter" from Glasgow to visit the pleasant resort.

Castle Hill still has the remains of the 12th century Dunoon Castle. It belongs to the Earls of Argyll, the Campbell clan, who are the castle's hereditary keepers. Their rent, payable to the English monarch is still a single red rose!

Mary Queen of Scots stayed at the castle several times around 1563. The castle was largely destroyed during the 1685 rebellion.

Castle Toward was the home of the Lamont clan in the 15th century and the ruined foundations remain in the grounds of the grand stately home which replaced it. It was rebuilt by the Lord Provost of Glasgow in 1820 as an impressive castellated mansion.

During the war Castle Toward was purchased by the Corporation of Glasgow and was used as the headquarters for combined operations. It is now used as an outdoor training and activity centre offering high ropes, hiking and kayaking. The grounds were previously used for filming challenging games in the TV series Raven.

Present Day Dunoon

The attractive waterfront has a Victorian pier close to Hunters Quay and the Queens Hall, which is the main function hall for the area. In the past, it has hosted concerts by such bands as Pink Floyd, David Grey and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

Dunoon Stadium hosts local football matches and is where the Cowal Highland Gathering takes place every August. It is the largest Highland Games event in the world.

The town has a good number of craft shops, art galleries, cafés, a museum and a leisure centre along with a General Hospital and a Grammar School. Famous scholars since its foundation in 1641 include the Rev. Donald Caskie, known as the Scarlet Pimpernel, George Robertson, head of NATO and MP John Smith.

Just south of the pier is a new breakwater, which not only protects the pier but also allows the berthing of ro-ro ferries. So far, there have been no successful tenders for the rights to operate.

Things to do in Dunoon

Visitors can take a nostalgic trip on a paddle steamer, the PS Waverley that runs between Glasgow and Dunoon. The pier and breakwater both provide good fishing spots.

The Benmore Botanical Gardens are just 7 miles from Dunoon. The 150-acre arboretum has some of the tallest trees in Britain, including an impressive avenue of Giant Redwoods that are over 120 feet high.

Alexandria, at the southern tip of Loch Lomond, is 34 miles away via the ferry to Gourock and provides a pleasant day out with plenty of shops and scenic hiking.

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Images of Dunoon

View of Dunoon © John Mcleish www.images-scotland

Interactive Map of Dunoon

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