Discover 200 miles of pilgrim trails in the west of Scotland
by Dan Romani, Faith in Cowal
Cowal is a little known peninsula of Argyll not 90mins west of Glasgow. It can be reached by road, or by ferry across the Firth of Clyde. Aside from the main town of Dunoon it is sparsely populated and therefore unspoiled.
With a raft of beautiful village churches, ruined chapels on hidden hillsides, and a handful of holy wells with which to quench your thirst, and Cowal is an ideal setting for an off road pilgrimage.
The Faith in Cowal pilgrim walks comprise a network of 200 miles of trails, visiting 15 sites of special significance to the growth of Christianity in Cowal. The trails are a mixture of heritage paths, forestry roads and rough hikes; immersing you in the natural and cultural heritage of Cowal. Most of the individual, end to end routes can be traversed in a day. Alternatively, spend a long weekend visiting three or four spiritual sites on one of our predefined loops.
Situated between Glasgow and Kintyre, Cowal’s pilgrim routes offer the perfect opportunity to link up other pilgrim ways, such as those to Iona or Lindisfarne. We encourage you to design your own ‘Cowal Pilgrimage’ using the detailed walking guides on the website. There are no waymarkers on the ground; instead we’ve utilised digital technology such as GPS Tracks and what3words addresses.
The result is that you’ll feel as if you’re forging your own path, much in the way the original pilgrims would have, while still having all the information you require in the palm of your hand.
Here's a taster to get you started planning your pilgrimage, with four routes below.
Distance: 200 miles, but broken down into shorter routes
Time required: Varies depending on the section or route
Difficulty: Varies depending on the section or route
What to bring: Footwear with good grips, ideally boots with ankle support, are essential. Waterproof and warm clothing during the colder months are important too