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Dig deeper: discover the past on Argyll's Secret Coast

Dig deeper: discover the past on Argyll's Secret Coast
As 2017 is the Visit Scotland Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017, we thought we’d share our favourite historic places on Argyll’s Secret Coast.

Kilmodan Sculptured Stones
This group of historic late-medieval west Highland carved grave slabs are exhibited in a burial aisle within Kilmodan churchyard near Glendaruel. The stones are carved in the same style common to mid-Argyll, Lorn and Cowal, with decorations including intertwined plant stems, swords and tools, including what appears to be a blacksmith’s tongs, a range of animals and human figures.

Ascog Castle
The ruined Ascog Castle sits on the shores of Ascog Loch near Portavadie. It dates back to the 15th century and was the ancestral home of the McInnes Lamonts. The castle was destroyed by the Campbells of Ormsary during the 1646 massacre, where over 100 clansmen were taken to Dunoon and either hanged or buried alive. There’s not much left of the castle today, but it’s a beautiful spot by the loch.

Caladh Estate & Lily Pond
Glen Caladh Estate to the north-east of Tighnabruaich, has a network of paths weaving through woodland. Glen Caladh House, the old estate house, was requisitioned in World War II for the training of landing craft navigators. Sadly the house was destroyed in 1960, but a few traces remain for those prepared to look. Follow the path up the hill to find the secret lily pond.

Glenan Deserted Village
The settlement here is thought to date back to 1309. The last inhabitant is thought to have left Glenan at the beginning of the twentieth century, though some local legends tell that he hung himself in the oak woods below. The remains of several houses are still clearly visible and this is a haunting place to sit and imagine what life must have been like in harder times. To get there, follow the path through the Glenan oak woods.

Kilfinan Church
Kilfinan Parish Church has been a place of worship since 1235 and the foundations are from this date. The church was rebuilt in 1759, incorporating the Lamont Vault of 1633 which houses the burial stones of the ancient Chiefs of the Clan Lamont from 1295. There’s also a 9th-century stone inspired by the Iona Cross and other early Christian stones.

Millhouse Gunpowder Works
Take a walk around the village of Millhouse, once home to a thriving gunpowder mill, from 1839 and until 1921. At its peak, the Mill comprised around 40 buildings in total. The Mill Road was lined with cottages, many of which are renovated today, and a clock was mounted in the gable end of the manager's cottage next to to the timekeeping bell. The bell has been restored and re-erected at the cemetery as a memorial to the workers killed in explosions at the works.

The Victorians
There are some stunning Victorian villas in Tighnabruaich, built by wealthy merchants from Glasgow. Wellpark is a lovely example. Built in 1861, this elegant property was converted into a hotel in 2010. You’ll find superb original features, including stained glass windows, fireplaces, arts and crafts woodwork, a Victorian butler’s pantry and an amazing Edwardian bathroom. Just along the road is Tighnabruaich Pier, one of the few surviving working wooden piers in the Firth of Clyde still in use for its original purpose.

Kilfinan Community Forest Heritage Trail
Follow a short circular trail in Kilfinan Community Forest to find the ‘Victorian Falls’ These falls looks natural, but was in fact man-made in the 19th century. The burn was diverted from its natural route to create small reservoir, and this diversion also created the waterfall. Just beyond this are the remains of Tighnabruaich’s first reservoir. If you’d like to extend your walk, follow the historic Kilfinan Way to Tighnabruaich’s second reservoir, which was used up the the 1970s.

Of course there is lots more history to discover on Argyll’s Secret Coast, where the past is all around you. Dig deeper by grabbing a map and locating the chambered cairns, standing stones and cup-and-ring marked rocks yourself.

Walk to GlenanWellpark HotelAscog Castle
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