Museums and historic houses
Fine architecture has been evident in Cowal since the 17th century with houses such as Strachur and Ardkinglas still used as family homes. Others such as Old Kilmun House and Ormidale House, are finding a new lease of life let to house parties and others such as Dunans castle are under restoration.
At the turn of the 19th century Cowal became a popular destination for rich industrialists and merchants to build second homes, attracted by the escape to a still unspoiled environment. Many are still private homes such Ardkinglas House and others have found a second life as hotels.
This long-forgotten resting place is the hidden jewel in Scotland's historic crown. Since 1442, it has paid spiritual tribute to the late Chiefs of the Clan Campbell and their families. Gazing across the waters of the Holy Loch, surrounded by hill and woodland, it stands on ancient holy land. St Fintan Munnu founded a monastery here in the 6th century, and antiquated graves hide in grassy Kilmun kirkyard, waiting to be uncovered. The present Mausoleum, with its magnificent domed roof of cast iron, was built in 1790 by John, the 5th Duke - a warrior and statesman - who fought at Falkirk and Culloden. But be assured: he is just one in a long line of fascinating characters whose bones lie at rest in and around Argyll Mausoleum, awaiting your visit! Find us at St Munn's Church, Kilmun, on the A880.
Castle House Museum, Dunoon’s landmark building
Castle House in Dunoon is now the Museum for Cowal in a picturesque setting above Dunoon pier, providing fabulous views over the water . The museum is within Castle House, built in 1824 on the site of the original medieval Dunoon castle which now provides gardens which are very popular for family picnics. The displays include evidence of life in Cowal from its beginning in the stone age to modern times.
Strachur Smiddy is a unique record of the technology of the blacksmith and his craft. It has a long history, at least since the 1790s, the contents remained virtually untouched from the day it closed in the 1950’s until its restoration as a museum. Occasional open days include demonstrations of the smith's craft. www.strachursmiddy.org.uk; a modest admission fee applies.
The Old Manse Museum
The Old Manse at Inverchaolain, near Colintraive is a small Museum dedicated to the Lamont clan. “Here We Are” at Cairndow is an information centre on the local area, both past and present, for both visitors and local people.
Situated on the shores of Loch Fyne, against a spectacular background of rugged mountains and ancient forest, Ardkinglas House is an architectural gem, designed by Robert Lorimer. Still occupied as a family home, it has remained largely unchanged for 100 years. The 12,000 acres of Ardkinglas Estate provides many attractions to visitors, including a woodland garden which hosts the tallest tree in Britain. The House can be viewed by arrangement to tours of groups of 8 or more people and has open days on the last Friday of every month.