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Mountain Biking in Dunoon and Argyll - 2020 Guide

Argyll is fast establishing itself as a must-visit for mountain bikers. The combination of Scotland’s mountainous terrain, Argyll’s ease of access and the sheer and spacious beauty, makes it an ideal biking destination.

And the capital of this mountain biking boom in Argyll? It’s got to be Dunoon!

8 Nov 2020

    This guide covers what’s happening in Dunoon to make it such a hotspot for mountain bikers, as well as some of the most exciting and most famous trails around Argyll.

    All about Dunoon

    Why is Dunoon such an epicentre for mountain biking? 

    Dunoon, located on the Firth of Clyde, is gaining quite the reputation as ‘the place to go’ in Argyll for outdoor pursuits, and mountain biking is right up there on the list.

    There’s a load of reasons why:

    • It has a great location - less than 2 hours from Glasgow
    • Plus it’s accessible by public transport (using trains and ferries) as well as by car
    • It’s a beautiful location, which is always a bonus for outdoor enthusiasts.
    • But that’s not to say the landscape isn’t mountainous and dramatic, perfect for mountain biking.
    • Finally, it’s a tourist destination in its own right, so visitors can enjoy a day’s mountain biking, before staying for the night.
    Accommodation at Hunters Quay overlooking Dunoon
    Dunoon from Hunters Quay

    Hunters Quay Holiday Village is located right by Dunoon, making it an ideal place for visitors wanting self-catered accommodation and easy access to town.

    Don’t just take our word for why mountain bikers love this region though, see for yourself...

    This video was commissioned in 2016 by the town of Dunoon as they realised their great mountain biking potential. Safe to say, it worked. Inspired by the video’s beautiful landscapes and exciting journeys, visitor numbers surged and Dunoon was firmly placed on the mountain biking map.

    What’s happening in these days in Dunoon for mountain biking?

    Since then, mountain biking has only been going from strength to strength.

    The Enduro Series

    One of the most prestigious mountain biking events in the country - The Scottish Enduro Series - had listed Dunoon as one of four locations for its 2020 races, before it was cancelled due to Covid-19.

    The Dunoon Project

    THe Dunoon Project Gondola

    The Dunoon Project is a fantastic infrastructure initiative to build a gondola to the summit of Kilbride Hill, overlooking the town. With an end goal of making Dunoon an even better destination for those wanting to explore the Argyll countryside, especially for mountain bikers! 

    The Dunoon Project was first created in 2016 and is hopeful to break ground in 2022 (although the events of this year may have postponed progress a little). Either way, it is an exciting initiative for many in the town, and one mountain bikers all over the UK are crossing their fingers for!

    Learn more about the Dunoon Project

    Best Mountain Biking in Argyll

    What sort of mountain biking is there at Argyll?

    Thanks to the varied landscape in Argyll, there are plenty of cycling routes for all abilities.

    If you’re after more general cycling or easier mountain biking, here is a list of our favourite local routes

    But if you’ve been mountain biking a while and are comfortable on red and black trails, Dunoon is a must-visit. Below we’ve listed some of the most popular. Please remember though that these are difficult trails, not for beginners.

    Finding the best routes

    Of course, one of the best ways to find great mountain biking routes in Argyll is by using Strava.

    A map of cycling routes near Dunoon on Strava

    Our favourite we found on there is ‘The Badd’, named after the mountain you’ll be riding down, rather the quality of the course! It’s a 1km downhill route with amazing scenery and some quite tricky sections.

    The Badd on Strava

    As well as this, there is a very active Facebook group - the Cowal Mountain Bike Club - who are good at answering questions and giving cycling advice if you drop them a message.

    100 Greatest Cycling Climbs

    Rest and Be Thankful Mountain
    Rest and Be Thankful in Argyll is 68 in the 100 Greatest Climbs

    There are three of the official ‘100 Greatest Cycling Climbs’ & ‘Another 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs’ in Argyll. Whether you’re trying to tick off the list or not, they’ve made the cut for a reason - they’re pretty spectacular.

    The closest one to Dunoon is Glen Finnart, also known as Ardentinny Hill. If you want to do the category climb itself, it’s less than 3km but steady at 5.7% incline. Doing it in under 10 minutes is a serious challenge!

    164. Glen Finnart on Strava

    If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try the whole Ardentinny Loop, including the climb. Starting from Dunoon, it’s about 30 miles to get to and around the loop. Great views are guaranteed!

    Ardentinny Loop on Strava

    The other two ‘100 Greatest Cycling Climbs’ in the Argyll region are:

    68. Rest and Be Thankful (category 3)
    163. Bealach Maim (category 4)

    Bikepacking in Argyll

    If you prefer longer mountain biking excursions and bikepacking, Argyll and Dunoon have a number of options.

    The Dunoon Dirt Dash

    This friendly and fast two-day ride is 132km long, promising: “the perfect way to experience the rugged beauty of Scotland’s Adventure Coast with fine gravel riding, camaraderie, camping and castles.” 

    The next event will take place in September 2021, though tickets are on sale now.

    Wild About Argyll

    If you want a long bikepacking adventure, but not necessarily as part of a group, look no further than ‘Wild About Argyll’. It’s one of the best in the country and one of the only trails suitable for gravel and mountain bikes alike.

    This is a 655km route with plenty of elevation along the way (13,827m to be precise). It takes you all around Argyll and though Dunoon is not actually on the official route, it’s a great alternative start and endpoint. You can learn more here about Wild About Argyll.

    Mountain Biking in Dunoon and Argyll

    Mountain Biking with an incredible view

    Mountain biking is only continuing to get bigger and bigger in Dunoon and we are so excited to be right next to the action. Our eight-holiday parks are located all around Argyll, including Hunters Quay which is right next to Dunoon. 

    Staying in self-catered accommodation is great for cyclists, with plenty of spacious living areas, places to lock up bikes and some accommodation even having hot tubs to relax in after a day of adventures.

    If you want to try some cycling which is a little easier, check out some of our other favourite cycling routes in Argyll.

    Otherwise, see you soon in Dunoon!

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