The Steeple. Lochgoilhead. December 2018

View over lochgoilhead

Helen Rose. Outdoor Diary

Tempting Fate

My last visit to this area was seven years ago when I broke my leg in an accident coming down from a col on the other side of the village. I was concerned at returning to the same area to climb a hill with the same club and with the same people who helped me at that time. I did not need to worry as we had a lovely day out climbing a small mountain with magnificent views all round.

When we arrived in Lochgoilhead by a tortuous single track road for 15 miles, I looked over to the other side of the village and up to the hill by the waterfall where I had slipped in mud but here I am seven years later still walking up hills! It was a lovely sunny, bright day when we set out on the walk so the effort of climbing the hill would be rewarded with magnificent views.


Lochgoilhead in Scottish Gaelic is Ceann Loch Goibhle and is a village on the Cowal peninsula in Argyll and Bute in the Southern Scottish Highlands. It is located within the Loch Lomond National Park and is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful areas in Argyll and in Scotland as a whole. The area has been inhabited for over 10,000 years, with the original name for the area being Kil nam brathairan. There are Neolithic remains in the area, including nearby cup marks and a well-preserved corn kiln. The area is associated with the history of Clan Campbell, who drove the Lamonts from the area in the fourteenth century.

Lochgoilhead used to be an important stop on the route between Glasgow and Inverary, as travellers would arrive by boat and continue by coach to St Catherine’s, where they would board a second boat to cross Loch Fyne. You can travel from Dunoon but it is also a single track road.

It is a lovely, sleepy, little village on the shores of the loch and surrounded by hills. We noticed a lot of fragments of mussel shells on the ground and Gerena told us they were caused by the birds dropping them on hard surfaces to crack them open to reach the mussels. Loch Goil is a sea loch. The area is ideal for adventure and we met a group of children who had been out on the loch kayaking and were about to go scrambling on the Steeple rocks and then abseiling.

The Steeple

From sea level to the summit of Steeple Hill is 1,236ft. This can be a bit of a scramble in places so it is not to be underestimated. We walked to the back of the village and took a well-defined path gradually climbing for less than an hour until we reached a scenic spot for morning refreshments. Kathleen had been busy in the kitchen and had lovely chocolate brownies to share with hot drinks from our flasks. This is what I love about walking groups, the camaraderie and being with likeminded people. We put the world to rights on our walks and support each other.

From the stop we continued on the path which was muddy due to recent heavy rainfall and stopped regularly to look around at the view as we did a circular route. There was some downhill before we approached to the final top of the hill which had a wall of rock on the front. We continued round to the shoulder to take an easier route to the summit where we were rewarded by views all around and to distant hills and lochs.

We descended by a slightly different route which eventually took us off the path and through tussocky grass. Care had to be taken as there could be holes in the ground with deeper mud. In winter, there are shorter daylight hours and we have to ensure we are back before darkness falls. The walk took over four hours including breaks and was very enjoyable.

On returning to Lochgoilhead, we went in to the Goil Inn for refreshments. The barmaid was extremely efficient and managed to pour pints of beer and make tea at the same time. I have praised her on Trip Advisor. Also, thanks to Gerena for organising the walk.
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This section: Helen Rose Hillwalking Diary, Travel

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Avatar of HelenRose Scottish hill walker and writer for Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End.

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