Ardentinny is a small coastal hamlet located on the western side of Loch Long on the beautiful Cowal Peninsula. The deep dark lochs here, with their steep, often mountainous sides, provide dramatic scenery which makes this part of the National Park really special.
The beach north of the village is the longest on the Cowal Peninsula and has been popular with all types of visitors over the years – Viking fleets, Gaelic raiders, wartime Commando assault boats and today’s tourists. With beginnings all the way to the Iron Age (the Dun Daraich Iron Age fort remains are nearby), Ardentinny was established as a ferry crossing across Loch Long to Coulport on the eastern shore and became a hub for travellers from across Argyll. The alternative was a long hike round the top of the loch. By crossing the Argyll sea lochs, the Cowal Peninsula and Argyll became much closer to lowland Scotland.
The ferry was based on the Coulport side and could be summoned by lighting a signal fire at Ardentinny. This included the Dukes of Argyll travelling from Inveraray Castle to their second home at Rosneath Castle, and Highland drovers taking herds of cattle to market. People would take the ferry while the cattle would swim the mile across the loch.
The ferry is no longer in operation , but evidence still remains. One is Ferry Cottages, built in the early 1800s. A second is the nearby Ardentinny Hotel, parts of which are said to be over 400 years old. At Glen Finart there’s a stone tower, the remains of Glenfinart House. Built in about 1840, it was destroyed by fire in 1968 and demolished, all except the tower.
There are a number of walking trails in Ardentinny that will lead you up the shoreline and through the adjacent woods. Explore the stunning woodland on routes once the preserve of Ardentinny’s foresters, who nurtured seedlings here. A walk along an 11km (7 mi) path will lead you to Carrick Castle. Just south of the car park, you can stop off at Glenfinart Walled Garden, a community garden that was formerly the produce garden of Glenfinart House.
The National Park has a total of 39 miles of coastline around Loch Long, Loch Goil and the Holy Loch. Their deep basins, shallow sills and sheltered shores make these lochs ideal habitats for wildlife.
Ardentinny’s sandy beach is the longest on the Cowal Peninsula and is a great place to enjoy beautiful views of Loch Long. You’ll spot a wide variety of wildlife with an abundance of creatures to be found in the small rock pools and in amongst the exposed seaweed. If you travel around the coast, look out for seals, porpoises and sea birds like guillemots and gannets, or go rock pooling to look for crabs and sea anemones.
The village name translates from Gaelic as “hill of fire” or “Beacon Hill”.