6 Best Sights in Loch Awe, Argyll and the Isles

Bonawe Iron Furnace

Fodor's choice

Seemingly out of place in this near-wilderness setting, Bonawe is a fascinating relic from the dawn of Britain's Industrial Revolution. In the mid-18th century, Argyll's virgin forests attracted ironmasters from England, where such valuable fuel sources were harder to find. Business boomed when wars with France boosted demand for pig iron and cannonballs, and in its heyday Bonawe employed up to 600 unskilled local wood gatherers and skilled southern foundrymen.


Like the lair of a classic James Bond villain, this triumph of 20th-century British technology lurks deep within a vast man-made cavern. Hidden 3,000 feet beneath the slopes of Ben Cruachan, the colossal water-driven turbines of this subterranean power station, completed in 1965, supply clean energy to much of Scotland. The ½-mile bus ride from the surface to the generating hall is a surreal experience, made all the more so by the subtropical plants that thrive under artificial light in the warm, humid atmosphere.

Duncan Ban Macintyre Monument

The monument was erected in honor of this Gaelic poet (1724–1812), sometimes referred to as the Robert Burns of the Highlands. He fought at Culloden and wrote poetry and song in the language of the clans. The view from here is one of the finest in Argyll, taking in Ben Cruachan and the other peaks nearby, as well as Loch Awe and its scattering of islands. To find the monument from Dalmally, just east of Loch Awe, follow an old road running southwest toward the banks of the loch. You can see the round, granite structure from the road's highest point, often called Monument Hill.

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Kilchurn Castle

This is one of Argyll's most evocative ruins, with its crumbling lochside towers and high ramparts. Built by the Campbells in the 15th century, Kilchurn was rebuilt as a government garrison after the troubles of the late 17th century. The castle was abandoned after peace came to the Highlands following the final defeat of the Jacobite cause in 1746.

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Rest and Be Thankful

This viewpoint at the highest point of the route from Loch Lomond to Inveraray is one of the few places where you can pull off the road to enjoy the spectacular panorama. It's an ideal place to take some selfies, and it's easy to imagine how it earned its name in the days when the only travelers on this trail went on foot or on horseback.

St. Conan's Kirk

St. Conan's may look medieval, but in fact, it's less than 100 years old. Built in 1930 from local boulders, it features modern stained glass and wood and stone carvings, including an effigy of Robert the Bruce.