This enchanting pocket of woodland offers much more than just a two-mile trail. It’s a wonderful sensory experience: giant trees like Californian redwoods, Western hemlocks, and Douglas firs fringe paths that wind by small waterfalls, bubbling ponds, dank dripping walls, cute little wooden bridges, and moss-covered boulders, all soundtracked by birdsong.
Puck’s Glen, named after the sprite in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, has passed through many owners. It was the hunting grounds of the Campbells of Ballochmyle and is now under the domain of the Scottish Forestry Commission.
But it was James Duncan, a sugar merchant, who developed the trails around the gorge on what was then his estate for visitors to enjoy in the 1870s. The paths are a bit uneven, but that doesn’t stop keen photographers from traversing the at-times muddy terrain in search of the perfect shot. And they aren’t the only ones who frequent the area.
Keep an eye out for the fairy folk locals say live there. Poca Ban is a rather malevolent sprite who likes to disguise himself as a ball of wool and trip up passersby. Charming! Then there’s the shy Ghillie Dhu, who wears clothes of leaves and moss and is hard to spot.
Know Before You Go
Follow the signs from Dunoon to Benmore Gardens if traveling by car. You will see signposts for Puck's Glen and the car park is on the right. It's free to visit and so is the car park. Be sure to use the disinfectant mats upon entering, as this helps protect the trees!
Sturdy boots are recommended and care needs to be taken with small children and boisterous dogs as the banks can be quite high in parts.
The best time to visit is in June when the rhododendrons are in flower, or during and after the rain when the many little waterfalls are in full spate, or on a sunny day when sunbeams shine through the trees, lighting up the wings of little insects—really, any day is good.