Navigating the well worn and sometimes slippery stone steps that wind through the narrow woodland gorge of Puck's Glen is hazardous enough at times, but they are not the only reason you have to drag your eyes from the bewitching scenery to check your footing from time to time. Poca Ban is the resident spirit that disguises itself as a ball of wool and rolls around the glen looking for unsuspecting victims to trip up all in the name of some warped fairy fun. It seems quite fitting that a glen named after the mischievous sprite in Shakespeare's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' has a playful spirit of its own.
Poca Ban is not the only mystical Scottish fairy that you might encounter on your walk through Puck's Glen, concealed in the trees you might spot a Ghillie Dhu, wearing clothes of leaves and moss or catch a glimpse of the nature sprites that dance in the leafy shade of the ferns.
It's very easy to believe that enchanted creatures are hiding in the shadows of this magical landscape and I mean magical in the truest sense of the word as it really feels like you have crossed an invisible barrier into an otherworldly dimension. Frothy waterfalls, bubbling pools, hanging moss, tumbled stones and tall shady ferns, Puck's Glen is prime real estate for fairy folk.
James Duncan originally developed the pathways through the gorge in the 1870s when he was the owner of Benmore Estate. A sugar merchant, scientist and art-collector from Greenock, he designed Puck's Glen near Dunoon as a place that would impress his guests. With the fascination for fairy-tales and folklore in the Victorian era, I'm sure they would have been suitably spell bound.
Almost 150 years after it was developed for visitors, the area still remains a bit of a secret gem on the Scottish tourist trail although locals and those in the know regard it is one of Scotland's best short walks and I would fully agree. A Celtic rain forest with a diverse and flourishing eco-system, it is as close as you will find to a temperate rain forest on this side of the Atlantic, it's hard to believe you are still in Scotland!
When you do finally reach the end of the narrow gorge, a flight of steps leads you above the steep rock faces and out into the open with a much more typically Scottish view across the glen towards the mountains.
Puck's Glen is undoubtedly one of Scotland's most magical places and after entering such a spellbinding world, it is hard not to believe that fairies do indeed reside in this lusciously green and unique corner of Argyll.
Puck's Glen is approx 6 miles from the town of Dunoon on the Cowal Peninsula.
The Puck's Glen Gorge Trail is a circular route of 1 3/4 miles / 2.7 km and you should allow 1 - 2 hours to complete it.
It is narrow in sections and has quite a few flights of stairs, some of which are uneven and slippery so walking shoes or boots are best.
I would say it is suitable for most fitness levels as you don't have to complete the whole walk to experience the magic!
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