Despite being near to Glasgow Bute and the Cowal Peninsula are surprisingly quiet.
This is a weekend ride, but could also be the start of a longer tour from Glasgow.
From Wemyss Bay, catch the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Rothesay on the island of Bute, a thirty minute crossing. Ferries depart from Wemyss Bay at hourly intervals. Train service from Glasgow Central, taking a bike on this train is not a problem.
The climb out of Tighnabruaich starts steeply, take in the extra loop or not, but afterwards head north for Otter Ferry. There is a hotel at Kilfinan and The Oystercatcher Restaurant at Otter Ferry. Otter Ferry is a lovely spot, with a tiny harbour and a pebble beach, ideal for a picnic. It also has a small shop with ice cream and some food. There is an option to shorten your distance here and head directly east for Dunoon via Glen Lean. Don't be under any illusion that this is easier, there are some fierce hills this way. The route up Loch Fyne is easier if longer.
It's never long enough for me though, for this is one of the loveliest rides in Scotland: flat, hardly any cars, the wind usually behind you. You sail along in beautiful scenery past long shingle beaches.
This flat section ends just south of Newton, where you briefly leave the sea climbing inland. Turn left to the A886 near Newton to continue north to Strachur. The Post Office at Strachur, just before the road junction, is also a small tea room with tables outside. The Clachan Bar, after the road junction, does sandwiches etc.
The next section is south past Loch Eck. Shortly after Strachur turn right off the A815 to a minor road signed Glenbranter.
At Loch Eck you can cycle on the A815, or use a forest road on the west side of the loch. This is fairly smooth and could be cycled on any wide tyre bike. For this turn right at the T junction at the end of the minor road, then bear left to Glenshellish Farm. There are marked mountain bike routes in Glen Shellish.
Loch Eck is notable for a fresh water herring which was marooned in the loch when it was cut off from the sea. It has adapted to fresh water but is tasteless.
From the forest road turn left at Victorian stables to the Younger Botanic Garden (tea room) and the A815. At Dunoon use the coast road for the ferry. Note Western Ferries (01369 704452) and Caledonian MacBrayne (01369 706491) both operate ferries from Dunoon to Gourock, all the terminal points differ.