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Sailing from Holy Loch to Loch Goil

After two nights at Holy Loch Marina waiting for some strong winds to pass, the time had come for us to cast off our lines once more and head further north. Our destination was Lochgoilhead, at the head of Loch Goil, which branches off from Loch Long.

Our first challenge was getting off of the pontoon at Holy Loch Marina! With a squall hitting just as we were about to depart we had to delay our departure by about 20 minutes. Fortunately we had started to get quite used to reading the weather up here and you can see the squalls rolling in, allowing you time to prepare. That said we still had around 16 knots blowing us on so we had to really give it some power to spring us off once the squall had passed.

As we headed out of Holy Loch the wind started gusting up to 30 knots from behind but as soon as we made our turn at Strone Point we were in the lee of the land and the wind completely dropped off.

Strone Point

Free Mooring Buoy at the The Ardentinny

Mooring Buoys at The Ardentinny

At the southern end of Finart Bay in Loch Long is The Ardentinny which has 6 free mooring buoys for visitors on the premise that you go ashore and spend some money in the bar/restaurant. These are pink mooring buoys with a small pick up buoy – in fact too small for our boat hook! They are only rated to 7 tonnes and the line did have quite a few barnacles on it so do use with caution. We asked the landlady when had they last been serviced and she replied saying she thinks they were serviced last year (so some time in 2023). We landed our dinghy at the floating pontoon along the beach and tied up with a long line to allow for the tide. Alternatively you can just land on the beach but it is rather stoney.

Floating Pontoon at Finart Bay

Loch Long is subject to Dockyard Restrictions. On the eastern shore of Loch Long is the Royal Naval Armaments Depot Coulport, shortened to RNAD Coulport, which is the storage and loading facility for the nuclear warheads of the United Kingdom’s Trident programme. The base has a prohibited area which is patrolled by guard boats and at certain times access to the whole area is restricted altogether. According to our pilot book ‘Clyde Cruising Club’s Firth of Clyde‘ when restrictions are in force three green lights disposed vertically and pennant Nine are shown at the Coulport Jetty and on the naval patrol craft.

Royal Naval Armaments Depot Coulport

Visitor Mooring Buoys at Lochgoilhead

After our one night stay at The Ardentinny we headed up to Loch Goil. Fortunately for us there were no restrictions in place around Coulport however we did stay well over to the western shore to be on the safe side! The weather does change quickly here, one minute it was sunny the next it was peeing it down! But fortunately as Loch Goil opened up so did the sunshine and we got our first glimpse at the outstanding beauty of this loch.

The Lochgoilhead Jetty Trust provide 10 visitor mooring buoys (rated 15T) at a donation cost of £15 a night (June 2024). The buoys are yellow and are clearly marked as visitors, with a pick up line. We do not know when they were last serviced, and some online Facebook chatter seems to suggest that they may not have been serviced for a while. We chose to move off of our first buoy as the line looked as though it was a little chafed, as if a prop had perhaps caught it. However the second one seemed fine, albeit with a few sharp barnacles on the line which we scraped off to avoid it scratching our hull. It is surprisingly deep here, we saw 21m below and yet we were probably only about 50 metres from the shore!

Lochgoilhead Pontoon and Visitor Moorings

Payment for the buoys can be made via a bank transfer, the account details are listed on the noticeboard at the top of the pontoon and on their website. Alternatively there is an honesty box whereby you can make payment in cash. Surprisingly we were the only visitors during our 3 night weekend stay.


There is a landing pontoon where you can tie up your dinghy and a bin at the top of the gangway. Glass recycling points can be found in the adjacent car park. Across the road there is a (very!) small shop and post office though this does close at 4.00pm. Unfortunately the local pub the ‘Goil Inn’ was closed during our visit.

Lochgoilhead Jetty Trust Pontoon

About a 20 minute walk away is the impressive 5* Drimsynie Holiday Village which offers a wealth of activities including archery, axe throwing, canoeing, zorbing, paddleboarding, climbing, gorge walking and bike hire, to name but a few! There is also a 9-hole golf course, swimming pool, sauna, steam room, and jacuzzi and day visitors are welcome. The View Bar & Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers panoramic views over the loch.

The village also has a well stocked Nisa/Coop shop, open from 8.00am till 8.00pm Friday, Saturday and Monday, and 8.00am to 6.00pm on all other days (June 2024). There is also a laundry room – £5 for a wash, £1 for 15 minutes in the tumble drier.

Lochgoilhead Golf Course

Back on board we hardly felt a thing from the F4 to F6 westerly / north westerly wind so it was a nice little protected spot. That said we weren’t overly thrilled with the 2°C temperature overnight, after all this is June!

Despite the chill factor the scenery here is absolutely stunning and we’d highly recommend a visit. The conifer, pine, oak and spruce trees dominate the surrounding hills and mountains, and the log cabins and lodges of the holiday village blend in quite nicely, giving it a somewhat Scandinavian feel… make the trip up here, it won’t disappoint!


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