CC BY-SA, © Raibeart MacAoidh -

Location: Cowal
lighthouses, archaeology

Castle Toward and Toward Castle

Two miles south of Innellan is the clachan of Toward. It’s well-known headland, Toward Point, is a celebrated navigational mark for shipping, with a 56-foot-tall lighthouse built in 1812.

Toward has always been associated with the Lamonts for they were, for a long time, the ruling clan of Cowal. There were always feuds between the Lamonts and the Campbells, the rival clan of the area, and these culminated tragically in the terrible massacre of 1646.

Toward Castle, the Lamont stronghold at that time, is now a mass of ruins. People often confuse this castle with Castle Toward. The latter is another of those large, pretentious, baronial mansions so loved by the wealthy men of Glasgow during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. As so many other buildings in the Cowal District, this house was designed in about 1819 by David Hamilton for Kirkman Finlay. During his ownership of Castle Toward Finlay planted at least five million trees over nine hundred acres of land. He also enclosed, drained and tilled the fields of the estate, making it a model of farming methods which were admired and copied throughout the area. Kirkman died in 1842 and his son, Alexander Struthers Finlay, JP, and later MP for Argyll, inherited the property.

Descendants of Kirkman Finlay still owned the house in the days of Isabella MacVicar's childhood. She remembered, "They had an Argyll motor-car with a klaxon horn. It was simply wonderful. Whenever I heard the klaxon I would say to myself 'Castle Toward'." Isabella recalled some of the Coats family (the famous thread manufacturers of Paisley) living there during the summer months in the 1930s. A huge station wagon used to pick them up from Dunoon Pier, where they arrived with piles of luggage and an assortment of dogs.

Castle Toward was for many years an Outdoor Education Centre run by a trust. Castle Toward and the estate were sold by Argyll and Bute Council in 2016 to private owners.

As told by Renee Forsyth, resident of Ardnadam

More information on visiting the area can be found here.