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To the east of the top of Loch Awe is Dalmally, a small but historically important town. Its 18th-century church is built in an octagonal shape.

For reminders of the days when the Campbells of Inveraray held supreme power in the Loch Awe region, there's another ruined castle at Fincharn, at the southern end of the loch, and another on the island of Fraoch Eilean. The Isle of Inishail has an ancient chapel and burial ground.

The bulk of Ben Cruachan, rising to 1,119m (3,671 ft.), dominates Loch Awe at its northern end and attracts climbers and hikers. On the Ben is the world's second-largest hydroelectric power station, which pumps water from Loch Awe to a reservoir high up on the mountain.

Below are the Falls of Cruachan and the wild Pass of Brander, where Robert the Bruce routed the Clan MacDougall in 1308. The Pass of Brander was the scene of many a fierce battle in bygone times, and something of that bloody past seems to brood over the narrow defile. Through it, the waters of the Awe flow on their way to Loch Etive. This winding sea loch is 31km (19 miles) long, stretching from Dun Dunstaffnage Bay, at Oban, to Glen Etive, and reaching into the Moor of Rannoch at the foot of the 910m (3,000-ft.) Buachaille Etive (the Shepherd of Etive).

Castle of the Once Mighty Campbells -- The ruins of Kilchurn Castle are at the northern tip of Loch Awe, west of Dalmally, and across from the south-bank village of Loch Awe. A stronghold of the Campbells of Glen Orchy in 1440, it's a spectacular ruin with much of the original structure still intact. The ruins have been completely reinforced and balconied, so you can now explore them when the weather permits.

Kilchurn Castle is open to the public. The title to the grounds (but not the castle itself -- that is part of Historic Scotland) is held by Ian Cleaver, owner of Highland Heritage Coach Tours (tel. 01838/200-444; www.kilchurncastle.com). The Castle is accessible via an unpaved and rocky road, about half a mile from the main road, A85. There is no parking area, however.

A simpler alternative is to take a steamboat cruise from Loch Awe. Ardanaiseig Hotel (tel. 01866/833-333; www.ardanaiseig.com) runs cruises to Kilchurn Castle departing from Loch Awe. This vessel runs on a chartered basis, costing £100 to £150 per hour; passengers can share the cost. The trip takes about a half-hour each way.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.