I HAVE travelled north of the border several times and am constantly bowled over by its spectacular landscapes.

Shimmering lochs, magnificent mountains, remote woodlands and golden beaches – Scotland has some awesome scenery. But I wasn't sure what to expect on my latest trip to a little corner of that fine country.

Ever heard of the Rosneath and Cowal peninsulas? It wouldn't surprise me if not because it's one of the remotest areas in the west of mainland Scotland. And it is breathtakingly beautiful.

Rosneath and Cowal are in Argyll and Bute, bounded by the Firth of Clyde and Long Long on the east and Loch Fyne on the west. The best way to get to Rosneath is to travel north from Glasgow, loop round the top of Loch Gare and double back along the shore. Cowal is next door, just over Loch Long.

In truth, the pretty village of Rosneath is just a 45 minute drive from Glasgow – but it might as well be a million miles away. My fiancee, Frances, and I spent two night there, in a cosy wooden cabin. Our secluded home was compact, but comfortable and the perfect spot to explore the area.

It's a fabulous setting, but not for anyone who needs to be near local amenities – the village has a Co-op and a Chinese takeaway but precious little else.

Residents clearly have a strong sense of civic pride in where they live, something evident in the other villages we saw during a drive round the peninsula. A particular favourite was Kilgreggan, which has many grand houses and a spectacular shoreline.

We were in the area specifically to visit the ruins of Dunans (pronounced Doo-nans) Castle. The reason we were so keen to go was because Frances owns some land there – well sort of.

A birthday present from her sister, Frances is officially a 'Lady of Dunans Castle'. It means she has a plot of land in the castle grounds, entitles her to wear the official Dunans Rising tartan and allows her to take a free guided tour. In reality it's a bit of fun, a fundraising initiative to help restore the building which was ruined by fire in 2001.

The setting for the Dunans estate could not have been more beautiful and the drive to it from our base was stunning, rivalling anything I have seen in Scotland. Of particular note was a breathtaking stretch of the A83 in Glen Kinglass, dominated by the imposing Beinn Ime mountain and framed by the charming Butter Bridge crossing.

Once at Dunans, our expert tour guide told us all about the history of the estate, which included tales of the various Scottish clans connected to the land - the Campbells, Lamonts and Fletchers key among them.

The estate was eventually sold off and split up and the castle itself has a chequered recent history, culminating in the calamitous blaze which has left it a shell. Its present owners have ambitious plans to transform the castle into a public building for events and occasions, with accommodation – but other parts of the estate also need attention. For example, the A-listed Dunans Bridge – designed by Thomas Telford – needs an estimated £1m alone to shore up its crumbling foundations.

It's a big job, but they are confident the castle will rise from the ashes – and Frances and I are pleased to have played a small part in its restoration.

As ours was only a short break, we had little time to explore the wider area. But one trip we did make was to the Benmore Botanic Garden. Renowned for its fine collections of rhododendrons, other features include a dramatic 150-year-old avenue of towering redwood trees. Frances and I particularly enjoyed the Chilean sector – the monkey puzzle trees giving a rare glimpse into a South American rainforest – and the enchanting Victorian Fernery, which has recently been restored.

There is so much more we could have done. Recent visitors to our cabin recommended trips to the nearby village of Luss and the towns of Dunoon and Inveraray. And it's an ideal base for exploring the Trossachs and Loch Lomond National Park.

Rosneath and Cowal may be remote, but it's certainly beautiful and it has been added to our list of places we must return to.