The little fishing village of Crinan dates back three hundred and fifty years, far preceding the construction of the canal. You really do get a feeling of a freshly painted little place, so clean and inviting with cool whites and dramatic blacks and lots of lovely details. I particularly liked the twin 'reds' of the phone box and letter box, both essential in remote parts. Some of the yachts moored here had their own post boxes located by the side of the tow path. The little mock lighthouse on the point near the sea with its white guard rails sets the scene of a bygone age we do not encounter so readily these days. The advertising pictures of our famous biscuits is a touch of nostalgia and the bicycle reminds us there are gentler ways of travel to take life easier.
Maybe it was the sunny weather, but the views from the pier at Loch Crinan, looking over towards the Sound of Jura, were a magical sight. The colours of the sea, sky and landscape were a sight for sore eyes. When we returned home I checked a map of this area, apart from the village of Kilmartin, the land to the west is totally desolate of buildings or farms. Wild nature is all you see here - I had feelings of great longing to visit this quiet land mass but I do suspect I would need a boat to get here - or maybe a very long walk from Kilmartin. The only boats in the bay were two small fishing boats but in July the bay is dotted with wooden boats during the Crinan Classic Boat Festival now into its third year. I did buy a postcard featuring this event and will post it when I get my scanner to work. I must admit, although the boat festival would be exciting I did love the lonely feel of Crinan Loch with nothing to spoil the views towards the sea.
The Crinan Canal is known as Britain's most beautiful shortcut. At only nine miles long the canal links Loch Fyne at Ardrishaig with the Sound of Jura at Crinan Loch creating a pathway for ships through the Kintyre Peninsular on the way to the magical Western Isles. Opened in 1801, construction began in 1794, over budget and two years late. The Canal was not properly completed due to John Rennie's numerous engineering faults. The completion of the canal was taken up by the ubiquitous engineer Thomas Telford who redesigned the Canal in 1816. Since Thomas Telford's day the canal has been plain sailing passing through some beautiful countryside. The locks are located at Ardrishaig, Bellanoch, Cairnbaan and Dunardy, all worth a visit. If you come by boat it will take a long six hours - but why hurry - time can drip slowly here and I do wish we could have swapped the faster car for a slow boat trip to really drink in this most spectacular scenery. We had a lovely if lazy time watching all the activity around here, people painting masts on their yachts, watching the lock operator bringing the yachts through at the touch of a button and best of all just watching the local ducks swimming amongst some high priced sea craft.
Popped in to this quaint & comfy little pub for lunch It had a nice homely atmosphere with good home cooked food & a good selection of Real Ales. The log fire was very welcoming as the day was dreigh but not so the bar staff who kept us laughing with their cheery banter.
Favorite Dish: I had Scotch Broth & turkey & ham sandwich washed down by a glass of their Real Ale named Braveheart all very delicious
The Clyde Puffers used to be a familiar sight sailing the Crinan Canal. Their purpose was to bring coal from the Glasgow area to the West Coast and return with a cargo of whisky from the distilleries in the Western Isles. When we arrived at Crinan Basin Kenny exclaimed 'oh look an old puffer' I replied 'some people might think you were talking about yourself!' Unfortunately, the old puffer we were looking for was the Vic ll, it must have been out on a tourist sailing trip because there was no sign of it in the basin. Instead we found to our surprise an old tug boat the Duke of Normandy ll. This tug was built in 1934 in Einswarden, Oldenburg Germany. It was owned in the U.K. by the State of Jersey and sold in 1972 to Arrochar Boating Company. The tug was re registered in Gourock and made its way to the west coast in a dilapidated condition. Here at Crinan it has been lovingly restored to its former glory. A great testament to times past and future knowledge kept for the next generation.
We spotted the Crinan Hotel when we arrived here. It seemed to be always busy especially on the outside deck area. So we waited for a gap in the eating traffic, after a while of spotting the boats, watching the ducks and seeing the arrival and departure of yachts we decided to venture inside. Unlike the deck area, there was seating available inside, thank goodness for small mercies. Inside all was extremely nice albeit a little pompous, but so what, no worries, now we could look forward to some lunch. We asked at the bar for a lunch menu only to be told they had stopped serving lunch. What is the point of advertising Lunch between 12.00 till 14.30 if this stops at 14.00 I did feel they had made their quota on a busy day and feel if things were quieter they would have been happy to serve up some lunch. We did order a drink but had to suffer great hunger pangs while watching other diners savouring some sea food delights.
Unique Suggestions: There is a coffee shop here too but unfortunately belongs to the hotel. While we were there it was not open so wasn't an option to savour their home-bakes. Luckily I always have a supply of snacks such as crisps, peanuts, chocolate bars and some bottled water packed in my bag just in case I have to have an impromptu picnic!