Friday, August 31, 2018

The Crinan Canal For Me

The Crinan Canal

For nine green and flowered miles the Crinan Canal runs between Crinan and Ardrishaig (Ard Drish Aig) in Argyll and Bute in the West of Scotland. It opened in 1801 takes its name from the village of Crinan at its western end. Crinan is a tiny place. Turn left off a main road and its single track, up down, left, right, back the way you came and bump into a Highland cow. The kind of place that makes you wonder how they deliver a fridge freezer.

But I was informed there was a good coffee shop there. That does good cakes.

It connects Loch Gilp with the Sound of Jura and that will mean nothing to you, but if you were a Johnny sailor type of chappie out on the ocean wave heading west, you might be a bit irritated if Scotland was in the way of where you wanted to get to.

The Mull of Kintyre (  yes, of THAT song), sticks out down the way and the seas round that peninsula can be a bit on the rough side due to currents, foul language, Paul McCartney, lochs, High winds, monsters, torrential rain, haggis etc. The Crinan canal cuts that out. Once on the other side you can turn south ( whatever nautical term that is) and sail into the Clyde estuary  and then hook up with another canal – the Forth and Clyde Union Canal and that  connects – yes you’ve guessed it – the Forth River  ( Edinburgh  on the east) and the Clyde (here in the glorious west). So by negotiating  a few locks and  coffee shops, and loads of tourists  saying ‘left a bit, left a bit’ as  any second boat tries  to park behind a wide tug already in the lock, then you can cut right across Scotland to the  glories of Europe on the other side.

The negotiating of the canals is easier than negotiating Brexit.

The Crinan Canal was designed by civil engineer John Rennie and work started in 1794, as is usual with such projects, the construction was beset by issues with finance and poor weather.

 The canal bank near Lochgilphead failed in 1805 and the canal's course had to be diverted when the ground got too marshy. Now this provides very easy and unobtrusive access to marsh dwelling wildlife.

The Duke of Argyll who was chair of the project asked no lesser person than Thomas Telford to help them iron out some of the issues. The great engineer   (who also did the bridge in Bristol) suggested improvements to locks and a redesign of the canal to include swing bridges.

Queen Victoria had a wee jaunt through the Crinan canal in 1847, four horses pulling her along. I presume somebody had given her a boat of some kind.

After  that the canal turned into a tourist attraction.

It was then referred to as the “Royal route" and by the late 1850s, nearly 50 000 people had gone from Ardrishaig to Crinan or vice versa.

Now, with the addition of new sea locks at either end of the canal, the canal is accessible in any 
height of tide. About 2,000 boats annually make their way from one end to the other.

Here’s a wee song about it.
The Crinan Canal for me;

I don't like the wild raging sea
Them big foamin' breakers
Wad gie ye the shakers
The Crinan Canal for me.

And two rather interesting facts of a slightly baser nature.  Dukes is Scottish rhyming slang Haemorrhoids; Duke of Argylls- Piles- Haemorrhoids.  And (this is true) in UK there are strict rules about male nudity on the TV. Some male appendages are allowed to be seen naked only after a certain time usually 9pm, and even then, only in a relaxed state. Anything ‘not relaxed’ is deemed as porn and not allowed at any time! So how do they judge that? They judge it against the angle of the Mull Of Kintyre… which might suggest that McCartney was having a little giggle all along.
Here’s some pics!


Caro Ramsay

31st August 2018


  1. I love the nooks and crannies of wee Scotland. One is always bumping into something interesting.

    1. Nothing higher than the Mull of Kintyre, one would hope, Stan...

    2. We pack a lot into a wee country!!

  2. Wow, Caro, what lovely pictures. That some have blue sky makes me hopeful that if I ever come back to wonderful Glasgow, I may not need to bring a sunlamp. :)

  3. Beautiful pictures, engaging tales and much thanks for the last paragraph leaving us all mulling over the angle of the dangle.