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The coast of Argyll, Crinan canal

Home -> Europe -> Scotland -> Travelogue Scotland -> 27 August 2006

Sunday 27 August, the coast of Argyll, Crinan canal

The morning starts gray and the rain falls steadily down, so we do not rush this morning. Today we want to drive all kinds of roads, yet unknown to us, along the coast and we first head for Crinan. When we arrive there, the sun suddenly breaks through the clouds and we immediately take off our sweaters, the temperature is rising fast.
The harbour of Crinan Crinan canalIn Crinan the Crinan Canal begins (or ends), a 14 kilometer long canal that connects the Sound of Jura with Loch Fyne so that ships do not have to make a giant detour around the Mull of Kintyre where it can heavily storm. The landscape around the canal looks almost Dutch, pretty un-Scottish. There are 15 locks that the skippers themselves have to operate by hand and with this sudden beautiful weather it is a joy to watch.
Lighthouse at CrinanAt the lighthouse we see a castle-like building on the other side of the canal, it turns out to be Duntrune Castle. A bagpipe player who was killed by the inhabitants because he warned the besiegers that they had been discovered, is still ghosting around.
Loch Crinan Loch CrinanCrinan is only a small village but does have its own fishing port and fleet. And the canal has also provided tourism, there are now also many boats on the canal. With so much traffic and so many lochs travelling those 14 kilometers by boat does take a lot of time, maybe a whole day.
TayvallichThe west coast of Scotland is full of long peninsulas and Knapdale is one of them. There is only one road with a few short branches. But almost everywhere there are boats in Loch Sween, like here at Tayvallich. Again this is a beautiful area with forests, the sea and the lochs, especially while the sun is shining.
Sween CastleThen we drive along the east bank of Loch Sween and pass Castle Sween, the oldest stone castle in Scotland. It is a pity that there is a large caravan park with texts to scare visitors away. And people don't really look friendly at us when we start walking over the campsite to reach the castle. We go back soon and have not visited the castle itself although it should be possible.
Lock at Bellanoch So, access for anybody?Again this is a 'returning' road, or a dead end and we drive back to the Crinan canal. We are already on the road for 3 hours and see the same boats that we saw before in Crinan. Via Lochgilphead we now continue to the southwest and at Kilberry we look at a number of gravestones with remarkable engravings. The castle that has to be close by, however, we do not get to see and signs prohibit us from entering the yard. Just like the road sign that we see a while later at Glenralloch. Prohibited for cars 'except for access'. So if you want to access it then you can!?
View on LochgilpheadWhen we approach Lochgilphead from the south, the blue skies disappear and occasionally it drizzles. The temperature drops to 16 degrees and we feel lucky that we have seen plenty of sun today until now!
Kilmory Castle A gnome on a toadstoolSlightly south of Lochgilphead is Kilmory Castle, although it is not even listed as a castle on the site of the town! The gardens around it are very nice, even though they are not as big as at some other castles. It is like a wild garden which is well taken care of with many separate plants, shrubs and trees. And wooden mushrooms. The castle itself is being renovated and it seems that it has been purchased by a company that wants to have a suitable head office.
Achnabreck, rock engravingsFinally we take a look at Achnabreck, where a steep walk through the forest (very slippery over those wet mud paths!) rewards us with various prehistoric petroglyphs, mainly circles and spirals. Historians think they are about 5000 years old and one can recognize different styles, but no one knows who and why they were made.
The drizzle turns into rain again and we decide to drive back to the hotel again. We do some shopping and before 7'o clock we are back in our hotelroom with a view on the rain, rain and more rain ... No problem because we are dry and have a lot of books with us to pass the time. But we are so glad that we are not in a tent on Arran as our first intention was!


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