Back on the boring and dusty road, in the heat, I’m dying for this part of my walk to end.
But I’m cheered by an occasional glimpse of the incredible view. From up here the sea is a soft blue, and as flat as a piece of silk. Only a few waves – and the wake of a tiny ship, turning in circles far below – ruffle the water.
I soon spot a footpath going down the slope to my left. Thinking it must head down to the shore, I follow it. This is better. Much better. It turns out to be a delightful, shaded path, running through woodland.
And then I’m walking down by the water. If I turned to my left, I might be able to find the sailor’s grave – shown on my map as a dot. But I’m feeling too tired for diversions, so I turn right instead, and head towards Crinan Harbour.
Sailing ships lie quietly anchored just off the shore. The faintest of breezes creates a series of gentle ripples in the water. So beautiful.
I meet an elderly couple walking along the path. “Don’t stop,” the woman says, calling back to her husband, but with an instruction clearly aimed at me. “The midges!”
Yes. There are plenty of midges about. They’re dancing in the shadows under the trees. Luckily, I’m already covered in Smidge, and it seems to keep the wee beasties away.
I spot Crinan Harbour on the far side of a little bay.
When I reach the harbour, there are a number of families wandering about splashing around in kayaks. It is a really idyllic day.
I follow the road along the water. A sign asks people not to disturb the oyster catcher which, for some inexplicable reason, has decided to nest in a hanging basket on the wall of one of the cottages.
(The photograph above is rather blurred, sorry, but I didn’t want to get too close.)
The road comes to an end at a slipway. I stand and look out over the sheltered waters of Loch Crinan, where a fair number of boats are moored – a mix of fancy sailing ships and down-to-earth fishing tugs.
I turn back and start looking for a path to take me further around via the shore. There’s definitely one on my map… ah, here it is… cunningly hidden on the other side of a car park, and tucked behind a bin.
The path emerges on another road. I walk down, past the chandlers…
… where I spot this old boat propped up on scaffolding. Auld Reekie. Great name!
There’s a large, white hotel beside the water. It’s an odd shape. Maybe designed to look like a ship? I would guess 1950s style.
I sit on the hotel’s terrace and have a cold drink. It’s a pretty spot, and overlooks the entrance (or exit) to the Crinan Canal. Love the white lighthouse with the red stripe.
As the sun leaves the terrace, the midges begin to gather. People start waving hands in front of their faces, and slap at their exposed skin. Despite feeling reasonably confident in my Smidge protection, I decide it’s time to leave.
The next part of my walk follows the edge of Crinan Canal, where a narrow strip of land separates the canal from the loch. The canal is wide and looks more like a river than a traditional British canal. The path is a combined walking/cycling route, and I meet joggers, strollers, cyclists… but very few ships.
From time to time there’s a bridge across the waterway. This one looks too low for ships to pass under, and is a swing bridge, I think, although I never get a chance to see it in action.
A beautiful walk. The canal itself is only 9 miles long, connects Loch Fyne with Loch Crinan, and provides a shortcut for ships wanting to avoid the long and hazardous sea journey around the Mull of Kintyre.
In places the canal widens out, and in one of these wide stretches is the Bellanoch Marina. There’s the bus stop, over there, where I caught the bus this morning. Seems a long time ago now.
Onwards. Soon I see another bridge ahead. It’s a double bridge, and the first part crosses the canal, while the second part crosses the sea loch. I’ve been calling it the “Bellanoch Bridge” in my head, but the map gives it another name. The Islandadd Bridge.
My car is parked on the other side of that bridge, and tomorrow I will start my walk from there. More road walking, I’m afraid, and I hope there won’t be much traffic. It looks encouraging, with just a couple of cyclists crossing the bridge this evening.
I stand beside the canal and take more photographs. The evening sun is bright, the air is clear, and I enjoy the wonderful reflections in the water.
It’s been a funny old day. A hard walk this morning on tarmac, followed by a hot and disappointing trek along a wide forestry track… but this last stretch around Crinan and along the canal has been perfectly wonderful. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?
You can read more about the Crinan Canal here.
Miles walked today = 14.5 miles
Total distance around coast = 3,804 miles