Crinan Basin, The Crinan Canal, Argyll, Scotland
On a sunny day the village of Crinan and the Canal locks and basin can look very idyllic, positively Mediterranean. But its existence is down to Industrial ingenuity and commercial need.
Crinan is located on Loch Crinan in the Sound of Jura on Scotland’s Argyll coast. In 1794 work started to build, or rather dig, a canal route to link Crinan with Lochgilphead on Lochs Gil and Fyne. It was a mammoth task, given both the terrain and the Scottish climate, a real engineering achievement with construction being completed in 1801.
The commercial ingenuity was to create a link between the Industrial and Commercial Centre around Glasgow on the River Clyde, with the hard-to-reach Northwest Coast of Scotland and its many Islands. Fishing vessels and inland cargo ships had previously to make a long and hazardous journey to reach these ‘wild’ and ‘remote’ places.
Crinan Canal was a short cut across a narrow part of the Kintyre Peninsula it also avoided the often wild and dangerous Mull of Kintyre. The Canal is only 9 miles long, but those 9 miles provided great economic benefit and seafaring safety sense.
Initially it was sailing vessels that made use of the Canal, fishing craft could get their catch back to the population heart land so much quicker. Later with the innovation of steam power, the ‘Clyde Puffer’ was created., built to a size and draft to negotiate Canal and Island harbours. Soon a fleet of Puffers carrying essential goods of every description were a familiar sight on the Clyde, Canal and Coast… the FedXe of the era.
Those days are now long gone. New roads and railways made travel to these extremities much easier and linked more of the mainland to and from the coast.
Today it is still used by Fishing vessels, but mainly social sailors in todays sleek yachts… Sea Locks allow easy access to and from the tidal waters.
Whilst the harbour of Crinan, the Canal and Lochgilphead are also on the Tourist Trail, the Crinan Canal is still considered an important ‘short cut’ for sailors…. and it is also a mark of early engineering skill and the hard labour of many.
As always, today and everyday….
Please Remember ….
Stay Safe …. Be Kind…. Look After Each Other
(C) David Oakes 2023