Walk #483: Strone to Crinan
Map of the walk
Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format. For a detailed table of timings for this walk, please see the table file.
After the glories of yesterday this was a most disappointing walk. On the face of it is was a short walk - a trifle under half the distance that I did yesterday - but I am satisfied with it nonetheless. We woke up this morning to the sound of rain hitting the roof of Mervan, and a quick look out of the window confirmed that it was probably going to be a wet day. We packed up Mervan quite late for the short drive from Crinan to Strone to starts the walk. It felt like ages since I had last had all my wet weather gear on, and unfortunately I needed it.
Fortunately the forestry commission have constructed any footpaths and cycle tracks through some of the forests in the area, and these allowed me to keep off the roads for much of the time and created a much better route. If it had been a dry day this would have been a superb walk, but in the rain it was just a long, boring plod. The views were reduced by the rain, and once I had been out in it for a few hour and got soaked I could not be bothered looking at the views and just put my head down and walked.
On the way down to Tayvallich I was passed by a white bus that stopped, and the driver was the lady who had passed me two days ago and given me a pack of Smarties. She expressed amazement at my progress, and when I saw her again in the village she gave me a bag of nuts and raisins, which was much appreciated. She also gave me a fiver donation for the charity, which was indeed an act of kindness that helped warm me up on this wet day. There was a pub in the village that I was exceedingly tempted to nip into for a drink, but I had not really walked far enough at that time for a lunch break, and I knew that I was so wet that once I sat down and took my coat off I would find it difficult to get started again. With hindsight I think that this may have been a mistake, as a rest may have been a good idea.
Tayvallich was a nice little village, even in the rain. The bay was filled with a series of small boats, and the houses seemed quite bright. There is much more to this peninsular further south towards Keilmore, but there was no circular route to walk and so I could have had to walk back the same way, which is against my rules (that is my excuse, and I am sticking to it!).
A little further on at Carsaig I met a couple who were out walking their dog. I chatted to them for a while, and it turns out that theyhad seen me yesterday by Castle Sween and in the hotel in Crinan last night. They were fascinated by what I was doing, and gave me a nice donation. I think that it may have been pity money - apparently I looked fairly bedraggled and unhappy when they saw me! I had not worn the hood of my coat up today and relied on my Tilley hat instead, and the rain was dripping off the rim off this and right onto my front. The Tilley hat is quite good when the rain is coming from in front - I can look down and the rim keeps the rain off my face, a good technique when you have worked it out, and I find it better than using my coat's hood.
The rest of the walk was northwards along forest tracks, and this should have been quite enjoyable but the rain spoiled it. There were signs saying that the cycle track was closed, but I pressed on anyway. I soon came across a couple of BT vans who were trying to fix four lines that the forestry commission had dug up during their work. A short distance further on I found the Forestry Commission diggers and lorries that had been fixing the track. The broad track allowed me to make good progress, and I as sad when I had to leave it for a steep footpath that led down into Crinan. The rocks on the path were fairly slippy after the rain, and I had to take a little care on the descent.
By the time that I reached Mervan in the car park by the sea loch in Crinan I was thoroughly wet and more than a little depressed. I had planned to have my lunch there and go on for a few more miles to make a decent length walk, but there seemed little point in this. I was soaked, and there seemed a if the rain would not ease, and all this made me firm in the decision to end the day's walk early. After an hour the rain eased slightly, and we went for a little walk around the sea lock and chatted to people who were taking their boats through it. Doing this has made me quite intrigued by life at sea, and I wonder if my next adventure will be to sail around Britain? There is also a nice little coffee shop by the loch, and I had a coffee to warm me up. Everyone is very friendly in this area, and we spent ages chatting to people on their boats. I have never really chatted to the boating set before, and they all seemed like thoroughly nice and charming people.
Crinan is the Atlantic end of the Crinan canal, which is eight and a half miles long and leads to Ardrishaig in Loch Gilp. I passed Ardrishaig a couple of weeks ago, and I find it amazing to realise exactly how long it has taken me to walk around the Kintyre peninsular (although I did spend three days on Arran). The canal, designed by Rennie, opened in 1801 and saved the 130-mile sea journey around he peninsular. The fifteen locks take the canal to 59 feet above sea level. I was born in a house near a canal lock on the Trent and Mersey Canal, and the difference in size between the narrow canal and these ship canal locks is vast. In the harbour by the sea lock there is a ship called 'Vital Spark' - named after the tales of Para Handy. The harbour was much busier than it was last night, with boats three abreast in some places - I can only assume that it is busier as it is getting nearer to the weekend.
It looks as though tomorrow is going to be yet another wet day, which is a shame as I was very much looking forward to the first couple of miles along the canal. If it rains then it rains, and after the last few days of glorious weather I have to expect some rain. But it is exceedingly depressing weather, and I can only hope that the weather tomorrow is not as bad as it is forecast to be.
This walk starts off at the little hamlet of Strone, to the north of Achnamara. Head north along the road for a short distance until a forestry track leads off immediately past a cottage on the left at grid reference 781891. Turn left and follow this track southwestwards for a few hundred yards until another track leads off to the right; follow this track northwards for a couple of hundred yards until a footpath marked by a red post leads off to the left. This path heads northwestwards past Loch Coille-Bharr and then becomes another track. When this track ends turn left to head southwestwards and then take the first track off to the right for about fifty yards, and then turn right once again down yet another track. This track is part of the Ardnoe and Faery Isles Cycle Route, and heads northeastwards for a couple of miles until it ends at the B8025 road.
Turn left and follow the B8025 road around a hairpin bend before it finally settles onto a southwesterly route for a couple of miles. It curves to the right around the northern shore of Loch a'Bhealaich before reaching the lovely village of Tayvallich. When a road junction is reached on the right follow it for a mile to Carsaig. Pass the little jetty and continue on along the road as it becomes a track that serves some houses, and eventually it becomes a forestry track. Follow this track northeastwards through the forest for a few miles towards Ardnoe Point. Pass Ardnoe Point and then take a footpath that leads off to the left, leading steeply downhill. This path eventually joins the foreshore for a short distance and ends at Crinan Harbour. Join the road and turn left; when there is a car park on the right enter it and take a footpath at the far end of it, which leads northwards into Crinan. It join a driveway for a few yards before ending at a road, and then turn right to pass a hotel and reach the sea lock in Crinan, where this walk ends.
This makes a total distance of 14.3 miles, with 2297 feet of ascent and 2316 feet of descent.
There was not really anywhere convenient to park where I finished today's walk, so we drove into Crinan and parked at the car park by the sea lock, right beside the 'Vital Spark'.
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And finally, enjoy your walking!
This walk was mentioned in the following routes: