05 Jan Crinan Canal, Argyll, Strathclyde
Cutting through the long tongue on the west coast which comprises Knapdale and Kintyre, the Crinan Canal links the Sound of Jura with Loch Fyne. It enabled ships to reach the Western Isles considerably sooner, and with less threat from the weather, than before: the old sea voyage of 130 miles was reduced to 8, and fishermen were especially grateful. However, even such foresight as its engineer and sponsors possessed was unable to prophesy the coming of steam, which effectively rendered the Crinan Canal obsolete.
Today it may take as many as 80 yachts a day in summer. It was designed by John Rennie and built between 1793 and 1801, using stone quarried on the Island of Arran. There are 15 locks and the canal rises 60ft above sea level at its highest point, which is just north of where we are, looking south-east to Loch Gilp.
The Crinan Canal is a hidden gem that is worth a visit on your tours of Scotland.