Kayaking & Canoeing on the Crinan Canal

If big foamin’ breakers give you the shakers then the Crinan Canal is, as the song goes, for you. ‘Oh! The Crinan Canal for me, I don't like the wild raging sea.’ It was good for puffers – the cargo ships that once steamed up and down the canal – and now it’s good for kayaks too. This nine-mile stretch of sheltered water, known as 'Britain's most beautiful shortcut', is a paddlers’ paradise. Here are eight reasons why you need to try canoeing or kayaking on the Crinan Canal this year!

1. A journey along the canal is a journey through time.

The Crinan Canal is an incredible piece of engineering steeped in history. Opening in 1801, it provided a transport route between the West Coast and the industrial heartland of Scotland linking Ardrishaig on Loch Fyne to Crinan. As you paddle past harbours, locks and bridges you’ll be treated to glimpses of the canal’s past.

2. Enjoy the peace & quiet

Kayaking novices will love the calm, protected waters of the canal. Take advantage of the long uninterrupted stretches between locks 4 and 5 and locks 13 and 14.

3. Experienced Kayak Adventure

More experienced paddlers can join the Argyll Sea Kayak Trail at Crinan or Ardrishaig for an epic sea kayaking adventure along Argyll’s beautiful coastline.

4. Discover the Canal's Wildlife

The canal is a haven for wildlife. Keep an eye out for herons and otters in and around the canal and dolphins as the canal enters the Sound of Jura at Crinan. You might even be lucky enough to see Osprey.

5. Visit Europe’s rarest and most threatened wildlife habitats

You’ll pass Moine Mhor (the great Moss), a lowland raised bog and one of Europe’s rarest and most threatened wildlife habitats. This rugged and beautiful landscape is home to dragonflies, hen harriers, curlews and other moorland and wetland species. The best views are from the canal near Bellanoch.

6. Enjoy a picknick

The canal’s grassy banks are perfect for picnicking on a summer’s day. Pick a spot near a canal lock, pull up your kayak and watch the boats navigate the locks.

7. Head on one of the surrounding walks

If you fancy stretching your legs, there’s a magical network of paths, towpaths and shoreline to explore. The Castle Dounie Circuit climbs high through the forest above the sea at Crinan to give stunning views of Jura, Scarba and the Argyll coastline.

8. Immerse yourself in ancient forests

Ancient forests and fascinating historic sites are found not far from the towpath. Don’t miss Dunadd, the hill fort that was a stronghold of Dalriada, the kingdom of the Scotti. It’s believed to have been the site where the ancient Kings of Scotland were crowned. Follow in the foosteps of St Columba to the summit and admire the panoramic views.

So pack your paddles, set your Sat Nav for Crinan and sing along: ‘From Ardrishaig to Crinan's the best trip A'hve bin in, The Crinan Canal for me!’

The Crinan Canal isn’t just for boats. Walkers, cyclists and joggers all enjoy the journey along the towpath.

Stay in Crinan & Kilmartin

Close to Crinan and Kilmarting Glen, you'll find a 'home away from home' Ederline Estate, a working hill farm covering around 13’000 acres of stunning scenery. Achnashelloch Holiday Cottages & Farm Shop is another fantastic spot close by. Located in an ancient and secluded settlement dating back to 1479, the Stable Cottage sits on the edge of Loch Fyne and is the perfect cosy, romantic getaway.

On a budget? Conveniently located between Mid-Argyll and Kintyre, Argyll Backpackers is an amazing purpose-built hostel with stunning views across Loch Fyne. 

Ederline Estate is a stunning accommodation in the Heart of Argyll.

Find out more about exploring the Crinan Canal and read about things to see and do in Inveraray, Knapdale & Kilmartin Glen.