Crinan Canal: Why you should walk along Britains 'Most Beautiful Shortcut'

There are so many things that make walking the Crinan Canal towpath a fantastic experience, from the opportunity to spot wildlife to the fabulous eateries along the way. Another big plus is the lack of any joint-taxing ascents or descents! The Crinan Canal rises from sea level to just 65m over its entire length, meaning that even for those whose hill-walking days are behind – or perhaps ahead – of them, the walk is very do-able. This is relaxed canal-side walking at its best among some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery.

The Crinan Canal

At nine miles (14km) long, many would be able to complete the walk in a day, cyclists could easily do it as a round trip in a similar period and for kayakers it makes a great day’s paddling. It’s possible to tackle short sections of the way individually. Crinan to Bellanoch is 3.1km, Dunardry to Cairnbaan is 1.7km and Oakfield to Ardrishaig is 3.2km. You’ll find places to refuel and refresh along the way at Crinan, Cairnbaan, Lochgilphead and Ardrishaig.

Whichever way you tackle this journey, you’ll have opportunities to learn about both the canal’s history and the fascinating landscape it passes through.

Popular Detour: Kilmory Beach

There are plenty of detours and side trips you could take from the canal. The surrounding area is rich in history, from the cup-and ring-marked rocks of prehistory to remnants of the early part of the industrial revolution. It’s also bursting with natural wonders, from ancient forests to remote beaches.

One detour that will delight any lover of wild and remote coastal spots, is the one that takes you to Kilmory Beach on the east side of Loch Sween.One detour that will delight any lover of wild and remote coastal spots, is the one that takes you to Kilmory Beach on the east side of Loch Sween.

It’s about half an hour's drive from the canal to Kilmory. At this sandy bay you can stroll along the beautiful beach, swim in the clear (but bracing!) waters of the Sound of Jura and enjoy views over to Jura itself. With its white sands and those views across to the iconic Paps of Jura, this is one of Argyll’s special beaches. It’s also a great place to spot otters.

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 InverarayKnapdale & Kilmartin Glen.