Along the Crinan Canal

Look all around, there’s nothing but blue skies.
Look straight ahead, there’s nothing but blue skies.

I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash

We were up at our usual 7.30 this morning and out onto the deck of the Glen Tarsan, where we breathed in the clear, fresh morning sea air.  The loch was calm and the sky had one or two patches of blue among the white fluffy clouds.  An old seadog once said that if you could see enough blue in the sky to make a pair of sailor’s bell-bottoms, then it was going to be a fine day. 😊

From our vantage point of the Glen Tarsan we took in our immediate surroundings. We were right next to the Crinan Boatyard and Chandlery, and there were many colourful vessels on the slipway and one large red boat in the stocks.  Ropes and fenders and lobster pots were piled at the side of the ramps, all the signs of how massive the part the sea plays in the lives of the villagers.

After another wonderful substantial breakfast, Skipper Dave advised we could go ashore whenever we liked, as the Glen Tarsan would not be departing until after lunch.  We didn’t need the liberty boat to go ashore this time, but as the tide was in and the vessel was high in the water, a makeshift gangplank was fashioned out of upturned crates and a wooden pallet, which allowed us, with the helping hands of Max the bo’sun and Steve the engineer, to step onto terra firma.

It was great not to have to wear our waterproofs, or to need a hat, and I even felt a little overdressed in my Craghoppers puffa jacket.  What a difference a bit of sunshine could make!  😊  We walked along to the locks at the start of the Crinan Canal, and decided to go and explore one of those tantalising little paths we’d noticed the other day. It was lovely strolling along in the sunshine looking at the boats moored up on the canal, including Vic 32 ClydePuffer, which is a steamboat.  We decided to stroll along the canal bank which was simply gorgeous;  with the sea loch and sandy shore on our left, small boats bobbing and clinking in the bright sunshine, and the canal on our right, with its picture-perfect little cottages and houses, it was utterly idyllic.  What it must be like to live here, and have these views every day…

At some point we arrived at an interesting-looking bridge across the canal, and on closer examination we discovered it was a swing footbridge, that pivoted open to allow yachts and other craft through. A chocolate-box white cottage was next to the bridge, and we stood and contemplated it for a while, before continuing on our way. After we’d done a couple of miles, we decided to go back and, on our return journey, we saw the engineer opening the bridge.  We stopped and watched, along with a couple of cyclists who had intended to cross the bridge but would now have to wait.  A few minutes later a yacht with a tall mast, carrying half a dozen or so smiling happy people, glided through and continued on their merry way. What made us laugh was that, without the usual “ship’s whistle”, a guy at the front was blowing heartily on a kazoo to announce their arrival.  😊

We were back on board the Glen Tarsan in time for a pre-luncheon beer, which we enjoyed sitting outside the saloon on the aft deck. Lunch consisted of an exquisite slow-cooked tomato and garlic soup, accompanied by fresh crusty bread, and followed by a large, home-made sausage roll served with a crisp, green salad.  We washed it down with some wine and finished with coffee, after which we felt an afternoon power-nap was in order.  😊

Around 2.00pm we were woken by the rumble of Glen Tarsan’s engines, as she prepared to depart once more.  We went up on deck to see the sailaway, and marvelled at how calm and flat the water of the sea loch was.  Looking over the side into the water, we spotted loads of jellyfish, their semi-transparent bodies flexing and rippling as they floated past us.  We were so happy that the weather had turned in our favour, and it was a gorgeous, peaceful, sunny afternoon we passed, in our pleasant ride across the loch to our next destination, Tayvallich.

We really enjoyed the journey.  The sea was calm and the motion of the Glen Tarsan was hardly discernible. We passed the time looking at our gorgeous, rugged surroundings, looking through binoculars if we spotted any birds or wildlife (such as deer) in the hills.

Around 6.00pm the metallic rattling of the anchor chain signalled where we would be spending the evening, in a natural bay off Tayvallich (don’t you just love the Scottish names?).  The evening was pleasant and mellow, exactly as an evening in May should be, and which was long, long overdue.

We got ourselves washed and smartened up a little bit for dinner.  After seeing the jellyfish earlier, I decided my Irregular Choice trainers were appropriate, one featuring a detachable beaded/sequinned crab, and the other featuring a pair of jellyfish.  They certainly elicited a lot of comments from the other passengers.  😊

That’s It trainers by Irregular Choice, featuring detachable jellyfish and a crab!

Dinner was another wonderful affair, to be savoured and lingered over.  For the main course we enjoyed fantastic home-made hot smoked salmon fishcakes served with a chilli mayo, sugar-snap peas, grilled baby plum tomatoes and sauteed potatoes; as ever, a culinary work of art.

The surprise tonight was that we all received a glass of prosecco, and a beautifully-decorated cake was brought in for our dessert – it turned out it was Cheryl’s birthday, so we all raised a toast, sang the traditional song, and enjoyed a piece of cake.  What a fantastic place to be spending a birthday!  😊

We didn’t see the sunset tonight, because the sun had already dipped below the mountains, but our compensation was a full moon that cast a silver path on the flat-calm surface of the sea loch. On the other side of the boat, an indigo sky, tinged with the last traces of gold, silhouetted the landscape and was mirrored perfectly in the water. And so the sky darkened as night fell, and we sat around talking, laughing and enjoying the inevitable fine single malt whisky before bed.  Another wonderful day had come to an end and, once again, we slept very well.

2 thoughts on “Along the Crinan Canal

  1. Gail

    I am really enjoying your blog – particularly as we are joining the MV Glen Etive TOMORROW and I am so excited! We are staying tonight near Dumfries, to break the journey after a very long drive up from Sussex. Your lovely, lively writing and beautiful photos are just delightful and now I literally can’t wait 🤣. Thank you and hope you enjoy the rest of your trip 😀

    1. Hi Gail, thank you for your kind words – we are back home now and I will write up Day 6 as soon as I can. You are really in for a treat on the Glen Etive; we saw her sitting with her sisters in Oban as we disembarked. Anchors aweigh and have a wonderful cruise – I know you will.

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