Is there a finer view in Scotland than that from Crinan over the Sound of Jura? You may be hard pushed to find one. The Crinan Canal is frequently called the most beautiful short cut in Scotland, the short cut being between Loch Fyne at Ardrishaig and the Sound of Jura at Crinan. When opened the canal granted an easier passage for sailors between the Clyde Estuary and the Inner Hebrides, without the need for a long diversion around the Kintyre peninsula.
Work began on the canal in 1794 under the guidance of the civil engineer John Rennie but problems with the design and locks meant it was not completed until 1816 after a major redesign by the great Thomas Telford. By 1854 it was carrying 33,000 passengers, 27,000 sheep and 2,000 cattle annually along its 9-mile length. Today some 3000 boats pass through the 15 manually operated locks every year.
The towpath also provides a fantastic walk or cycle from Ardrishaig to Crinan, through a historic landscape and by the likes of Lochgilphead, Cairnbaan and Bellandoch. Once Crinan is reached this beautiful, tranquil place commands an extraordinary viewpoint over some of the finest scenery of Scotland’s renowned western seaboard.
The northern half of Jura dominates much of the foreground with Scarba, separated from Jura by the infamous Gulf of Corryvreckan, and Luing (part of the famed Slate Islands, more commonly known as ‘the islands that roofed the world) forming what seems to be an impenetrable barrier between the Sound of Jura and the Firth of Lorn. The view culminates with the spectacular sight of the big, brawny mountains of Mull and the Morvern Peninsula with the wonderful profile of both Ben More and Dun da Ghaoithe particularly prominent and a fitting end to what is a truly breathtaking view.