A remarkable place
Crinan is a fascinating place, with its peaceful quay at the mouth of the Crinan Canal and a lovely bay and harbour around the headland, overlooking Eilean da Mheinn.
Head for Crinan Harbour to find the start of a steep trail up through Atlantic oakwoods to Castle Dounie, a stone fort on a high rocky knoll. There are panoramic views over the Crinan basin and the Sound of Jura along the way, and on a clear day you even spot distant Ben Nevis.
Watch the tide
The Crinan Trail begins by following a path along the shore from Crinan Harbour. Please be aware that this path may flood during high tides.
Take a break
You’ll find refreshments and public toilets on the quay at Crinan village, at the end of the canal.
Climb steeply through ash, birch and conifers to the ruined medieval lookout of Castle Dounie. The crag is a stunning pulpit overlooking the Sound of Jura and the Inner Hebrides.
Long steep slopes for 600m, including several sets of rough steps. Uneven gravel surface with narrow, grassy and rough rocky sections. Some parts may be muddy.
4 miles / 6.5 km Allow 2½ hours
Mountain biking trails
As well as the magnificent views from Crinan Harbour and the trail on the hill above, this is a great place to watch for wildlife. The Atlantic oakwoods around Crinan – remnants of oakwoods that once stretched along the whole Atlantic seaboard from Norway to the south of Spain – are host to a huge number of species, including visiting songbirds like redstarts and flycatchers, as well as red squirrels, red and roe deer and butterflies.
As you climb higher through planted conifers, look out for buzzards and perhaps even golden eagles circling overhead. There’s also a chance of spotting porpoise and Minke whales out at sea.
The remains of this Iron Age dun (hill fort) stand on a rocky crag high above Crinan. Little is known about the fort, but it must have been an important vantage point – you can see for miles in every direction (which makes it a great place for taking dramatic and far-reaching photographs).
An ancient coastal kingdom
Knapdale and Crinan are part of the ancient kingdom of Dalriada, the birthplace of the Scottish nation. It was centred on Dunadd, a rocky crag just north of Lochgilphead, where its kings were crowned. Explore the area to find remains of thousands of years of human occupation, including some remarkable prehistoric rock art. There are fine rock carvings at Achnabreac, and Kilmartin House Museum is a great place to find out more about this area’s remarkable history.
How to get here
Crinan stands at the end of the B841, north west of Lochgilphead. Head for Crinan Harbour to find the start of the Crinan Trail.
Follow the A816 north out of Lochgilphead then, after about 2½ miles (4km), take the B841 towards Crinan. Stay on the B841 for about 4½ miles (7km) then turn left at the top of the hill above the village, following signs to Crinan Harbour. You’ll find a public car park on the waterfront at grid reference NR 783 941.
PA31 8SS is the nearest postcode.
There are regular buses between Lochgilphead and Tayvallich, which stop at Crinan. Find details at Traveline Scotland.
The 9 miles (14.5km) of the Crinan Canal links Loch Fyne with the Sound of Jura, and is known as Britain’s most beautiful shortcut. Stroll or cycle the towpath or simply sit back and enjoy watching boats pass along this picturesque waterway. At Dunardry you can explore a forest on the craggy slopes above the canal.
Barnluasgan is the ideal place to start exploring Knapdale. Find out about its remarkable wildlife and look out for beavers as you explore. At Gleann a Gealbhan you’ll find a short trail through the woods to the evocative ruins of Arichonan village.
Our leaflet guide to the forests of Mid Argyll & Kintyre will help you explore more wonderful woodlands.
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