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New booking system for Crinan Canal

Date published: 02 April 2019

Scottish Canals has introduced a new booking system for boaters transiting ‘Britain’s most beautiful shortcut,’ the Crinan Canal.

From this season, vessels planning to travel through the canal will be able to register their trip on the Scottish Canals website, with booked vessels then travelling in convoy through the waterway, assisted by Scottish Canals staff. The once-a-day convoy will leave the Ardrishaig or Crinan sea locks at 08:30am each morning, with vessels asked to arrive at their respective sea locks the evening before, or early in the morning of, their transit.

Vessels with a freshwater draft of more than 2.2 metres are asked to book at least 48 hours in advance of their planned transit; 24 hours for those with a draft of less than 2.2 metres. Experienced private pilots are available to assist single-handed crews seeking to make the nine mile journey through the canal. Full contact details are available on the Scottish Canals website, with all transit arrangements agreed between boaters and pilots.

Experienced crews, or those with the aid of private pilots, will continue to be able to proceed through the canal at their own pace and outwith the agreed convoy times. All vessels, however they are transiting the canal, are required to book their transit.

Donna Mallan, Operations Manager on the Crinan Canal, said: “We’re always looking for ways to improve the experience for the thousands of boaters who travel through ‘Britain’s most beautiful shortcut’ each year and this new system will make it easier than ever to book a transit through the Crinan Canal.

“We know from our boaters’ feedback that most people want to get through the canal in one day to explore the wonders of the West Coast – or to make their way home. These changes will allow us the best chance to make that happen – weather-permitting, of course!

“The new system also offers a great opportunity for social sailing, with boaters travelling in convoy through the entirety of the waterway, sharing stories, lock chambers, and a few laughs. We look forward to welcoming the world to the Crinan this season.”

As part of the new system, boaters transiting the Crinan Canal will also receive 15% off at the Steamer Terminal – a new café and restaurant perched on the iconic timber pier of Ardrishaig serving up the best of the Mid-Argyll larder. Those looking to take advantage of the discount should show their transit licence at time of purchase.

From 22nd April, the Crinan Canal will be open seven days-a-week from 08:30am to 5:30pm. Full details of the new booking system can be found at https://www.scottishcanals.co.uk/activities/boating/crinan-canal/register-your-transit/. Scottish Canals plan to review users’ feedback on the new system at the end of the season.

Meandering through the ancient coastal kingdom known as ‘Dalriada' in the Heart of Argyll, the nine-mile-long Crinan Canal links Ardrishaig at the Firth of Clyde with the picturesque village of Crinan and the world-class sailing of the west coast. Once a thriving freight artery, the 200-year-old waterway may be home to yachts and barges rather than Clyde Puffers nowadays but it remains a vital link for boaters looking to avoid the long journey around the Mull of Kintyre. Around 1,600 vessels travel through the canal each year.

As well as scenic sailing, boaters taking to the Crinan can enjoy the chance to see some incredible wildlife. From deer and red squirrels in the surrounding pine forests, to ospreys that soar through the skies above the waterway and dolphins frolicking in Crinan Bay, the area is home to some beautiful animals – including the pine marten, one of Scotland’s rarest mammals.