Stephen Hawking and the Crinan Canal

On our recent trip around the coast of Scotland we just had to pause at Crinan where that other Scottish Canal short cut reaches the open sea. Just nine miles long, but with 15 locks, the Crinan Canal goes from Adrishaig to Crinan effectively cutting out the long and possibly difficult passage around the Mull of Kintyre. We know the area quite well since we holidayed near Crinan in the 1980s.

Crinan Sea Lock and Basin

Crinan Lighthouse

Some permanently moored vessels in Crinan Basin

As a short cut for sea-going craft the Crinan sees the passage of a variety of boats, but most of today's users are sailing yachts making travelling to and from the Clyde and the Western Isles. It is a little strange seeing so many yachts passing through canal locks, and even more peculiar driving along a road alongside the canal and seeing a yacht underway on what is a relatively narrow canal. Sleek-hulled yacht are not in their natural element in locks and canals.

Navigating a Crinan Canal Lock

So where does Professor Stephen Hawking come in? We stayed at the historic Crinan Hotel which occupies and prime spot on the headland with a magnificent outlook over the sea lock and the basin and with glorious views out to sea towards Jura and Mull.

Crinan Hotel

This hotel has a room where Stephen Hawking and his family spent several holidays. The room is 27 which has good views over the canal basin and over the sea. Unlike many similar hotels in Scotland it has a lift (elevator) which I presume must have been very helpful. I have no idea when exactly the Hawkings stayed in Crinan but the hotel owner indicated that it was when their children were young.

Room 27 at Crinan Hotel

The hotel has great sea food which doesn't have far to get to the plate since it is supplied from boats that come into the basin right next to the hotel.

Fishing Boat arriving at Crinan with scallops.

Typical non-mechanised Crinan Lock

The locks at Crinan are fully mechanised but those on the rest of the canal follow the standard manual pattern with balance beams. We stopped off along the canal and helped a yacht through a couple of locks. They have an interesting addition - a spike which helps keep the gates shut. There are some canals in England that could do with such additions! 

Spike to keep lock gates shut

Maggie lending a hand

Thanks from the crew

Dunardy Bridge, Crinan Canal

There are six swing bridges along the canal. We stopped and looked at the one at Dunardy before continuing south. The Crinan Canal is worth a visit and we can recommend the Mull of Kintyre as a destination.