Thursday 1st June

Flaming it isn’t! Unremitting rain (it is still raining at 21.45 as this is being written) dampens the spirits and saps the energy, but there is no doubt that this is a beautiful canal and despite the general dampness, we would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone as a passage through great scenery.

We disturb a heron who grumpily flies off along the canal as we approach only to get even grumpier as we keep catching up with him.

The bridges are wound open as we approach and only once do we catch one bridge keeper out as he huddles out of the rain in his hut.

The young women from Crinan are clearly concerned by two old blokes doing the locks on their own and they cycle ahead to help us through the flight of 5 locks going up. The locks are certainly deep and the flows push the boat about like matchwood. In the end, we think we get their approval…

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Going down is easier and since we are now thoroughly wet we decide to press on and not stop for lunch. We get into the rhythm of a smoothly oiled machine…John driving Heydays and handling both lines as the boat descends and James scampering around with gates and sluices…and getting wetter on the inside of oilies with sweat.

With one lock finished and gates and sluices shut, John motors gently on and James runs ahead to prepare the next lock. As we near Ardrishaig we make the decision to stay there for tonight rather than locking out to sea immediately. This proves fortuitous as the boats in the loch are certainly bouncing around in the swell…and we manage to stamp on the ignition key and break it off in the lock. (That is three lochs, locks and locks today and we haven’t even got to Irish loughs). Looks like we are here until a replacement arrives on Saturday courtesy of a phone call to the very helpful Crinan Boatyard.

Googling places to eat in Ardrishaig throws up two places which are closed down and one about 2 miles away but with frequent buses. We could of course eat on the boat, but we are wet and lazy. The bus doesn’t appear and we decide to find a taxi until…just round the corner is a great little Café called Rumbling Tum. Even better it has a superbly priced and very tasty bistro menu and has only been open in the evening for the last two weeks. They don’t have a licence but they direct us to the Co-op and we spend a happy evening getting warm, dry and mellow.

As a footnote…locals here are complaining about the year of the ‘super-midge’ due to the mild winter. So much for our plan to come early and leave early…

As a final footnote to a damp 1st of June, we share the basin with Vic2 who as the evening draws on has a merry log stove burning brightly…

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