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Crinan Canal closing on Friday 23rd October until 1st April 2021

yotter

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3 Aug 2007
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Me Inverkip, boat Kip in winter, Craobh in summer
We exited Ardrishaig last Saturday, and after speaking with the canal (customer facing) staff, thought that the date was towards the end of September for closing, but I see October is on the website. Locks 1 to 8 are being worked on, so a good start:)
Angus
 

Quandary

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20 Mar 2008
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7,296
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Argyll
Update
The Canal is closed this weekend, open Monday, then as every week this year closed again Tues. and Wed.
It will be closed completely from the last week in October when it will be drained from Cairnbaan southward (or eastward if you prefer?)
The scope of the lock replacement planned for this winter has been reduced and now seems to include only Locks 1-4, so it may take them 3-4 winters to complete the job. I presume the Cairnbaan flight will be done winter 21-22 but will they still have the money then? The Dunardry flight is in worse shape.
Perhaps preferable to being ambitious and not getting back open until mid summer, of course with the virus really taking hold and now reaching the extremities of Argll it might be closed for several years.
Last time it was drained there was one fatality( may have involved intoxication) but the mud either side of a small central stream can be more dangerous than deep water.
 

JumbleDuck

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The Dunardry flight is in worse shape.
I'm reading an OK but patchy history of the canal (by Marian Pallister) at the moment and it seems that the Dunardry flight has been in bad shape since the beginning. Partly a wartime shortage of pozzelano so they couldn't make good waterproof cement and partly good old-fashioned fraud with foundations omitted to save money. Dunardry was furthest from oversight and got the shoddiest job.
 

Quandary

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The Canal was built from Ardrishaig to Crinan, The first reaches are wider and the locks are built in squared and dressed stone imported (from Arran I think) with an impressive curved inverted arched bottom, but like many major engineering projects today the money got tighter as the work progressed, later locks were lined with local rubble and the squaring and dressing deteriorated until lock 14 into Crinan basin has no lining at all. It is just a hole quarried out with minimum facing. You will have noticed, as well as the changes in the stonework, that the channel gets progressively narrower as you go west. The struggle to finance the construction may have been as plausible a reason for the state of it as deliberately shoddy workmanship. The canal failed shortly after it opened when the bank across the flat moss after Lochgilphead gave way and they had to bend the route onto more solid ground, they struggled to fund the repair.
The only major change since, both sea locks were repositioned and substantially enlarged in the first half of the last century, the originals now used for berthing were similar size to all the inland locks.
Incidentally the schedule of the planned works referenced above makes no mention of grouting which has failed in nearly every lock, so badly at number 11 that they have been importing earth to fill the big cavities that appear as the soil is washed awayand the ground around the locks sinks, I presume it is included, would be crazy if it is not. When the the canal was last drained about 12 years ago, a contractor was employed to grout the lock walls, drilling and pumping, I was building a garage and one of the workmen told me there was some left over bags of cement in a skip across the road, when I lifted the cover rather than a couple of bags the skip was full. I tried a bag but the cement for grouting was not really adaptable for building, shame tons of it was dumped but if they do not use it it does not keep.
 
Last edited:

JumbleDuck

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Incidentally the schedule of the planned works referenced above makes no mention of grouting which has failed in nearly every lock, so badly at number 11 that they have been importing earth to fill the big cavities that appear as the soil is washed awayand the ground around the locks sinks ....
That lock had that problem two hundred years ago. It's apparently the very worst built.
 

NormanS

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10 Nov 2008
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7,599
I remember an occasion about 25 years ago, when I happened to be skippering a small workboat, self propelled barge. I was to take it from Faslane to the Forth. On overnight passage from Faslane, I began to think about the passage through the Crinan, and went out with a tape to measure the boat's beam. Exactly 20 feet.
In the morning, at Ardrishaig, when the canal staff appeared, my first question was, "What's the maximum beam for getting through the canal?" Answer - 20 feet. When I explained that that was our beam, the man sucked his teeth, and said, "Hmm, you might be alright, but some of the locks have bulges in the stonework, so you might get jammed, as the level goes down".
What a prospect! In fact we got through without incident, but it was close.
 

bikedaft

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16 Dec 2008
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tayvallich
The Canal was built from Ardrishaig to Crinan, The first reaches are wider and the locks are built in squared and dressed stone imported (from Arran I think) with an impressive curved inverted arched bottom, but like many major engineering projects today the money got tighter as the work progressed, later locks were lined with local rubble and the squaring and dressing deteriorated until lock 14 into Crinan basin has no lining at all. It is just a hole quarried out with minimum facing. You will have noticed, as well as the changes in the stonework, that the channel gets progressively narrower as you go west. The struggle to finance the construction may have been as plausible a reason for the state of it as deliberately shoddy workmanship. The canal failed shortly after it opened when the bank across the flat moss after Lochgilphead gave way and they had to bend the route onto more solid ground, they struggled to fund the repair.
The only major change since, both sea locks were repositioned and substantially enlarged in the first half of the last century, the originals now used for berthing were similar size to all the inland locks.
Incidentally the schedule of the planned works referenced above makes no mention of grouting which has failed in nearly every lock, so badly at number 11 that they have been importing earth to fill the big cavities that appear as the soil is washed awayand the ground around the locks sinks, I presume it is included, would be crazy if it is not. When the the canal was last drained about 12 years ago, a contractor was employed to grout the lock walls, drilling and pumping, I was building a garage and one of the workmen told me there was some left over bags of cement in a skip across the road, when I lifted the cover rather than a couple of bags the skip was full. I tried a bag but the cement for grouting was not really adaptable for building, shame tons of it was dumped but if they do not use it it does not keep.
did the canal not go ito the River Add for a bit, before they got money to blast their way around to Crinan?

i have a book somewhere that mentioned a plan to extend the canal around N shore of L Crinan towards L Awe. seems ambititious nowadays but this was before railways
 

JumbleDuck

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did the canal not go ito the River Add for a bit, before they got money to blast their way around to Crinan?
No, it always went to Crinan. Construction started there and worked back, just as it started at Ardrishaig and worked in.

i have a book somewhere that mentioned a plan to extend the canal around N shore of L Crinan towards L Awe. seems ambititious nowadays but this was before railways
There were originally two suggested routes; the one built and another round the north of Loch Crinan with a sealock near Duntrune, and the choice seems to have been a very close thing. Had it gone north there were plans for another canal north from it to Loch Awe (by two different routes) and I believe there were also tentative mutterings about a canalisation of the River Awe down the pass of Brander to Loch Etive.
 
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