Tarbert To Lochgilphead And Crinan
ROUTE LENGTH: 97 MILES
Leave Tarbert on the A83 southwestwards. Turn right at the head of West Loch Tarbert, and then left on to the B8024. Follow this round through Dunmore and Kilberry. Turn left at Achahoish to reach St Columba’s cave. Return to the B8024 and continue to the A83 at Inverneill. From Lochgilphead take the A816 to Cairnbaan, branching left there on to the B841 for Crinan. Detours can be made to Castle Sween and through Tayvallich to Keills chapel.
Cyclists can follow the same route as described for cars. This route is NCN78, which in places offers an alternative to the main road.
There is an old drove road (The Knapdale Drove Road http://heritagepaths.co.uk/pathdetails.php?HPath=HP133 from Kilmichael of Inverlussa to Daill on the Crinan canal, from where the canal can be followed to Crinan.
Walkers can also follow the Crinan canal from Ardrishaig to Crinan.
By Public Transport
West Coast Motors http://www.westcoastmotors.co.uk/ operate a bus service from Inverliever – Kilberry, going through Ford, Kilmartin, Kilmichael Glassary, Lochgilphead, Ardrishaig and Achahoish.
There is a bus service between Lochgilphead and Crinan.
To check times go to Traveline Scotland and click on Plan your Journey on left side of page.
From Tarbert the route north, by the west side, follows a loop round wooded Knapdale, looking onto Loch Tarbert and then the Sound of Jura. There are good views of Gigha, Islay and Jura from this coast road. Swinging north to Kilberry you reach the centre of scenic Knapdale with Kilberry Castle and St Brendan’s Chapel, housing their fine collection of medieval carvings.
Continuing north you reach Achahoish, where the present parish church of South Knapdale is sited. However west of the village, near Lochhead farm, there an old burial enclosure and above it Caisteal Tor, where the Dun or fortress of King Conall of Dalriada was located. He was Columba’s cousin and tradition has it that Columba came here seeking Conall’s help. So the exile was directed towards Iona. In commemoration of this, further round the loch, is St Columba’s Cave screened by an attendant ruined chapel. The cave is undoubtedly an ancient place of sanctity testifying to the Columba tradition, and pilgrim offerings are left on the altar shelf.
Though walkers may continue on this route to the Point of Knap, road vehicles must return east across Knapdale to Inverneil, and then come west again via Lochgilphead. Back on the west side, two long points reach south on the respective shores of Loch Sween. On the east you arrive at the forbidding Highland fortress of Castle Sween and the church of Kilmory Knap with its carved crosses. On the west lies Tayvallich and then Keills Chapel with another set of outstanding carvings in its shelter. But both routes, though rewarding, are time consuming, because the only way back is to retrace your steps. An easier option is to go straight on to the attractive canal village of Crinan. It was all much simpler for Columba in his boat, slipping in and out of these sea lochs!
May He who brought us
From the restfulness of night
To the joyous light of day,
Be bringing us also
From the new dawn of day
To the guiding light of eternity
From darkness to eternal light.