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May 2014

Argyll and Bute Coat of Arms

Things are fairly functional along Chalmers Street or the  A83 if you'd rather.

Pull over and park up for fine views out over Loch Fyne[1], not shown, and a Co-op™ behind you except no one's here to pick up no provisions.

No, it's heard there's a time-saving device here that's on a par with the pressure cooker but it'll need a bit more water in it, innit, and it'll hypnotise for about the same amount of time that particular type of pot will have your pig's cheeks nicely done.

[1] Technically Loch Gilp and makes for more of a bay, really.

  Knapdale Scottish Beaver Trial

While you're round this way, head north-west into Knapdale to spot some of the recently reintroduced beaver population. They divide opinion locally and, like most other living animals, are likely to be seen at dawn or dusk.

For this pair, however, that first one doesn't sit too well and the big-toothed rodents aren't expected to be seen anytime soon.

The road heads south to the Mull of Kintyre and yes,  that one. You may be forced to wait on your way down to McCartney country since the road can lift and it lifts over what looks suspiciously like a canal. Aah! That'll be the Crinan Canal?

Linking Loch Fyne to the North Atlantic to the west, the canal shaves 80 miles off a voyage down and around the 'Mull'.

Opened in 1801, it's less than 10 miles long and came to be the preferred route provider for the  Clyde puffer, sturdy little steamboats making delivery drops from Glasgow to the outlying isles.

It's largely used by pleasure seekers, these days, although comments persist of it being prohibitively expensive. Oh well, if you want to see Campbeltown up close in a gale force 8, best of luck with that 'skipper'.

  Crinan

Ten miles along the towpath to Crinan itself might be ambitious although a narrow B road will get you and your vehicle there. It's a similar setup, canal-wise, but the views to the Isle of Jura probably pip this for prettiness.

A shorter option on foot is along the flat to Cairnbaan and back that may include lunch with a nip of  said liquid.

Fifteen locks in total and seven bridges, which mostly swing, but one of them is 'retractable' so it simultaneously is known and not known what that really means.

Four of those locks are here and this the last before the sea. They're not the originals but they're still old enough for former Labour Party leader  John Smith to have swung on as a lad.

It's a slow process, though, and they're backing up a bit today since they're all manually operated, you see.

As spectator sports go,  gongoozling will hold your interest for at least an hour especially when that manual operation is by a weather-beaten Scotsman on whom that Customer Service Training Day was wasted.

Barking orders at a terrified English group, he sounded like he's still seething over the Siege of Stirling Castle or something. They were, however, a particular type of English and 'Toby' might well have been fiddling with the spinnaker if you get the drift.

Catching the eye with a wry smile and quite possibly a wink, he might as well have said...

'Ah juist loue daein' that!' and there's a translation provided  here.