Crinan Hotel, Crinan, Argyll

Your view out across the water is interrupted by a rather mean looking whirlpool in the middle of the sea – the Corryvreckan no less. We’ve been through it a couple of times with friends though usually at slack water (when it’s at its most benign). Today we get the chance of a boat trip out and round, as it were, at ten am or two pm. We, that is all six friends gathered at this remote outpost, go for ten. It eats less into the available light/drinking time. When in Scotland, as it were, there are several whiskies to be sampled and we’re only here three days. Well, three nights.

It’s nearly the end of the year and we’re here to celebrate Hogmanay in true Scottish fashion. A fact finding tour, you might add, as we seek shelter from Brexit in a friendly land that still believes we should be part of Europe. Even the motorway signs are geared up – one on the A82 west of Glasgow encouraging us to “drive on the left”. Presumably in the new Brexit Britain (or just England)  you’ll be able to drive on whichever side you fancy and the “bloody foreigners will just have to get out of the way”.

Here at Crinan they bill it as a three day house party. Dressing up, proper dinners and ‘dancing and reeling’ ‘till the early hours as we “see in the bells” and wait for the reviving haggis, neaps and tatties at 3am. It’s all done very well and the chaps have made the effort too, dinner jackets and tartan bow ties no less. The food is simply wonderful – fresh, local seafood and venison…

Jumbo prawns (langoustines) are landed 20 metres from the hotel kitchen at 17.00 hours in time for dinner.

The boat trip on Venture West, a very safe and sturdy boat, is anticipated. Despite being around freezing the sky is blue, the wind gentle and the wildlife up and ready to perform for us. We approach Jura, spot the house where George Orwell wrote ‘1984’ (pub quiz tip – written in 1948) and revel in seeing red deer stags, black goats, sea eagles and seals. Coupled with the otter and golden eagle today, we’ve spotted Scotland’s “big five”. And you get a wee dram of Jura’s “The Sound” whiskey to keep you going (other varieties are available).

It’s really quite splendid here. Fabulous really. Yes the hotel could probably do with £10m spending on its infrastructure (i.e. hot water, Wi-fi) but that wouldn’t be the point. It brings five (or six or seven) star location, food and, above all friendliness. And you could always pop over to Islay or Jura, but that’s another story.

The Crinan Hotel

…not Venture West, but the view from the Hotel

Venture West…

On board Venture West…

The Corryverckan’s standing wave…

Along the Crinan canal…

Ditto…

The little church Keill’s Chapel at Tayvallich

Keill’s Chapel…

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