Friday, November 27, 2009

Crinan's pyroligneous past.

As we entered Loch Crinan, the setting sun lit the north shore with a crimson light. The lonely farmhouse of Ardifuir nestles in a bowl in the hills. The agricultural land between it and the sea is a former raised beach.

Further into the loch we passed below the ancient walls of Duntrune castle.

We entered the shade at the head of the loch and, as we paddled through the yachts in Crinan Bay,I thought I caught a whiff of woodsmoke. A tall chimney betrays an interesting facet of sleepy Crinan's past. It was a factory for making pyroligneous acid. The process involved distilling wood and it operated between about 1840 to 1890 until the market for pyroligneous acid evaporated.

It was high tide and we pulled our boats up the little slipway in the heart of the village as darkness gathered round us. It had been a really great day. We had covered 38.5km, albeit with some tidal assistance!


  1. No ancient castles here Douglas, just house foundations of abandoned communities. They're much younger of course but still speak of how time marches on and leaves us to reflect on who did all this work.

    Tony :-)

  2. Hi Tony, much of Canada, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia was populated by displaced crofters during the Highland Clearances of the late 19th century. The whole of Scotland's west and north coasts are littered by abandoned settlements.

    Perhaps we could swap some castles for some ice bergs?