For the August bank holiday we decided to return to spend the long weekend in Lochgilphead. We'd used the excellent little campsite there a couple of times before, and it ticks pretty much all of the boxes for an ideal campsite when travelling with Ludo, our Labrador:
- Walking distance into a town or village with services - pubs, takeaways and shops
- Great walking options nearby - the Crinan canal in this case, although the site also does have a dog-walking area
- Not too far a drive, making it easily weekendable
Before motorhome trips we've always brought the van back from its storage site to the house the night before and loaded it up and headed out from there. This time we decided to experiment instead with loading up the car with all the stuff we (and the dog!) needed, leaving the car in the motorhomes storage spot and heading off straight from there. We thought this might save a bit of time and hassle and it turns out it did, so it's going to be our preferred option from now on.
From home in Edinburgh (or from the storage site near Livingston) the satnav tells you that going via Glasgow is the quickest way to Lochgilphead. It's probably right but I prefer to head up to Stirling before turning west towards Loch Lomond before heading into the A83 up and over the "Rest and Be Thankful" before heading through Inveraray and following Loch Fyne until arriving at Lochgilphead. It's a very scenic route on good roads, and is also not usually all that busy. If timing works out there is also an excellent dog and motorhome friendly lunch stop at "The Slanj" in Tarbert (just above Loch Lomond). You can also overnight there in a motorhome - we haven't done that yet although we have stopped for lunch in the past.
After arriving at the site and pitching up (which takes all of 2 minutes in our van i.e. hook up the electric and turn on the gas) we walked into Lochgilphead (the campsite is very close to the centre of the town) to pick up some fish and chips for dinner. There were a few folks around and as I walked Ludo about while Fiona waited in the takeaway a couple of lads having a smoke outside one of the pubs admired the dog (he is gorgeous!) then asked me if I was blind! I suppose Ludo does look like a guide dog and he was wearing a harness and I was using a yellow lead!
Next morning we decided to walk on the roadside path into Ardrishaig (which is very close to Lochgilphead) and onto the little harbour where the Crinan Canal meets the sea loch. Amongst various stuff there we found scale models of the Kelpies which was interesting as we'd overnighted in the motorhome beside the full size ones earlier in the year.
From there we then followed the Crinan Canal back allong to Lochgilphead. On the way we got lucky with the timing and saw a few sailing boats traversing the locks. Ludo was very interested in the activities and Fiona helped out with the opening of one set of the lock gates.
The canal is a great place to walk the dog although on the bit between Ardrishaig and Crinan the towpath is a bit too high above the water for Ludo to get into the canal.
On Sunday the weather was excellent but with a bit of a lazy start to the day we decided to scrap plans to walk all the way to Crinan and back, with is about a 16 mile round trip. Instead we decided to wander along towards Cairnbaan and maybe a bit beyond, depending on how we felt - and also how Ludo was coping with the heat.
How he coped with the heat was buy taking a dip in the canal every few minutes (did I mention he loves the water!) so it took quite a while to cover the 3 miles or so to the Cairnbaan Hotel. On arrival there we decided some heat management was also needed for us, and the pint of cider I had went down very well!
We weren't quite ready for lunch yet so decided to continue along the canal to the swing bridge at Bellanoch and then onto the large pool on the canal just beyond that. On the way we admired some lovely canalside houses (sadly none for sale as I had a look online when we got back!).
Ludo spend a fair bit of time enjoying a swim in the cool water. We also saw a few motorhomes wild camping in the car-park beside the pool and might well give that a go if we're in the area after the campsite closes in November, as it looks a lovely spot.
We then headed our way back, stopping for an excellent outdoor lunch at the Cairnbaan hotel before heading back to the campsite for a nap!
Lochgilphead is a great location with the dog, so I'm expecting we'll be re-visiting regularly - possible as a stop-off on our way to Islay for our planned trip there in September.