Even the dire architecture and roof top excrescences of the several times rebuilt Crinan Hotel cannot detract from the charm of the canal basin, but beware midges under the trees. As ever 'Pevsner' gets it bang on: 'A unique intimate place of green grass, white walls and black lock gates'. There always seems to be something going on at Crinan and you can join in with the main occupation which is to watch the boats making a cock up of getting in and out of the locks, or better being hurled around the sea lock as the water is allowed in. This is a great place to lounge, have an ice cream, and generally hang out. The small cafe in the early 19th century old post office is nice but pricey. If you really want to spend money then dine at the Crinan Hotel. It's good food alright but maybe not so good to stop you feeling uncomfortable as a scruffy yachtie (01546 830261). In February 2011 they reopened their seafood bar but I have not yet been there. The lounge bar is just a lounge bar and lacks character, but the public bar next door is small and cosy (and operates a strict under 18 get lost rule). The hotel - and indeed the cafe - is very keen on hanging and encouraging original art, not surprising as Frances MacDonald, a well known Scottish painter, is the wife of Nick Ryan who runs the place with her. She has also made something of a secret garden behind the hotel, and it is now open to the public.
I have never had to call on the services of the Crinan boatyard, or their chandlery, but they are I believe very good, and they have visitor moorings if you can't be bothered to anchor (ph 01546 830232).
For the modestly energetic, a walk along the canal towpath is a pleasure at any time of the year from primroses in the spring to the colours of autumn (the canal is of course a treat all of its own for getting between the Clyde and West Coast). If you walk along the towpath from the Crinan basin to the first bridge, cross over and turn left you soon come to a waymarked track up the hill to the right (this is not marked on the OS map). It is a charming walk constructed by the Woodland Trust who own the land here. They are restoring the broadleaf woods of Scotland (and the rest of the UK too). The walk takes you back to the canal basin in an hour or so, allowing for dawdling along the way, sitting on rustic benches to admire the view and all of that. Or do the walk the other way round, from the canal basin.
Another walk is from Crinan Harbour, where the road ends, towards Ardnoe Point where in 1km you should find the gravestone of a 19th century skipper who died of cholera. After 200 yards, do not take the main path up the hill but the narrow, boggy, rough and generally rubbish and poorly marked path through the woods along the shore line. The stone is very hidden in the undergrowth and in truth I have not been able to find it! I rather hoped I would somehow trip over it amongst all the tree roots, in the same way as Rat and Mole found Badger's House in the Wild Wood (Wind in the Willows). Possibly best to anchor in the bay if you can, rather than walk from the canal basin because there is too much road that way. And do what I didn't - take an OS map and a picture of the stone in your mind, and look for the ash tree if it hasn't been destroyed by the dreaded dieback fungal disease that was first spotted in the UK in 2012.