Oban

Oban

As all Scots will tell you, October can be a hit or a miss weather wise in Scotland and on this trip is was almost miss!

My plan was to spend 4 days in Oban during which I hoped to take in a couple of walks while at the same time do a bit of island hopping and some sight seeing. However the weather thought otherwise, the forecast was for wind and heavy rains and even the tail end of a hurricane.


The first of my walks was on the Isle of Luing. I had planned to do this walk the day after arriving in Oban but as it was fairly decent weather and the bad forecast I did the walk before checking into my lodgings.

Clachan Bridge

In order to get the ferry to the Isle of Luing you have to make your way to Cuan on the Isle of Seil and to get to the Isle of Seil you have to use the Clachan Bridge or as it is also known, the bridge over the Atlantic. Although it looks a normal old humped-back bridge the drive over it is anything but normal. Once you get to the middle of the bridge the angle of ascent is so great that you can’t see the other side of the bridge and if a road user is coming in the opposite direction you pray they see you as you can’t see them.

Once over the bridge its mostly single track all the way to Cuan and to the ferry.

This was the smallest ferry I had ever been on but little did I know the ferry to Kerrera is even smaller, but more about that later. Once on Luing, after crossing the 200m Cuan Sound, is was a very easy and relaxed walk along the shoreline to the bay at Port Mary then on to Cullipool.

Old Slate Quarry.

Up until the mid sixties the main industry on the island was slate quarrying but these days the locals rely on tourism, fishing and farming for their incoming. Most of the 200 people who live on the island stay in the two main villages of Cullipool and Toberonochy.

Cullipool

My walk would take me to Cullipool but not to the smaller village of Toberonochy which lay further south.

The streets of the village are just how you’d imagine them to be, narrow roads with rows of small white painted cottages. Many of these cottages were built to house the slate quarry workers.

Due to the large number of vulnerable residents all of the facilities on the island were closed. This included the Atlantic Islands Centre which is a cafe come exhibition space, come community centre and public toilets. This didn’t hinder me in the slightest and all in all this was a lovely, if short, walk around a lovely little island.

Kerrera

Kerrera lies just off the mainland close to Oban and for many visitors to Oban it looks like it is part of the town.

Kerrera as viewed from McCaig’s Tower

To catch the ferry to the island you only have to go just over a mile south from Oban. As mentioned above this ferry is even smaller than the ferry to Luing, see below. This ferry can take 1 car or 12 foot passengers and on my visit there we 14 people and 3 dogs waiting so at least 2 people and maybe some pets were going to be disappointed!

Kerrera Ferry

I was passenger number 5 so was onboard early and when the number reached 12 the ticket collect said to the young couple in numbers 13 and 14, ‘I’m sorry we can only take 12 passengers but don’t worry you won’t have to wait another hour we’ll come straight back over for you’.

Again this walk wasn’t a long one, just over 6 miles, and would take in the magnificent Glyen Castle, photo below, which was fortunate as the weather forecast was for heavy rain and high winds so it was head down and to try and get the walk done before the rain came.

Kerrera was at one time a communications hub.

I’ve never been one to do a walk just to tick the box saying done it. I have always felt it is something that you do because you enjoy it, you enjoy being outdoors and you admire the views. However due to the immanent bad weather I decided I would have to be quick.

Wreck on the beach at Horseshoe Bay

Unlike the Isle of Luing there is no large settlements on Kerrera. The population of the island is 68 so it’s more like 2 or 3 houses here and there. There is a farm shop and a tea garden but like Luing these facilities are closed due to the Covid 19 pandemic.

The road to the castle also takes you passed the farm shop and tea garden and I found the unusual method of signposting visitors to the tea garden witty.

Another usual visitor ‘attraction’ is the green toilet which sits in a field not far from the castle also happens to be painted green.

As I approached the castle I could see down the Sound of Kerrera that rain was on it’s way. So it was a short stop at the castle before moving on.

The rain came and lasted only 10 minutes or so but along with the rain came a strong wind which made it difficult at times.

On the far side of the island are some nice views of near neighbour, Mull and further afield the Isles of Coll and Tiree.
As the weather was closing in I decided to get the head down yet again and get the box ticked so I could get off the island before the worse weather arrived.
Heading back towards the ferry jetty I could see that the ferry was waiting and passengers were aboard. I really thought I was going to miss this sailing and would have to wait another hour for the next sailing however I got there just in time, in more than one way.

The photo above was taken from the ferry just before we set off. Like most small west coast ferries there are no passenger lounges or facilities but the ticket collector assured me he get me over to the mainland before the rain came and he was true to his word. Just as I stepped off the ferry the downpour started and I made a dash to the comfort of my car parked just a few yards away.

All in all I enjoyed my trip to Oban even though the weather wasn’t favourable. I have visited the town a few times and really like going back there. I like climbing the stairs from the harbour up to McCaig’s Tower, which sits atop of Battery Hill, and taking in the view.
The tower is also known as McCaig’s Folly and was designed by local banker John McCaig. His idea was that it would be built using local stonemasons thus giving them work and it would house a museum and art gallery and with a central tower. However McCaig died before the work was completed and his death brought about the end of the building. No art gallery, no museum and no central tower.

The entrance to McCaig’s Tower.

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