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Boats and Bad Weather in Oban…

Despite the wet forecast, I had promised myself that Oban would be next on my to-do list and I headed off early leaving bright Strathblane sunshine behind.

The first stop was the world famous Rest and be Thankful where I bought a cup of tea from the snack van. Not overly lured by the eggs being fried in the bacon and black pudding fat, I settled for the more appetising option of some stale fruity oatcakes I had in Harvey RV… I think I offended the proprietor by asking for chips at 9.30am. I’m a grown up, I can ask for these things although I did sulk when he told me the fryers weren’t on yet…

After reading the sign with the history of the area, I glanced at the mist covered mountains knowing one was The Cobbler I had climbed a few weeks earlier. I didn’t know which one it was but was thankful not to be climbing that day.

A coach turned up in the distance and out spilled tiny 2 legged, excitable creatures, the most confident striding up front with the Saltire. They were on a mission to wave the Scottish flag with a backdrop of a misty mountain. They all took a turn. I wondered what hashtags they’d be using that night and how many Facebook profile pictures would be changed in memory of that coach tour

I took a wrong turn (as I have the habit of doing recently) and took the more picturesque B828 which has clearly been laid by council workers tipsy on midgie repellent. The single lane ribboned narrow and wide with passing places galore taking me through the Argyll Forest. Oh shit. A junction. I had made the decision to follow an actual paper map that day and left the sat-nav at home. Lets just say I take notice of maps even less than I do of a sat-nav. I took the B839 towards Inveraray. That road was quite an experience in itself but note to self, find the A83 at home time…

Stopping every mile or so to allow traffic to overtake with drivers so close waving a middle finger of appreciation… These stops also allowed me time to discover that the water to the left was Loch Fyne. Yay! Loch Fyne Oyster Bar. Pit stop priorities… Nice loos

Turning right then left I nearly took out 3 cyclists who were drinking tea on the road! On the actual tarmac right at the corner. I threw my best glare face but 3 flashes of glistening lycra catching the sunlight and I was distracted… Inveraray came and went and I followed the A819 up Loch Awe passing the very beautiful Kinchrackine Castle floating graciously above the surface, shrouded in dewy petticoats. You can access it further around the coast but it looked quite a marshy walk. Will dig out my wellys and return again. Here it is here.


The A85 brought normality back and I continued North West through the Pass of Brander / River Awe. Reminiscent of Wast Water in the Lake District which took my breath away last year. Pulling over, I found a virtually vertical path and upset the quietness of 3 young fishermen. I apologised and told them to look away as the chances were I would fall. They kept looking but the show never came. They seemed disappointed.


Passed Cruachan Power Station: “I’ll visit that on the way back” (didn’t)

Continuing through the stunning bridge at Connel. A quick leg stretch, next stop: Oban.

A bright yellow Hotel was the first thing that hit me. No convenient place to stop and my eyes were distorted and sparkly for a while. I thought it was a migraine coming on but no, just an immaculate yellow hotel in view. I can’t even remember the name of it but the building itself was memorable!

As usual, a tour of the area is a must before parking up and an ideal spot was found at the harbour. Not even a pay and display like everywhere else in the area. Result. Fish and chips will be consumed there later after my mammoth hill climb…

Unusually, I visited Tourist Information where a lovely girl advised me how to get up to McCaigs Tower. I did upset things by asking her opinion on the best fish and chip in town. After a quick fumble in the ‘what advice can I give to tourists’ leaflet, she awkwardly told me that she couldn’t give her personal opinion on that. Let me re-phrase. What F&C shops do others tell you are good? “They are mostly the same…” So like I choose wine, I opted for a shop later that day with a nice colour scheme and quirky font…


A climb up to appropriately nick-named Obans Crown, I entered the quite spectacular McCaigs Tower. Again, I’d seen this on Facebooks ‘Show me Scotland’ site so it was already in my little purple things-to-do book. What I have also discovered is that rain is quite a good thing. It keeps people away and you get to see and do things by yourself. Although the road is quite steep, it’s a short journey from the water and you can drive there if you wish.


A wee keek through the windows to spot Caledonian MacBrayne Ferry on his jaunts…


What else is there to do, let me consult my map. Hmmm… a wander around the harbour, mediocre Fish and chips then head back taking in all the things I’d missed on the way there. What I have come to find is that I’m far preferring the journey to the destination. I’m always disappointed by the destination as I expect too much. No doubt Oban has far more to offer: seal spotting boat trips, cinema, distillery, rare breeds farm park and many, many restaurants. I may return for a spot of seal spotting…


I drove to Dunollie Castle, parked and walked the opposite path finding out about cave dwellers and this big dog stone. As myth would have it, Fingals dog was tied there and the heavy chain he wore, ground the rock away. It’s a sea stack formed by the lava flow from (probably) Beinn Mhor carrying all the bits of rock and stone in its flow. It would have once formed an arch between the cliffs behind me (where the cave dwellers lived)


Back to the van then carrying on down that road to the end was a wee beach with immaculate new car park. No overnight parking? We’ll see about that next time I visit… Although the new houses nearby may report an intruder disobeying the council rule book. A wet wander; both under foot and from the sky, back to the van and onwards to Dunstaffnage Castle. If you take a trip here, prepare to feel lost as the signs take you through building site and small ‘industrial estate’. Avoid eye contact with office/shop looking for £5.50 (unless you want to go in the castle. I will. One day) and i wander the grounds outwith the walls.


I stumble upon a little rocky sanctuary and wish it was sunny. No, take that back. If it was sunny it would be busy! I take in the view of either Loch Linnhe or Firth or Lorn depending on which way you look. Here, I found my highlight of the day. Nothingness. It’s the most nothing I have ever seen in my life apart from closing my eyes. See…


This wee boat came putt-putting closer and closer making me smile. It was the only company I needed all day. I thought this lone waterproofed stranger may have caught his attention but it didn’t. Perhaps he was thinking the same thing…


The midgies insisted I leave and I apologised for killing 4 with one swift slap

Homeward bound, full of Fish ‘n’ Chips i arrived home to a glass of Prosecco and pondered my next outing…

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