A few miles south of Oban is the so called "Atlantic Bridge". This bridge crosses over to the island of Seil and the stretch of water it spans is considered, certainly by the locals!, to be part of the Atlantic Ocean and therefore its claimed this is the only bridge that "spans the Atlantic"!
The village of Kilmartin itself has some interesting features. Kilmartin church is known for its carved medieval Christian crosses and gravestones and what may be the earliest carved figure of Christ in the UK.
The village is also home to the Museum of Ancient Culture. Unfortunately I didn't have time to go there but I'm sure it would have given me a much better understanding of the significance and history of the various cairns and standing stones in the local area. There is also a good view over the valley to the south where you can see one or two of the cairns in the distance.
This area begins about 30 miles south of Oban and streches down nearly to Lochgiplhead. Its has one of the highest concentrations of ancient sites in Scotland including standing stones, prehistoric burial chambers and the Iron Age fort of Dunadd.
This is the first place you come to when driving south into Kilmartin Glen. I almost missed the turn off as there was just a very small sign [so be vigilent!]. There is a car park beside the road and then you have to walk up the hill for about 5 mins to reach the castle. Its not too steep though.
The castle, a 16 Century fortified house, is now under the care of Historic Scotland but entry is free. Although its ruined to some extent you can still climb right up to the top for a great view over the valley.
There are 3 cairns in the Nether Largie area - this south one, the mid one and the north. They are within walking distance of each other but I just visited the south cairn [nearest to the car park] because I was a little pushed for time. These three cairns are in a linear form along with another cairn, Ri Cruin, a little to the south. This is believed to be in some way significant.
The south cairn is believed to be around 5000 years old and is a large chambered tomb with a stone slab roof.
Entry to the site is free and there are boards that give a small explanation of the history.
There is another cairn and further standing stones even further south, at Dunchraigaig. there are more photos from this area on my Scotland page]
This is the Isle of Mull which we had to take a ship to get here, so it is off the beaten waterways....this lovely dog followed the train all the way to the castle. I could see the castle in the distance. It was a great place filled with awesome natural beauty.
Near Oban is a rare-breeds farm you absolutely have to see if you like animals. Just rustle a bit with your brown paper bag of food that you bought in the shop, and you'll have hundreds of new best friends. The sheep are hilarious and will follow you around like dogs. There's also cattle there, donkeys and llamas.
Have a look at my travelogue to meet the funniest sheep ever.
Loch Etive is one of the most unique sea lochs in the UK. It is approx. 20 miles from the head of the loch to Connel Bridge, where it joins the Firth of Lorn forming the spectacular Falls of Lora, the only two-way tidal falls in Europe. Due to the two sets of narrows, at Bonawe and Connel, the loch has an extraordinary tidal system, which gives a two hour difference between high water at Connel and Bonawe, a distance of only 5 miles. This also has an effect on the salt content in the water - the surface layer of the water at the head of the loch can be almost fresh. The loch is over 400ft deep in places.
About 8kms East of Oban, starts by Connel Bridge.
This is a 30 acre farm park situated a couple of miles outside of Oban up in the hills. They have all kinds of animals there including deer, sheep, goats etc most of which are rare breeds and very cute! There is a pet corner where kids (and adults alike!) can feed and pet the tamer animals.
Its a previous winner of the Scottish tourist boards "Tourism Oscar"
This is a picture of Loch Awe taken descending from Ben Cruachan, around 25 miles drive east of Oban.
Ben Cruachan is a Munro (mountain over 3000 ft) and a popular hillwalking area. There is also a hydro-electric power station (with visitor centre) underneath it. Loch Awe is a large inland loch east and south-east of Oban. Most people will see it from the north shore, along the Pass of Brander, but the long arm of it stretches southwards, and is very off the beaten path.
This picture was taken on the electricity board access road to Cruachan Dam. I presume the sheep normally build up speed on the long downhill stretch, though why the limit is 24 mph is puzzling. Possibly this is the speed at which sheep go out of control, losing their footing and rolling unstoppably downwards in a blur of wool and baaing.
As if that wasn't hazard enough,watch out also for the falling rocks. I suppose they may be dislodged by the hammering of hooves as a herd of ovines thunders past.
This picture is looking towards the point where the two arms of Loch Awe diverge. To reach Trevine on the peninsula from the north shore opposite would take a few minutes by boat, or around 25 miles by road.
There is a hotel, the Ardanaiseig Hotel, almost at the tip of the peninsula/
Below is a link to a multimap page of this area:
The West Coast of Scotland is a veritable diver's paradise. Many non-divers, or warm water divers ask 'Why would you want to dive there?!' - but once experienced, you will never be able to get enough.
Offering some of the clearest waters in Britain and with thousands of dive sites to choose from including sea-lochs, wrecks, tidal races and whirlpools - the marine wildlife is abundant. We have some of the most incredibly rich and biologically diverse seas in the world containing an estimated 8,000 species.
Based in Oban, Puffin Dive Centre is a 5 star PADI Career Development Centre who offer everything from Try-Dives through to experienced instructor courses. Completing my PADI Open Water qualification through them, I found them to offer high quality tuition, and to be extremely flexible. Although the Open Water course normally takes 4 days - I actually took 6 days to complete it and was not charged any extra! I was also able to complete the course over the period of 3 weekends. All off the staff I met were extremely helpful, and had a great deal of patience!
To the south west of the Nether Largie cairns is the perfectly formed Temple Wood Stone circle. There are actually 2 stone circles which were excavated as recently as the 1970s. They are belived to have been the main centre for burial from Neolithic times up to the Bronze Age.
Furthest south of the sites located around Kilmartin Glen is the iron age fort of Dunadd. Although there is little to be seen of the actual fort except for some of the outer walls which kind of blend in with the rocky hillside, there are a footprint and bowl carved in the rock near the top that are believed to have been used in ancient ceremonies to crown the kings of Dalriada. There are also inscriptions in the ancient Irish language of Ogham.
Dunadd was the capital of the Pictish kingdom of Dalriada and the seat of power from around 500 AD. Its believed this is where the kings were crowned [including King Aidan by St Columba] until the PIcts were defeated and the capital was moved to Scone in Perthshire.