Last island of the day via ferry from Fionnphort at the south of Mull to Isle of Iona. It was separated from Mull by about a mile of water. More thatched cottages overlooking the shores. It was said that Columba set foot in this island at Port a’Churaich, in AD 563, with his followers from Ireland. We have a good weather, with warm sunshine as we strolled along some of the most beautiful coast, ruins, very green grasslands….
A ferry took us to this uninhabited island famous for its basaltic formations, distinctive stepped columns created by massive flow of the lava volcanic eruptions cooled many millions years ago. The entrance of the Fingal’s Cave was a narrow ledge of columns access by one person. The cave was gloomy and damp; which discourage me from stepping inside. For I tremble with fear even when walking around outside the cave as I wary of slipping off from the rocks.
But I enjoyed my walked on the grassy flat top of the island where the view looking out was simply breathtaking. My state of mind has never been so peaceful…
McCaig’s Tower was a replica of the Colosseum of Rome. A banker called John McCaig had it built between 1897 and 1900s as a memorial to his family and to provide employment for the townsmen. It was a steep climb to the top of the hill, but there were a couple of benches where you could sit and get your breath back. It seems that the tower is nearly one hundred years old. This was the first tourist attraction we visited in Oban…or in Scotland!
I know that this might sound crazy....but this was really the first place we visited when arrivng in Oban, to source for information. As we had no idea what to do, where to go, what to see and whatnots… Not forgetting books and postcards shopping… I bought a couple of books about Iona and Mull here.
The "Anne of Etive" operates from its pier just north of Bonawe Furnace outside of the village of Taynuilt at the western end of the Pass of Brander.
As the three-hour cruise heads northeast ever deeper into the mountains, passengers see some of western central Scotland’s highest mountains up close—Ben Cruachan (3,695 feet) and Ben Starav (3,538 feet). Passengers also probably observe herds of deer grazing along the shore, a soaring (or nesting) eagle, and, most improbably, colonies of seals on rocky islets in the loch. These seals somehow worked their way deeply inland from the Atlantic, past the Falls of Lora, and into the Scottish Highlands interior.
90MIN CRUISE 3-HOUR
ADULTS £ 6.00 £11.00
Once the of the original Kingdom of the Scots, it was to here that The Stone of Destiny was brought over from Ireland via Iona. In the mid-ninth century with the Norsemen attacking from the west, the seat of power was moved to Scone, near Perth. The Stone was used at the coronations of subsequent Scottish kings until it was taken by Edward I to Westminster Abbey in 1296. The Stone was returned to Scotland on Saint Andrews' Day, 30 November 1996 and can now be seen in Edinburgh Castle.
Dunstaffnage Castle looks square and impenetrable with round towers. A MacDougall stronghold until 1309, it was seized by Robert the Bruce who then appointed the Campbell clan as its hereditary keepers in the name of the Crown.
Bonne Prince Charlie's heroine, Flora MacDonald, was held prisoner here for a short time in 1746.
In the care of Historic Scotland -
Admission Charge - Adults £3.00
Dunstaffnage Castle consists of parts from many centuries dating back to the 12th. The present gatehouse was added in the 1600's. Unfortunately, they don't tell you that this part of the castle is still in private hands, and your admission charge does not get you into here! So like us you probably have to make do with peering through the windows, They could use a good window cleaner too....
Bonawe Iron Furnace, a relic from an industrial past that produced anything up to 700 tons of iron per year from 1753 to 1876, Strange to find an industrial site seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The answer revolves around the problem of transporting the fuel. Until the widespread use of coke in the late 1700s, iron furnaces depended for fuel on charcoal. And the large scale production of charcoal needed an awful lot of trees. Still worse, transporting the charcoal was a hugely wasteful business.
The approach adopted by the English iron masters who ran the business was to take the iron to the source of the fuel, the iron ore actually coming to this site from Cumbria.
There are still quite a lot of the original buidings to be seen and the site is set in a picturesque setting by Loch Etive.
In the care of Historic Scotland
Admission Charge - Adults £3.50
A short walk south west from the main castle buildings is the chapel, built at the end of the 1200s and extended in 1740. In the ruins, the remains of the paired windows in the chancel show a high standard of workmanship. The eastern extension to the chapel forms the burial aisle to the Campbells of Dunstaffnage, whose monuments are amongst those still standing within the shell of the building.
Joining the settlements of Connel and North Connel, the Connel Bridge lies across the entrance to Loch Etive. Built in 1901, it is the second largest cantilever bridge in Britain, bearing more than a passing resemblence to the Forth Rauil Bridge. It was constructed originally to convey the railway to Ballachulish but the bridge was modified in 1914 to allow use by both rail and road traffic, until the railway branch closed in 1966. Owing to its narrow carriageway, traffic signals operate allowing vehicles to cross the bridge in only one direction at a time.
Oban has a long seafaring heritage, and fishing was once vital, there are still a few working fishing boats to be seen in the harbour, but these days tourism is much more important. Boats can however be hired for fishing trips and charters.
Possibly the best known landmark in Oban is McCaig's Folly, or more correctly McCaig's Tower. The Tower was built by a local banker, unsurprisingly called McCaig, in 1897. The aim was to provide work for local stonemasons and provide a lasting monument to his family. The original intention was to complete it with a large tower placed in the middle, but this, like the intended statues of McCaig's family, never materialised.
The tower is a strenuoos 10 minute walk uphill from the sea front. It is a good place to take photos of the town and the outlying islands.
Oban Distillery is well worth a visit while you are in Oban, especially if the weather is not so good (as it frequently isn't), is the Oban Distillery. Unusual in being located in the heart of such a busy town. There has been a distillery here since 1794. It can readily be identified by its tall chimney and by its location, almost on the waterfront and immediately underneath McCaig's Folly.
Inverary Jail provides a lot of information on Scotland's criminal past. If you stole some bread you were imprisoned for 30 days. If you stole a sheep you were sent to Australia - I would presume you got to take the sheep with you (ewe)
On the 13th. February 1692 on a snowy night the glen rang with fear as the Campbell troops slaughtered the House Of MacDonald. They arrived in the early afternoon & were offered food & shelter. When everyone was asleep they murdered 36 men scattering the rest of the clan who fled in fear into the glen's inhospitable weather. All this was meant to prove the long arm of the law but breached ancient laws on hospitality. This is why The Massacre of Glenco became so well known & provided the Jacobites with much more support. The glen has a quiet romantic feel but always seems strangely quiet as if time has stood still