Oban, Scotland – The Quaintest Haven
I’ve been told on so many occasions of the beauty of Scotland. However, I only grasped the magnitude of this statement on the 3 hour trip from Glasgow airport to Oban, and or the next 4 weeks I was utterly blessed (even in the rain and overcast weather) to see the true beauty of Scotland; the green rolling hills, expansive lakes and of course the intriguing castles.
Oban – An t-Òban in Gaelic – means The Little Bay, a resort town within the Argyll and Bute council area in the North West of Scotland. Focused primarily of tourism Oban thrives for the summer months during the influx of visitors and then almost hibernates during the long winters.
It is a beautiful town still boasting its historical architecture in most of the buildings. By its name, it sits alongside a bay and is the main gateway to other smaller town via a ferry, i.e., Isle of Mull.
The main road runs alongside the bay and hosts shops and restaurants catered to the tourist’s needs, and you will be sure to find someone (usually a student from school) playing the bagpipes in the main square – be sure to tip them, please!
Restaurants to consider when visiting Oban are;
The Corryvrecken, especially for breakfast – I tried the haggis but sorry Scotland I couldn’t eat it; definitely an acquired taste.
Gelatos Burgers – they have unusual combinations and are very tasty.
The Chocolate Company – the best chocolate and waffles I have ever tasted.
The Pokey Hat – divine ice-cream, an absolute must regardless of the weather.
For museum enthusiasts, there is a small war museum consisting mostly of photos, uniforms, and artifacts. As small as it is, it is still worth the visit.
There is a popular beach in Oban called Ganavan beach. It is large, and even if it is not a sunny day there will be people relaxing at its shores.
I was fortunate to be in Oban in August when the highland games took place. The pipers gather in the town square and then march to where the games are held, and everyone follows behind. It’s quite a moment to treasure.
Best places to visit Oban;
McCaig’s Tower – is situated on the highest point of Oban, on Battery Hill and was built in 1897 by John Stuart McCaig as a lasting monument to his family. From the tower, you are spoiled with breathtaking views of the town.
Dunollie Castle – is a small ruined castle with only one room (more like a cornered space) to see within the walls but it does provide spectacular views of Oban and the surrounding Isles. There are volunteer actors that reenact the life and people that would have lived at the castle. They gladly converse with tourists and are extremely informative. 1745 house museum will give you a fabulous insight as to how the staff of the castle lived.
There is so much more to see and experience in all directions from Oban. I will mention just a few; otherwise, this blog will be miles long.
Dunstaffnage Castle and chapel – dating back to the 13th century this castle is well maintained giving the visitor a good reflection of what life was like during its occupation. Absolutely worth the visit.
Doune Castle – Monty Phyton and the Holy grail was filmed on location here, and if you’re a Game of Thrones fan this is the where the Battle of Winterfell, season 8 took place.
Callander – another historical town between Oban and Stirling.
Rob Roy’s grave – Rob Roy is a legend, much like William Wallace, for his efforts for the rights of the Scottish people.
Stirling Castle –is undoubtedly one of the must-see castles. Standing majestically on the top of Castle Hill in Stirling it is one of the largest castles and also one of the most important both for its history and architecture. Unfortunately, on the only day, I was able to visit Stirling the rain was so bad it was not worth spending the money to enter; I will on my next visit, it is a beautiful city.
St Conan’s Kirk – Even though it is undergoing renovation, it is still spectacular. Situated on a lake with a view of such splendor that when you are there you feel its peace and tranquility; a definite must-see.
Inveraray Castle – Possibly my favorite of all the castles I visited. The 13th Duke and his family still live in the castle, privately set apart from the tourist section. The 2012 Downton Abbey Christmas Special was filmed here and in the Tea Room, next to the original kitchen, are portraits of the Downton Abbey cast. The gardens are unbelievably exquisite. The Inveraray town compliments the castle with a Jail Museum, and Bell Tower. The Vital Spark ship, named after the ship in Neil Munro’s Para Handy stories, was one of Scotland’s last working puffer ships.
After spending 4 glorious weeks in Oban, I took the 5 AM ScotRail train to Glasgow. I recommend this to everyone; the view through the Scottish countryside is nothing short of magnificent. It’s a very comfortable 3-hour journey.
I had an hour to spare in the center of Glasgow, St George’s Square. My love for old architecture exploded with one building after the other, pouring out its history. It’s a beautiful city and next time I want to spend more time exploring here.
Scotland is magical and mysterious; I am forever grateful and blessed to have had the opportunity to visit this amazing country.