Oban is a beautiful little pocket on the West Coast of Scotland, perched on the shores of the Firth of Lorn. Jo Morgan tells you how to make the most of your visit.
Translated from its Gaelic tongue to mean ‘small bay’, Oban is an idyllic horseshoe bay sheltered from Atlantic storms by the isle of Kerrera. Also known as the ‘Gateway to the Isles’, this is the largest port in North West Scotland and the base from which to catch ferries to the Inner Hebridean islands of Mull, Iona, Staffa, Barra, Coll, Colonssay and Tiree. From the moment you arrive it’s easy to understand why this town has been a popular tourist destination since Victorian times. And as the seafood capital of Scotland, Oban’s inhabitants have enjoyed plentiful seafood from these waters for centuries. So if something smells fishy, it’s probably just the fish. Here’s our guide to the top spots...
You simply can’t visit Oban without sampling some of the freshest seafood you are ever likely to taste. The options are endless although The Midgie loves the fish market on the pier where you can buy seafood literally straight off the boats. For the flash-packers among you Ee-usk restaurant (Gaelic for er... fish) is a must, with a waterfront location and mouth watering menu - although it may burn a small hole in your wallet.
Ee-Usk Restuarant, North Pier, Oban, 01631 565 666, www.eeusk.com
Take a wander along the seafront past the cathedral and you will soon find yourself below the ruins of the impressive Dunollie Castle. There is thought to have been a castle on this spot since the seventh century although today’s ruins are of the MacDougall clan’s stronghold, which they inhabited until 1746. The ruins are accessible by a short steep path. It’s a bit of a hike, but from the top you are met with an absoultely stunning view of the beautiful surrounding islands.
For a spot of easy island-hopping follow the coastline round, past the main ferry terminal on the Gallanach Road and you will discover a small ferry that will take you over the firth to the Isle of Kerrera. This tiny island has about 35 inhabitants and is home to a fantastic bunkhouse and tearoom. Once you’ve sampled the cake selection and admired Gylen Castle you can stroll leisurely back to the ferry. Ginger beer anyone?
Kererra Bukhouse, Lower Gylen, Isle of Kerrera, 01631 570 223, www.kerrerabunkhouse.co.uk
There’s no better way to end your day than to enjoy a malt whisky distilled in the Oban Distillery, while watching the sun set from McCaig’s Tower. Pure magic. To get there, look up the hill behind the town, locate the tower and start walking - there are several routes that all lead to the spectacular view. Beware, though, because at night this is a popular spot for fornicating teenagers!
Oban Distillery, 01631 572 011, www.discoveringdistilleries.com