I can’t believe I didn’t put in the photo of Ben Nevis at Fort William last time! It’s a very rare chance to see pretty much the whole of the mountain! Usually there is a cloud cover over the top, but on the way home from Skye, this was the view of it. Our highest mountain here in the UK, at 4406 feet, yes feet, I really don’t do metres,but it must be in the region of about 1500+ metres, a mere pimple for some of you folk out there, I know! Looks like a volcano from here, and apparently that’s what it was millions of years ago. The cone collapsed, and centuries of erosion created Coire Leis!
Moving round to the left you get the views of Coire Leis (Corrie Laysh) where rock climbers tackle the cliffs and routes of the North Face of the Ben. Ben comes from the Gaelic word for a mountain.
So, the next adventure took Linda and me northwards once more but to Oban this time, again on the west coast but a bit south of Fort William. We were making use of a Groupon voucher, enabling us to spend two nights B&B at the Caledonian Hotel for quite a reduced rate. When we arrived we found our room was overlooking the road at the back of the hotel, and sadly not overlooking the harbour, but never mind.
After settling in, we explored the town a little – we both know it well from childhood visits with our respective families – that big roofless building up on the hill is McCaig’s Folly, commissioned by John McCaig to be a memorial to his family. It was never finished after his death in 1902. The Oban distillery is plumb in the middle of the town, originally built in 1792, but rebuilt in the 19th century, and is one of the smallest distilleries of single malt whisky. It has had several periods of inactivity but is working again now, with tours available to visitors. When I used to visit Oban with friends many years ago we used to frequent a great wee cafe, The Cosy Neuk, sadly long gone, at the far end of the street to the left of the distillery.
Later in the evening, Linda and I had our tea in the restaurant on the right of the photo, the red and black building – good Scots fare- but before that we took a drive up Pulpit Hill for its good views of the area. It was probably up here in centuries past that dissenting congregations met to hold their services. Looking down on the harbour and the town behind, the two piers, the North Pier and the Railway Pier can clearly be seen, the Mull ferry at its berth – above the foreground house and the trees. I remember when boats for the islands left the smaller North Pier. Not any longer! MacBrayne’s was the transport company in those days, leading to the parody on a psalm “The earth belongs unto the Lord, and all that it contains – except the west of Scotland, and it is all MacBrayne’s.” Now it’s Caledonian MacBrayne’s, CalMac, and it still seems to hold the monopoly.
Next we headed round the bay, through the town and out to the left of the town photo above, to the beach at Ganavan (GANna van) where we each played on the sand as youngsters! Perhaps not surprisingly, Oban has stretched out as far as here now, with a rather splendid looking, brand new housing estate just above the beach. We sat in the car and watched the sunset, before driving back along to the town to continue watching the colours of the sky over the island of Kerrera (KERR erra).
The monument from 1883 commemorates David Hutcheson “by whose energy and enterprise the benefits of greatly improved STEAM COMMUNICATION were conferred on the West Highlands and Islands of Scotland”.
So would the next day live up to the expectations set by the fabulous sunset? Tell you next time!
Talk again soon.