October is holiday time, and this year we (that’s me and Brian) decided to see – you guessed it – a bit more of Scotland, but this time with a difference.
We toured the Outer Hebrides.
For those who don’t know, this is the outer chain of islands, also known as the Western Isles, off the west coast of Scotland, sitting out in splendid isolation in the Atlantic Ocean.
It wasn’t until I saw how long the initial ferry trip would take that I realised just how far out – a 5 and a half hour sail.
We were due to sail from Oban to Barra on the 1330 ferry, so we drive most of the way the day before, stopping at a charming set of rustic cabins overnight, just north of Loch Lomond.
With this beautiful view…
And this cute rug inside!
Next morning, after a full Scottish breakfast, we set off for Oban, arriving with plenty of time, so got coffee and wandered the town.
I was just a touch nervous about the ferry crossing, as Hurricane Ophelia was due to hit land sometime in the next 24 hours, but what I hadn’t expected when we arrived at the ferry terminal was to be told we had an 8 hour delay already!
Now 8 hours is quite a lot of time to kill, so we went for a long drive around the locality, finding this lovely waterfall that drains into Loch Awe.
Then we did a little more exploring of the town. Last year we visited Oban in passing, and I’d been intrigued by the coliseum-like construction high up on the hill, overlooking the town, so I decided it was time to investigate more closely.
Fortunately when we got up there, there was an information board to tell us all about it. Called McCaig’s Tower, this folly is built on Battery Hill, the former location of the heavy guns of the 3rd Argyllshire Artillery Volunteers. Originally these guns guarded the harbour below and would have been impossible to sneak past – take a look at this video taken from the vantage point
It was constructed between 1896 and 1900 as a project to provide employment for out of work stone masons. Recently, although you can still get the impression of where the guns stood, the interior of the full circle has been attractively landscaped
Walking back down the hill, I snapped a couple of pics of the Scottish architecture I so love
Every house should have it’s own castle gateposts…
It appears these holiday-makers didn’t pay their hotel bill… 😉
Fortunately, we did!
To our relief, the ferry duly arrived
although with a 2100 sailing time, sadly it was dark, so we saw none of the sights we’d hoped to see – the coastline of the island of Mull, or any of the cetaceans that frequent the stretch of water known as The Minch.
Hurricane Ophelia duly arrive during the crossing, making for a rather bouncy arrival into Castlebay on the island of Barra, at the southern end of the island chain. We were amongst several couples on the ferry staying at the Castlebay Hotel, which is unmanned out of hours, and our 2am arrival definitely qualified!
We had, however, prewarned them, so our keys and directions to our rooms were all waiting in envelopes at reception. Very glad to have finally arrived, we went to bed to the sound of rising wind and rain outside.
Join me next time for our exploration of this unique piece of Scotland.