Monday, December 11, 2017

Central Oban – The Waterfront

Following our visit to Dunstaffnage Castle in the little town of Dunbeg on the outskirts of Oban, we headed into the big city…

With a population approaching 8,600, Oban is the largest city or town that we visited during our time in Scotland.  When the tourist season is in full swing, Oban can have as many as 25,000 visitors at a time…

This windshield photo isn’t the best but it does show one of the city streets in Oban…far more built up with a bit taller buildings than any of the other towns and villages that we visited. 

One of the things that we enjoyed most about our Scottish adventures was the lack of American style fast food joints, huge shopping malls and omnipresent Wal-Marts, Walgreens and Dollar Generals that litter the landscape in the USA. 

Down in the central part of Oban along the waterfront, another sight that one doesn’t see too often in the USA is an old building like the Columba Hotel with its turrets and multitudinous chimneys.
The Columba Hotel is actually comprised of both the late 1800s gray granite structure at the rear and the ‘new’ 1902 brick Victorian style building.  This hotel features 50 en-suite rooms and the Bar Rio, an Italian themed restaurant.  For more information about this ideally located hotel, go to

We drove around until we could find a parking lot a couple of blocks off the main street along the waterfront.  I had to take a photo of this sign with its multitude of Car Park Rules.   I’m guessing that each of the rules were established to address an actual condition that the Argyll and Bute Council had encountered. 

I feel for the old fellow whose wife is off shopping and he’s napping in his car while waiting for her.  Would he be fined?  I don’t think that I’ve ever seen anyone anywhere washing or repairing their vehicle in a parking lot…except for fixing a flat tire.  As for camping or lighting fires…I just don’t know what to say!

The Oban Congregational Church was founded in 1805.  As you can see, this classical hall style church with a raised basement is reputed to be the oldest church in the city.  At one point, the congregation had shrunk to about 25 aging parishioners and it was in poor condition.  It has since been refurbished and revived with a large congregation as well…

This is the first of several waterfront photos in Oban.  As you can see, guests at the Columba Hotel facing the bay have some terrific views…

This is one of the views across the bay at Oban.  The view is technically across the Sound of Kerrera at the island of the same name.  The island of Kerrera is about 4.7 square miles in size and its current population consists of about 45 residents… My kind of place!   There are more sheep in the photo than there are people on the entire island… 

Looking north along the main street in downtown Oban…

Prior to the late 1700s the population of Oban was minimal.  However, the site where the city now stands has been used by humans since the days of the cave men… Dunollie Castle, which is located on a site overlooking the main entrance to the bay, was built and destroyed in 686, 698 and again in 701.  It was subsequently rebuilt in 714.  However, the existing ruins date from the 1400s. 
Dunollie Castle Museum (Clan MacDougall), grounds and the ruins are open to the public.  To learn more, go to

Another view of Isle Kerrera across the harbor from Oban… Kerrera is part of the Inner Hebrides.  The highest point on the island is 620 feet above sea level. 

This seagull decided to allow me to take a photo… Seagulls are the most prolific mooches ever!

Caledonian MacBrayne operates 8 ferry routes from Oban to both the Inner and Outer Hebrides.  Any day in peak season, travelers have up to 20 opportunities to take a ferry from Oban to far-away places!  Trips take from 40 minutes or so up to 5 hours and 30 minutes if you decide to take the ferry to Lochboisdale on South Uist in the Outer Hebrides. 

The ferry in the photo is the ‘MV Isle of Lewis’.  She is 333 feet long and can carry 123 cars and 680 passengers.  Her usual route is from Oban to Castlebay on Isle Barra and it takes about 5 hours for the trip…

With Isle Kerrera in the foreground, I believe that the mountains in the distance are on the Isle of Mull.  Laurie’s family has roots on Mull…and a ‘family castle’…Castle Moy as well.  To learn about Castle Moy, go to  So little time…so much to see! 

I love this view of an imposing old home on Isle Kerrera.  I took the picture using my built in 10x lens and it came out pretty well.

Believe it or not, there isn’t a ferry from Oban to Kerrera… You need to drive a bit south of Oban along the Gallanach road to the ferry crossing.  The ‘Gylen Lady’ is one of the smallest ferry’s I’ve ever seen.  The crossing is only about a quarter mile across.  For current information about this route, go to


·         Plan on hiking or biking if you go to Kerrera.  Except for residents of the island, cars are banned.  It’s reputed to be a great place for a hike and there is a teahouse/bunkhouse on the island.  See TripAdvisor at for more information about this island. 

The small boat that’s almost high and dry at low tide in this photo reminded me to check and see what tour boats might operate out of Oban’s Harbor.  It turns out that there are 7 different tour operators in town.  Check them out at  

I saw those boats moored off the end of the old railroad wharf and assumed that they were both fishing boats.  Wrong!  The ‘Havgull Whalsay’ (blue stern) is a Shetland Islands cargo boat…actually a salmon farm vessel that hauls bags of salmon feed to the sea pens in the Shetlands.  The boat with the red top is another ferry boat.  It is the ‘Loch Striven’, a 117 foot long drive-through ferry that services some of the smaller and shorter Caledonian MacBrayne routes out of Oban. 

The city of Oban really grew up around the Oban Distillery.  It was founded here in 1794, really before the town was established.   This distillery only has 2 pot stills…making it one of the smallest in Scotland.

At roughly 223 years old, the Oban Distillery is a ‘baby’ compared to Bowmore Distillery in the Isle of Islay.  That operation began in 1779.  At least 2 other Scottish distilleries date back to the late 1700s… 

This visitor’s center was built in the distillery in 1989.  We looked but we didn’t buy…

The Oban Distillery is owned by 'Diageo'…a multinational British alcoholic beverages company.  Diageo was the world’s largest distiller until it was dethroned by China’s Kweichow Moutai in April of 2017.  Diageo’s brands include Smirnoff, Johnny Walker, Baileys and Guinness.  I had no idea!!  

For more information about the Oban Distillery, the visitor's center and tours, go to

The Oban Inn was one of our dining options for lunch.  I liked it because it was established in 1790, making it even older than me!  While I usually can find some information on an old building, especially a commercial one, I came up empty for the Oban Inn… That’s Laurie, Bonnie and Bill walking by the Inn.

What is this big round wall on the bluff!?  A colosseum?  Nope!  Work on this relatively new structure began in 1897.  The builder was local banker John McCaig. 

It’s called McCaig’s Tower and its purpose was twofold.  First was to provide work for local stonemasons and secondly to provide a lasting monument to the McCaig family.  It was never finished as the benefactor died in 1902.  We didn’t get up there but it contains gardens inside the wall and the views across Oban Bay are supposed to be spectacular. 

One last view of the main street of Oban along the waterfront looking south… What a beautiful day!


·         In World War II Oban was used by Merchant and Royal Navy ships and it was an important base in the Battle of the Atlantic.  Two Royal Air Force flying boat bases were located nearby…one on Isle Kerrera.  An airfield was also built in the area.  During the Cold War Oban was important because the first Transatlantic Telephone Cable came ashore nearby.  It carried the Hot Line between Presidents of the USA and the USSR.

That’s all for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

1 comment:

  1. The town looks like a fine place to visit. I had never heard of Diageo either and like you am surprised at their brands.