Staffa and Iona - Excursion
One of the boat trips from Oban takes in the small islands of Staffa (unusual basalt rock formation) and Iona ("Cradle of Christianity") with views en route of the beautiful east coast of Mull. This trip is one of the most popular island tours and is highly recommended.
Kerrera Gylen Castle
Kinlochlaich House Gardens
Kinlochlaich Gardens, situated about halfway between Oban and Fort William, are worth a visit for their primulas and rhododendrons.
Castle Stalker (25mi/40km north of Oban) occupies a romantic setting on a small island in Loch Linnhe. Begun in the 14th C as the home of the Stewarts of Appin, it was used by James IV as a hunting lodge. Denis R. Stewart Allward started work on restoring the castle in 1960.
Bonawe Iron Furnace
A coal-fired ironworks that was in service between 1753 and 1876 has been faithfully restored with particular emphasis on the furnace and adjoining buildings. A few years before it closed the foundry made cannonballs that were used in the Battle of Trafalgar.
The A85 runs along the south bank of Loch Etive. The northern tip of the lake, only accessible from the road by boat, marks the start of the remote Glen Etive, where the magnificent golden eagle whose wing span can reach 8ft/2.5m may sometimes be seen. The narrow road through the valley joins the A82 near Kingshouse with Glencoe to the left.
Ardchattan Priory Gardens
A priory founded c 1230 by Vauliscaulian monks from the Burgundian Val des Choux is situated on the north bank of Loch Etive. Apart from the remains of the transept, Cromwell's troops left little else of the buildings; however, the adjoining garden contains over 200 varieties of shrubs, including some fine bush roses.
Taynuilt - Inverawe Smokehouse
Pickling and smoking are among the oldest ways of preserving food. The owners of the Inverawe Smokehouse use a secret recipe handed down from generation to generation. The fish is first pickled in brine (sometimes with herbs and sugar) and then smoked slowly over oak.
Glen Nant Forest Nature Reserve
To the southeast of Taynuilt (B845) a splendid nature trail has been laid out in the woods of Glen Nant Forest.
Loch Awe & Pass of Brander
The A85 follows the River Awe over the Pass of Brander where the mountain backdrop includes the majestic double peak of Ben Cruachan (3,693ft/1126m).
Typical Visit: 30 minutes
Cruachan Power Station
In the Visitor Centre at Cruachan dam it is possible to watch the turbines that lie at the end of a long tunnel. These generators convert the water that flows from the reservoir 1,200ft/364.5m above into electricity.
Address: Dalmally, Argyll PA33 1AN, Scotland
Opening hours: Feb 1 to Mar 31: 10am-3:45pm; Closed: Sun, Sat
Apr 1 to Oct 31: 9:30am-4:45pm
Apr 1 to Oct 31: 9:30am-4:45pm
Entrance fee in GBP: Adult £6.00, Students £5.00, Senior £5.00, Child 16 & under £2.50, Child 5 & under FREE
Disability Access: Partial facilities for persons with disabilities.
Typical Visit: 30 minutes
The restored Edwardian steamer "Lady Rowena" takes holiday makers for cruises on Loch Awe, one of Scotland's largest and most attractive lakes. It leaves from the pier in the village of Lochawe and then heads south beneath wooded hillsides and past several islands including Priest's Isle, formerly a priests' colony, and Inishail, once the site of a Cistercian monastery.
The ruins of Kilchurn Castle occupy a picturesque spot on a small peninsula at the northern end of Loch Awe. It was built by Colin Campbell of Glenorchy ca. 1440. Originally the castle consisted of a tower and keep, but in 1693 the first Earl of Breadalbane reinforced the site with a curtain wall. In 1745 Hanoverian troops were billeted here.
Carnasserie Castle dates from the middle of the 16th C but it was destroyed in 1685. It was once the seat of John Carswell, the first Protestant bishop of the islands. He translated the liturgy of John Knox into Gaelic and, when it was published in 1567, it became the first book to appear in this language.
In the sixth century Dunadd Fort, an Iron Age hill fort on the south bank of the River Add (4mi/6.4km to the south of Kilmartin), was the royal residence for the Scottish Dal Riata kingdom (500-850). It was here in 574 that St Columba crowned King Aidan and where according to legend the earliest rulers accepted the crown of Scotland on the "Stone of Destiny". Kenneth MacAlpin later united the Picts and the Scots and the Celtic Scone became their new capital. The famous stone was taken to Perth and later to London by Edward I. A rock on the hill bears what is known as an "Ogham inscription" or rune-like markings named after the Celtic god Ogmios. They are thought to be the oldest type of Gaelic symbol. Originating in Ireland in the fourth century they were used until the ninth century.
At Arduaine, the international collection of flowers and trees takes the visitor on a horticultural tour around the world. The garden is from the early 20th C, designed by Loch Melfort.
A line of unusual gravestones can be seen in the church graveyard at Kilmartin (pop. 150). The oldest cross dates from Pictish times, the most recent is 19th century. To the south of the tiny village, near the A816, a number of standing stones have been preserved. The oldest, the Nether Largie South Cairn, dates from the early Bronze Age (ca. 5000 B.C.). It was later extended on both sides with more cairns. The markings on the stone slabs in the glass-covered burial chamber are sacred symbols.
A detour towards the southwest from Kilmartin to the Knapdale peninsula is worthwhile. Castle Sween (15mi/24km) on the east coast is thought to be the oldest stone castle on the Scottish mainland. It was built in the middle of the 12th century but destroyed in 1647 by Sir Alexander MacDonald.
St Columba's Cave
The narrow coast road passes St Columba's Cave. This rocky cavern just north of Ellary was probably used by Stone Age man. It is said the St Columba first set foot on Scottish soil here and a rock altar and cross symbols testify to the existence of an early Christian church.
The A816 continues south to the village of Lochgilphead, home of the Highland Porcelain Pottery.
About 100 different species of rhododendron bloom in the gardens of Kilmory Castle (1770).
Appaloosa Riding Centre
The center is located between Oban and Lochgilphead and offers guided rides through the local woodlands and hills. Hombred Appaloosas and Quarterhorses are used for treks.Local accommodation can be arranged.