Road Trip to Oban (Scotland)

“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.”
~ Alvin Toffler

Oban is a small coastal town in western Scotland, set in the iconic Firth of Lorn, a strait that was featured in the second James Bond film From Russia with Love, released in 1963.
From Russia with Love (1963)

From Russia with Love (1963)

I have first heard about Oban when I read some news on Heriot-Watt University’s website concerning the construction of a new marine laboratory in there and ever since that moment I’ve been looking forward to a chance to visit it. Such an opportunity arose on Christmas Day in 2014, which happened to be a warm and sunny day. I wanted a different kind of Christmas, other than drinking and eating excessively, and I wasn’t disappointed.

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Near Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

My boyfriend and I, we started our journey early in the morning in Dundee, a coastal city in eastern Scotland. The day was already so bright and promising, but as we drove by Perth and approached higher lands, we experienced thick mists that quickly vanished in the morning sun. Some of the mountaintops far into the distance were covered with snow, making the landscape seem unexplored and untamed. We drove by Loch Earn and glimpsed the Mirror Man statue placed on the shore, reflecting the golden light like a ball of fire. A few days after the trip we found out that due to a massive storm that hit the UK, the statue had been overturned by the wind, despite weighing several tons.

North of the Trossachs

North of the Trossachs

We drove further, north of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, with beautiful sights on both sides of the road. In this area massive clouds covered the sky and threatened to engulf it completely, but by the time we neared the banks of Loch Etive, the horizon was blue again as it was early in the morning. Loch Etive is a lake located northeast of Oban and it discretely meets the sea at Connel, a village known for Connel Bridge, a cantilever bridge 5 km away from our destination.

View from McCaig's Tower in Oban

View from McCaig’s Tower in Oban

Oban means The Little Bay in Scottish Gaelic and it’s an idyllic resort for a quick getaway from the busy life of the city. It is sheltered by the Isle of Kerrera, an island in the Scottish Inner Hebrides which is known for its ruined Gylen Castle, built in 1582, and beyond Kerrera lies the much larger Isle of Mull, which is the fourth largest island in Scotland. Oban has a population of nearly 9000 residents, but during the tourist season the dramatic scenery attracts up to three times that many visitors. We happened to be there on a day when most people are at home, so the streets were quite empty. Because it was Christmas Day coffee shops and stores were closed, but we eventually found a hotel that had its restaurant open and enjoyed a large mug of cappuccino with a view of the beautiful bay.

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Inside McCaig’s Tower

After the short break we took our coats and walked by the Congregational Chruch and up the 144 steps of Jacob’s Ladder, a steep ascent from sea level to McCaig’s Tower on top of Battery Hill. This astounding monument resembles the Colosseum in Rome, having been commissioned by the wealthy John Stuart McCaig, an admirer of Greek and Roman architecture, who supervised its construction between 1897 and 1902.

We walked around the tower’s circumference of 200 meters and glimpsed the sunset over the bay through the monument’s arched windows, but soon the sun disappeared behind the hills and a wintery chill descended upon the place, forcing us to return to the warmth of the car and, at the end of such a lovely journey, we silently promised to ourselves to come back to Oban whenever we felt like living yet another memorable day all over again.

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