Wednesday 10th of February

Oban Travel Blog

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The day began with an early breakfast and an air of surprise. Kae had been planning the trip for a while now and I was anticipating what lay ahead. We were up early and well fed only in the knowledge that the trip would last Wednesday through Sunday We set off on our journey and headed in the car towards the Trossachs. By this point I had guessed some sort of West Highland jaunt which proved somewhat accurate. First stop just outside of Stirling was Doune Castle site for some the Holy Grail movie.

Doune is remarkable among Scottish castles, as it is the product of a single building period, and has survived relatively unchanged and complete. It was begun in the late 14th century by Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany (c.1340–1420), the son of King Robert II of Scotland, and Regent of Scotland from 1388 until his death. The castle passed to the crown in 1425, when Albany's son was executed, and was used as a royal hunting lodge and dower house. In the later 16th century, Doune became the property of the Earls of Moray. The castle saw military action during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and Glencairn's rising in the mid-17th century, and during the Jacobite Risings of the late 17th and 18th centuries. By 1800 the castle was ruined, but restoration works were carried out in the 1880s, prior to its passing into state care in the 20th century. It is now maintained by Historic Scotland. During our time at the Castle we both seemed to lose one another or more accurately Kae climbed stairs to the top that I must have missed when exploring at this point I was searching everywhere thinking she had gone missing or something similar. 45 mins later I received a call of ‘where are you, I’m at the lookout point’ this confused me as I was sure I had searched everywhere castle gardens included. Crisis had been averted and we had a good long giggle at the idea of Kae’s potential abduction. After this we headed on through the Trossachs to Oban.

We arrived in Oban around lunchtime and quickly had some light snacks to fuel us for a few hours more that day, good old crackers and pate!! Oban is a quiet fishing town an hour North of Glasgow looking out towards the Isle of Mull. Its skyline is dominated by McCaigs tower which overlooks the harbour from the hilltop. We started by getting a coffee to warm up and heading to the harbour. We went for a walk through the town then headed for the tower atop the hill. It was a glorious day and offered a great view! You could see all the way to the Islands where hourly ferries run from the dock. Sadly being winter most other attractions were closed. We enjoyed the views headed back to town and decided to continue on for what was a long journey to Fort William.

The strategic location just outside Oban, and the presence of such an inviting lump of rock on which to build, means that this has been a defended site for nearly 1500 years. In the 600s the Kings of Dalriada, the Kingdom of the Scots who migrated to Argyll from Ireland, built a stronghold here. It is even suggested that this was the original keeping place of the Stone of Destiny. Much of the castle you see at Dunstaffnage today was built by the MacDougall’s in the 1200s. The castle did, however, transfer to royal possession when it was captured after a siege by Robert the Bruce in 1309. Records show that in 1470, custody was passed to the first Earl of Argyll, Colin Campbell. In 1502 it was passed from the Earl to his cousin, who became known as Captain of Dunstaffnage, and in whose family ownership of the castle remains. Dunstaffnage was burned in May 1685 during an attempted uprising by the Earl of Argyll against James VII/II supported by Dutch troops. His uprising was quashed and the Earl was executed, but too late to save Dunstaffnage. During the Jacobite uprising of 1745, Dunstaffnage was garrisoned by government forces. It also became the temporary prison of Flora MacDonald in 1746 after she was arrested for assisting Bonnie Prince Charlie.

We arrived in the Fort in the early evening and all though the Campfield house B&B offered clear directions was still not easy to find tucked at the side of the A82 overlooking the stunning Loch Linnhe. We checked in and had a cup of tea to revive us. The room was impressive and our hosts courteous. We decided to head into town for a stroll and to find a place for dinner. Again due to the wintertime a lot of places were open only restricted hours. We found a quiet pub and got stuck into good old fashioned grub washed down with a beer and cider.
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photo by: Vikram