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Oban >  Google™ Map May 2017+  Argyll and Bute Coat of Arms

(an t)-òban Scottish Gaelic (the) little bay. Population - 8,575.

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May 2017+

Argyll and Bute Coat of Arms

The Atlantis Leisure Centre serves the sporty townsfolk of Oban although SlyBob have only ever used their conveniences and its convenience as a preferred parking-provider.

It's free, you see, and perfect since Oban '  isn't all that big at least that's how I found it / Why it only took an hour-and-a-half to walk completely round it.'

Slightly more than that, actually, but enough time to embrace some unfinished architecture, mull over a lug up a hill and still find a few minutes to cement international relations, seafood-wise.

While a move to Oban isn't really being considered, it's hard not to be charmed by what was left by the Victorians. One of their buildings is now the Town Museum but it used to house the Oban Times, a distraction while you check out the sailing times.

Oban War & Peace Museum

Oban is, quite literally, a little bay, and there are trips to see the seals at the northern end of it, you see.

Behind the Columba Hotel is a car park and an early-elderly, Far Eastern couple are wanting directions to the train station. No problem, employ the International Sign Language system of pointing and finger splaying to convey the way... 'It's over there, five minutes.'

Oban is the end of the line and if you're training it from here, it's south to Glasgow with not that many car-free options in between. They've just parked up here so they're not likely to be taking the ferry?  It's a mystery.

  Ee-Usk (North Pier)

Behind you, Ee-usk™ meets all of your modern, seafood dining needs and all just about on the water. The name is from some fishy-sounding Gaelic and their fayre is straight off the dock so it couldn't be any fresher, it's thought.

Just as much of a mystery is the amphitheatre in the background where it's not thought the Romans made it this far north?

Oban - McCaig's Tower

It's now known to be McCaig's Tower and dominates the town but there's a wait before it's walked up to so more on that in a minute.

It's a short stroll around the bay via George Street and the inevitable Edinburgh Woolie Mill™ but you may find yourself further delayed at Oban's fairly well-known distillery.

Oban Bay
Oban Distillery

Not that it's known what the inside of one looks like, Sly don't drive, you see, so Bob's left clutching at even the angels' share.

It's not a huge loss with a much more aromatic distillation preferred anyway... '  Tanqueray and tonic's my favourite drink / I don't like anything coloured pink' or brownish for that matter.

  Little Bay Café (Stafford Street)

Cosy little place alright where the crabs are always well dressed and the cakes aren't all of the crustacea variety.

Things are rather more modern at the southern end of the bay. There you'll find shopping, the town's train station and an airport-like terminal where Caledonian MacBrayne™ will ferry you and your car to the Inner or Outer Hebrides.

Oban Ferry Terminal
  The Corryvreckan (Railway Pier) wetherspoon

The Spoons have a tradition of naming their pubs based on the history of the town or the old building they invariably inhabit. The inevitable offering in a town of this size is called the Corryvreckan, an ocean whirlpool about 20-odd miles south-west of here.

There are no awards for their nearly-out-of-date ale but the Director of Contrived Waterhole Naming gets a fearsome (4/5), which would have been a (5/5) if only the maelstrom in question wasn't 20-odd miles away.

Investigations into the mystery of the overseas visitors had stalled with no fresh leads but SlyBob P.I. soon had the case solved. There they were, fans of the fish from the Far East, sat at a trestle table up to their elbows in langoustine shells and loving every morsel.

The train station was just a reference point for a notoriously good shellfish shack nearby that they'd obviously targeted.

Oban - Seafood Hut (Green Shack)

'Scallops the size of a Labrador's paw are served in a puddle of salty garlic butter.' Not their words but those of  Jay Rayner, no less, and at least one contented couple would agree.

The '  fish shack is a little old place where we can snack together.'

It has so far been fine on the flat but for a sense of your surroundings, follow the sign at the end of Albany Street up to Pulpit Hill.

Oban - From Pulpit Hill

It's an ominous start with a handrail to help haul yourself up 'Haggarts Brae' before you reach a small, recreational area with, not unreasonably, reasonable views.

You can continue further up to a telecoms mast where the views are, not unsurprisingly, even better but this might involve snucking through someone's back garden.

Oban - From Above Pulpit Hill
Near Oban - Over to Kerrera

If you're making a day of it, there's a longer loop to be done with the island of Kerrera, just a quarter-of-a-mile offshore, making an appearance.

On there is another seven-mile circular with a castle and a monument to keep you amused and access is by ferry.

Near Oban - Ferry to Kerrera

In the not too distant past, you had to wave at a man on the other side to come back across but it's now run by CalMac™ and you can book online, which some pen-pusher, somewhere, saw as progress, probably.

This all makes for one heck of a combined hike and would require some suitably  sturdy footwear.

Meanwhile, back down in town, it's much less of a lug up to McCaig's Tower with the legs now loosened.

John Stuart McCaig was a wealthy, local banker who also fancied his hand as an architect even though it's known locally as McCaig's Folly. It was a largely self-indulgent construction but there was an element of philanthropy and by providing work for local, unemployed stonemasons he could have his Caig and eke it.

His original plan was for a roof to house a gallery of statues of the main McCaigs only for work to literally grind to a halt on his death in 1902.

The completed shell houses, instead, a clean, booze-free public garden with fantastic views down to where you were earlier and out to the surrounding islands.

Oban - Inside McCaig's Tower
Oban - From McCaig's Tower

There are rumblings over the electricity bill, however, and it may not remain lit up at night forever. It's a fine sight and... '  There is a light that should never go out.'

Looking just about west from the tower on a clear day, you can mull over a nice view of Mull. That's the Isle of Mull and not the... '  Mull of Kintyre / Oh mist rolling in from the sea.'

Oban - Mull from McCaig's Tower
Oban - Ferries

If you're lucky, the ferry terminal down below might put on a bit of a show and Otis Redding might even have written...

'Sittin' on the top of McCaig / Watchin' all the boats make a spray / Rolling on in from Cumbrae and then out again' etc. Bob would go on but a loose tooth makes whistling a little difficult.

It's all very fancy, residentially, around McCaig's and they've gone all Gaudí on this one.

Oban - Laurel Road
Oban - Craigard Road

The road down drops you back onto George Street, Oban's main shopping strip, and there, outside Nories Fish and Chips, Mr Far East from earlier and an acknowledging nod. His wife? Her stronger grasp of the language means she's inside, waiting for a couple of cod suppers!

Now, the occasional fish is fine but... 'that was  ridiculous.'

A move to Oban has been considered on the way back to the Atlantis Leisure Centre where it's now known that John McEnroe definitely didn't learn his trade.

Oban - Atlantis Leisure Centre

The problem is it's about 250 miles away and that's a considerable round trip to nip back to see the relatives...

'And I would drive  500 miles / And I would drive 500 more / Just to be the man who drove a 1,000 miles to see the mother-in-law.', twice.