I’m really looking forward to today’s walk. After many miles of inland walking, it will make a nice change to be on the coast again. I leave The Beast in the caravan park and set off along the narrow lane towards the Sound of Kerrera.
The road winds down the hill, with flower-filled meadows on either side. There’s the Sound of Kerrera ahead.
(The lady who runs the camp site recommended a trip over to the Island of Kerrera because, apparently, it’s very beautiful. If I had been able to work out a circular walking route around the coast I might have gone and spent the day on the island, but no such route exists.)
I reach the shore, where there’s a jetty and a diving centre. If I turned left at this point, I would come to another camp site, but that’s a dead-end, so I’m turning right towards Oban.
It’s only a few hundred yards before I reach another jetty. This is where the passenger ferry leaves to go over to Kerrera. It’s a popular place, with a crowd waiting for the next boat, and the little car park is full.
I carry on along the road. Oban is a couple of miles away. To my right are cliffs and the high land of Druim Mor. I pass Kilbowie Outdoor Centre, where a group of youngsters are assembling for some adventure.
I reach a residential area and am overtaken by a couple on touring bikes. They must have come from one of the campsites, and look heavily laden with tents, sleeping bags, and other equipment.
I moan about the weight of The Monster, but that’s nothing compared to carrying all your camping stuff around on a bike. I admire those cyclists.
Now I’m passing properties with pretty gardens and neat lawns, and I can see Oban Bay ahead.
A couple of workmen are peering down a hole in the road. A few cars rush past, and I think the men should really be wearing high vis jackets.
I pass a building with an interesting plaque outside. “Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses”. The local lighthouses and navigation buoys are serviced from here.
The road bends round and into Oban Bay. There’s a large ferry below me, just pulling out from the quay. It will be heading towards one of the many islands.
One day I’ll come back and visit some of the Hebridean islands, I promise myself. (Another “one day” promise to add to my list!)
I follow the walking route into Oban and, for a few minutes, I think I’ve taken a wrong turn or misunderstood the signs, and there’s a possibility I might end up visiting the islands by mistake! The pedestrian route actually goes right through the ferry-boarding area.
I walk past Wetherspoons and reach the main road through Oban, which runs along the waterfront. It’s a bustling place, but quite touristy. What’s that weird building on the hill? It looks like the Colosseum.
Just off the main road is a grey building covered in scaffolding. (You can see it in the centre of the photo above.) This turns out to be The Oban Distillery. Now, if only it was a rainy day… but I really must get on with this walk while the weather holds.
At the end of the bay are two cathedrals. Two? That’s plain greedy. Turns out one is Catholic, and the other belongs to the Scottish Episcopal Church.
I’m reaching a narrow part of the Sound of Kerrera, and another ferry is passing through on its way to the port at Oban. Over on the island I can see a tall monument, and I wonder what it is and why it’s there.
[Later I learn the monument on Kerrera was placed in memory of David Hutcheson, a nineteenth-century ship owner, and also serves as a navigational mark.]
On this side of the water is another monument. This one is for fallen soldiers of the two World Wars, and is topped by a rather fine statue of two soldiers in kilts helping a wounded comrade.
The wind is blowing fresh off the sea, and the sun is behind clouds. I realise I’m quite cold. First time on this walking trek that I’ve actually felt chilly. I’m only wearing a T-shirt and a thin fleece. Oh dear, wish I’d brought something warmer with me.
Then I remember I’m carrying my emergency rain cagoule, which never leaves my rucksack. I pull this on, and feel slightly warmer. The cagoule is made of very thin nylon, but at least it keeps the worst of the wind out.
Beyond the war memorial is a stubby little lighthouse, and a castle.
I’m following a narrow dead-end road along the coast. It isn’t very busy, but the pavement soon comes to an end – and now I’m playing dodgems with traffic again. Not pleasant. To my right are rocky walls. To my left is a wonderful view across the sea.
After a few hundred yards, I come to an area where there are a few houses lining the road, and a pretty little beach. It’s 12:30 already and I’m a little peckish, although I haven’t walked far because there’s been just too much to look at in Oban.
Time for a drink and a snack. I go down onto the beach and sit on the sand. From here I watch another ferry making its way around the corner of Kerrera Island.
Onwards. I soon reach the end of the road, where there’s a new development of houses, a large car park, and another beautiful sandy beach. This is Ganavan Bay.
The view is breathtaking. All those mountains! Fabulous. I pull out my OS map, but of course the mountains are well off the sheet. Next, I study the map on my Garmin, but still can’t make out what I’m looking at. Oh well. I’ll just enjoy looking.
I was wondering if I could stay here in the Beast tomorrow night, but the proximity of the nearby houses put me off. And then I see the signs. There are an awful lot of things you’re not allowed to do in the Ganavan Sands car park, and that includes overnight camping!
There’s a little refreshment van over there – Dougie Dans. It’s rather close to the toilets for my liking – but I think it might be sheltering from the wind. Anyway, I can’t resist some hot food, so I go over and order a cup of tea, with a hamburger and chips.
A couple with a huge dog sit on one of the tables nearby. We get talking, and they tell me their dog is missing its companion. Their other dog is old, and they left it behind when they came on holiday, but they learnt this morning it had been taken very ill, and had to be put down.
Oh dear. I’m so sorry. It’s horrible to lose a dog, and when you’re away on holiday too.
I sit for some time, enjoying my chips and admiring the view. A wonderful place.
But I can’t sit here for ever. I’ve got more walking to do…
[To be continued…]
This morning’s route: