Monday’s itinerary read “Take a trip out to the coastal town of Oban” ….Well it was a lovely day so after breakfast we set off for Oban. Along the way Bob the Driver suggested to us that as an extra he would like to take those of use that were interested, to the Isle of Seil where we would see the House of Trouser! Intrigued I put up my hand! Inevitably there were people who just wanted to wander around the town of Oban, so they were dropped off and about half of us continued on with Bob and enjoyed the very pretty scenic drive to Atlantic Bridge, the crossing between the mainland and the Isle of Seil. Looking to our left over the bridge along the inlet we could just about make out in the distance the Atlantic Ocean, making this a true island. We stopped just after the bridge where there was a very tiny “art gallery” which consisted of mainly hand-made postcards depicting the Clachan Bridge and the pub called Tish -an – Truish Inn or ”The House of Trouser” and we got out to take photos. The Inn got its name because it was used by islanders after the Jacobite Rising of 1745 to change from their trousers into the forbidden KILT when returning to the island. Clachan Bridge – The Bridge over the Atlantic – was built in 1791. The rare purple flower growing on the bridge is the Fairy Foxglove (conspicuous by its absence).
Moving on, we drove the length of the Isle with some amazingly picturesque scenery, and finally reached the little white and slate village of Ellenabeich which is a charming fishing port and artists paradise. We were welcomed by the owner of the Gallery who treated us to a tasting of his home made “tablet” a kind of rich buttery fudge – yummy. We had about an hour and a half there to look around, sample the goodies in the pubs and café’s, look out over the harbour wall to the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, and marvel at the impressive cliffs with the suicidal sheep grazing far too near the edge! Watched a family of crows playing overhead and a peregrine flew through really fast scattering several hares that I had previously not even noticed! All too soon we set off back the way we had come, back to Oban in time for lunch, and a look around the town.
We had about 2 hours in Oban so, not really wanting to look around yet more of the same shops, I decided to take a boat trip out to see the seals! There was a boat leaving at 2.30, so after making sure I would get back by 3.30, I boarded the little fishing boat, along with two couples, one with two enormous St.Bernard dogs, and the other couple with a Westie! Off we went at a good lick out of the harbour, and were soon at sea, rocking about in the swell, and blowing in the sunshine and wind. After about 20 minutes the boat slowed and in front of us was a small hump of an island, where about 20 or so seals were lazing about in the sunshine, some of them with pups. They were very curious and some slid into the water and bobbed about watching us – very cute. It was a bit difficult taking photos while the boat was rocking about! While at sea, besides the seals I saw a guillemot flying low over the water, and a gannet, and back in the harbour my now favourite hooded crows.
Tuesday was supposed to be our “day of leisure” and the driver’s day off. But Bob was anxious that we should see as much as possible so he suggested, for a tenner a head, that he would contact another driver for the day, and become one of us on a day trip to Stirling, if anyone was interested. Most of us said yes please! So after breakfast we set off for the long drive back through the Loch Lomond National Park and The Trossachs, stopping off at Callender for a short break, where we were introduced to “Hamish” the largest male Highland Bull we had ever seen! UN-obligingly though, he decided not to stand up, probably because it was starting to rain, but posed nicely for us to take his picture! Set off again, passing Doune Castle, and soon the Wallace Monument Tower came into view, along with our first glimpse of Stirling Castle perched high up above the town. Craig ( the relief driver) dropped us off in town and told us what time to be back, and David and Alan immediately raced off to find the Tourist Information office, while the rest of us that wanted to see the Castle set off at a leisurely pace up the steep hill. On the way I stopped at a little shop and bought a Bridie (pastry like our Cornish Pastie) to have with my lunch. It had now stopped raining and by the time I reached the Castle I was a bit warm and puffed out! Stirling Castle was amazing! Very well laid out and full of interesting nooks and crannies and I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours exploring. Took loads of photos, and the view from the ramparts was spectacular looking over the whole town and beyond, where once there were battlefields where Robert The Bruce claimed his land.
The Dyfi Osprey Project and the Scottish wildlife Trust have kindly given their permission for us to post still and video images from their webcams. To visit their sites please click on the relevant link. Loch of the Lowes. Dyfi Osprey Project.