28 October 2013
The hike to McCaig's Tower atop a central hill in Oban is short, but depending on the route, can be strenuous. One can either wind up gradually on narrow streets, being aware of cars taking tight turns (and trying to get round one another as well, kind of a hairy situation...) or take the stairs. Steep stairs, and a lot of them. I took the street route first and the stair route the second -- yep, I climbed to McCaig's Tower not once, but twice!
The morning of the one full day I was in Oban, I knew I had to get up to see this tower. It's an unusual sort of thing, easily spotted from just about anywhere in the city because it's so high up on Battery Hill. It looks like an approximation of a colosseum shell, which it apparently was modeled after by its designer and financier, banker John Stuart McCaig. He died before it was completed to his original plans, which included a museum inside, along with statues of the McCaig family, so all that remains is the shell. Now the interior is lined with paths and landscaped with shrubs and trees.
Perhaps more important than the tower itself: the view. Let me just say right now that if there's anything worth doing in Oban, it's saving your money and skipping the high street shops and making your way up to this vista point. The neighborhood is also worth a good little toot around, too, just for its quaint architecture and continuous wonderful views down the hill. On a clear day, you can see foreveerrrrr! Or at as far as the farthest island will let you. Hence taking two trips: the first day was overcast with lower clouds that obscured some of the higher peaks of the isles in the distance. The second day, though still overcast, visibility was much better. So I just had to!
And then for day two... You can get a much better sense of distance here. It was so nice to sit and watch the ferries come and go. If it hadn't been raining sporadically, I would have loved to sketch some of this scene.
If only I had been in the area for more than a couple of nights, I would have loved to take the ferry to some far-flung island and hike around. I think that might be a bucket list item for the summer.. Go scout out some seal colonies, cycle around islands (I'm harkening back to my 2011 family vacation now, I can't help it!), pick up seashells... I really love and miss the smell of salt in the air, and seaweed and the sea wind. I'll definitely be back.
The same day that I first climbed to McCaig's Tower, I wandered to the north of town to visit the ruins of Dunollie Castle and a Clan MacDougall house museum. More on that... NEXT TIME. :)