The journey from Inverary along Loch Awe and across the Pass of Brander towards Oban, was a beautiful drive with ever changing scenery, lochs and hills. Our campsite at Ledaig overlooked the sea towards Oban’s tiny airport and a marina at Dunbeg, where we were meeting up with many friends in the Bessacarr Owners Holiday Rally for 6 days. After the drive it was so nice to be welcomed with a beer and a hug while we settled in, our pitch on a very gentle gradient giving great view across the bay. We all do as much or as little as we want together as a group and generally everyone goes their separate ways during the daytime, with a few get-togethers spaced over the week.
On a beautiful sunny day we headed south to Arduaine Gardens around 20 miles south of Oban. Situated on the coast it’s 20 acres have been developed since 1898 with many varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas, shrubs, bamboo, ferns and garden favourites all sheltered by high canopy of trees.
For lunch we drove to Easdale in anticipation of oysters by the sea. What a picturesque village and coastal headland it turned out to be with small tidal inlets, pink sea thrift tucked in among the rocks, and pretty low white houses nestled under the tall surrounding rocks. The small traditional pub sadly only had 3 oysters left so we had one and a half each! Chris had Cullen Skink, a type of seafood chowder, and I chose 4 langoustines with salad, but they only had 3 left! So we shared some chips to fill up and made fellow diners jealous because we got the last ones, lots of laughs and banter with strangers and fellow sightseers, its what its all about.
On the drive back we found a much photographed Clachan Bridge, a single humped back bridge over Clachan Sound, so we stopped to do just that, again it was very picturesque and relaxing by the river. Also known as the Bridge over the Atlantic, it got this name due to the fact that Clachan Sound is connected at both ends to the Atlantic.
For something completely different we went to the Nevis Range Mountain Resort for a Gondola ride up into the mountains. The day was grey and dull but we were dressed for the occasion and took the very smooth ride up the hillside ready for a couple of short walks to view points. The views were tremendous, way down to Fort William, some distant lakes and across to peaks and mountains. We caught a glimpse of Ben Nevis, with snow still visible, before it was engulfed in low cloud and drizzle. We sheltered by rocks whilst waiting for a break in the weather, sun appeared briefly down in the valleys but not where we were, undeterred, we did the next walk to a different view point before returning on the gondola for our ride down. It had been 1° Celsius up at the top and was a balmy 10° back at the bottom, and this is June!
Oban itself had a pretty town centre with individual shops, eateries and bars situated around the harbour from where the fishing boats and ferries went in and out. We had a good fish and chip lunch and promised ourselves a proper seafood platter on our return.
Taking a walk from the campsite along off road paths created by the charity Sustrans from disused railway lines, we were able to go along through wooded cuttings, alongside small fields and came out on a beach. We saw a variety of birds but the most exciting was a golden eagle being mobbed by crows, several times it flipped on it’s back, talons extended to ward them off, and flapped off into the distance.
Driving a long 90+ mile circuit heading north for Glencoe, we stopped for a look at the visitor centre and a short walk in the area of replanted native woodlands, a few remaining bluebells, beautiful orchids and foxgloves.
Then we headed east through mountains and high moorland with wonderful sites of craggy peaks, slashed by torrents of waterfalls, dotted with sheep and tourists. The sun made appearances between the sudden rain storms, showing vibrant colours over beautiful vistas and vast empty spaces on the higher plateaus, and lower down there were gentle, tranquil spots down by the rivers where dragonflies and bees buzzed over the wildflowers and yellow iris.
During our holiday with the Bessacarr Group, and on separate occasions, we enjoyed a sociable Pimms afternoon get together, an early wine and cheese evening, and lastly a meal at a the Lochnell Arms overlooking the fast flowing Loch Etive as it exited into sea. It was great to spend time catching up with friends and hearing the tales of their days out, swapping experiences and giving each other details about great places to visit. It was this Bessacarr Holiday Trip that prompted us to put into action our often talked about visit to Scotland. Originally it was going to be a few weeks, but morphed into a much longer trip because there is so much to see and do, and not least, it is so far to travel from the south of England.