McCaigs Folly at Oban

North Highlands Trips by Public Transport – Inverness to Oban

This North Highlands trip through some glorious scenery tracing the route of the Great Glen takes around five hours by two coaches starting from Inverness Coach Station and ending on the harbour front at Oban on the west coast. There is one bus change at Fort Wiliam, but the two buses are pretty much next to one another, so there is little issue with transferring bags.

Loch Ness to Oban – North Highlands Trip

I apologise for the video quality on this trip from Loch Ness to Oban on the public bus services. This experiment in using Handycam technology proved not to work as well as I had hoped.

The road between Inverness and Fort William was developed and constructed to the designs of Thomas Telford. He designed it to serve the more major project of the construction of the Caledonian Canal. Today the road is far more significant as a connecting route than is the Canal, which is almost entirely used for leisure traffic.

The view from the coach is far better than you will get from the confines of a car, and of course, you don’t need to keep your eye out for traffic on the busy road.

There are long stretches where trees and bushes are planted up high by the roadside but, the human brain is far cleverer than a Handycam. You actually get a better impression of the scenery when you look out in person.

After Fort Augustus, the views open out a little more in the lush scenery around Loch Oich.

The beginnings of the Western Highlands come into view at Loch Lochy, and we can look up at the imposing mountains of Lochaber beyond the Laggan Forest on the opposite side of the loch. The waters of the wide clear loch reflect the scenery above in dramatic style.

For now, the mountains on our left-hand side are too close to see properly, but soon, the views here open out, and it becomes hard to know where to look for the most spectacular views as the Nevis range appears and disappears behind the tightly planted pine forests to our south.

All too soon, we find ourselves at the foot of Ben Nevis itself, the highest peak in the British Isles, as we approach the town of Fort William and the western end of the Caledonian Canal.

The rest of the journey to Oban is alongside Loch Linnhe, a sea loch that opens out into the Sound of Mull and the Irish Sea.

We take a detour to enjoy the views of Loch Leven.

Travelling south-west along the south side of the Loch, the views of the mountains of Ardgour to the north are world-beating.

Oban (a Gaelic word simply meaning ‘Bay’) has been around a very long time. Prehistoric remains have been found near the harbour, suggesting early settlement in the Iron Age. From Priest’s Rock, now known as Pulpit Hill, we know that there was a congregation to be preached to in the sixth century when the monastery at Iona was founded.

From the ruins of the nearby Dunollie Castle, we also know that there was an early Irish or, more correctly, Dalriadic settlement, here and the people there fought off the Romans.

The town of Oban developed during the eighteenth and nineteenth century as one of Scotland fishing ports. When the railway arrived around 1880, it coincided with tourism, and Oban soon became a tourist destination because it was easy to reach from Glasgow.

There is no longer a fishing fleet based at Oban, but it is the port for several ferry services to the Western Isles and remains an important hub.

Oban is a great location as a base for a family holiday with the town geared towards entertaining visitors. There is plenty to see and do, great foods to eat, and ferry trips from here to close by islands make for excellent days out. You need a good guide.

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