Oban, Glenfinnan, Corpach

Aug 03, 2018 - Lord of the Glens


We started the day off with a Scottish flourish: a post-breakfast tour of the Oban Distillery—and at least a few people followed the Scottish tradition of adding a bit of whiskey to their porridge in preparation for the event. The Oban Distillery was established in 1794, before Oban was even a town, making it one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. The buildings remain much the same as they were in the 1890s, when the business was renovated and updated. A wee dram ended the tour, and engraved glasses were given out as a memento of the visit.

Those who opted to skip the distillery instead explored the bustling town. Oban is a transportation hub with a ferry port, a bus station, and a train station, and many surrounding smaller communities depend on it for shopping and essential goods.

During lunch, we sailed out of Oban and up Loch Linnhe, entering the Caledonian Canal The canal was engineered by Thomas Telford and constructed between 1803 and 1822, and encompasses 22 miles of man-made canal, 38 miles of open lochs, and a total of 29 locks to pass through.

After lunch, despite the drizzly weather, one group set off to kayak with Eric and local kayak guides. As they paddled, the kayakers encountered showers, winds, tides, and a few calm moments in an adventurous journey through Loch Linnhe. It was a memorable and enjoyable time.

The majority of our group traveled by bus up to Glenfinnan, the point where Bonnie Prince Charlie landed in 1745 to raise his standard in the campaign to reclaim the throne for the Stuart Dynasty. This third Jacobite uprising ended in the disastrous defeat at Culloden in 1746. While at Glenfinnan, many took a walk to see the viaduct made famous by the Harry Potter movies, and they strolled into the lush glen itself surrounded by mountains draped with mist. Others strolled along Loch Sheil and were lucky enough to catch sight of a red deer stag with a large set of antlers.

After dinner, Alistair Gibson, the Glenfinnan Estate manager, offered fascinating insight into estate management in modern Scotland. Deer stalking, timber production, and tourism (especially after the success of Harry Potter) are all part of the everyday tasks.

Our berth for the night at Corpach was in the shadow of mighty Ben Nevis, the U.K.’s highest mountain at 4,412 feet. As we settled in, the mountain loomed overhead with its summit lost in the clouds. The tiniest bit of blue sky was just visible, carrying hope for a bright day tomorrow.

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About the Author

Robin Patten

Naturalist

The natural world has always been central to Robin’s life. At an early age, she was out exploring the Montana backcountry, learning natural history through experience. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in landscape ecology from Colorado State University, followed by an M.S. in Environmental Writing from the University of Montana and a Post-Graduate Diploma from Scotland’s Centre for Mountain Studies. Her studies included environmental history and cultural geography, and her work often focuses on the interactions between cultures and landscapes. Robin still lives in Montana, writing and working from a small cabin near Yellowstone National Park.

About the Photographer

Eric Kruszewski

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

An editorial photographer and videographer based in Washington, D.C., Eric Kruszewski's multimedia work focuses on reportage and travel. His work is represented by National Geographic Creative, and he is a regular contributor to National Geographic's Image Collection.

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