Banavie & Oban

Jun 12, 2019 - Lord of the Glens


This morning we completed our traverse of the Caledonian Canal, beginning with the descent of Neptune’s Staircase. The staircase is a series of eight locks that lower the ship 19 meters (62 feet) over a quarter of a mile. After passing through swinging bridges, we paused in the small village of Corpach to wait for the tides to reach an optimal level for our exit from the canal. This gave us the opportunity to walk the tow path and enjoy the morning bits of sunshine.

Past Corpach, we went through the final sea lock of the Caledonian Canal into Loch Linnhe, en route for the town of Oban. For the rest of our journey we will be in the saltwater of the Atlantic Ocean, sailing through the islands of the Inner Hebrides. As we traveled Loch Linnhe, we were still within the Great Glen fault, though beyond the stretch of the canal.

As we sailed to our day’s destination of Oban, we heard a talk on “The Peopling of Britain and Ireland to the Coming of Christianity,” explaining the different populations that came into the country as well as the advent of Celtic Christianity to Scotland, preparing us for our planned trip to Iona tomorrow.

We reached Oban midafternoon, with plenty of time to explore the town. Oban is a bustling place, providing services to surrounding communities and acting as a transport hub with numerous ferries, trains, and buses passing through. Above the town stands McCaig’s Tower (also known as McCaig’s Folly) looking like a ruined Roman coliseum. The building was constructed by the wealthy banker John Stuart McCaig starting in 1895, but it was left unfinished after McCaig’s death in 1902. Many took this opportunity to tour the Oban Distillery, established in 1794 and one of the oldest in Scotland. The buildings remain much the same as they were in the 1890s when the business was renovated and updated. The tour ended with a nice sample of one of the distillery’s products, the Oban 14.

During recap, we heard a talk about British walking culture and then photo tips on capturing light and action in a photograph. After dinner, we had a nightcap of more whisky, sipped alongside a local expert.

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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.

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