Showing posts from September, 2013


Argyll & Bute | Oban | Museum & castle | ★★★

Oban can feel a bit claustrophobic on summer weekends; on a busy day it might be wise to head up the coast road to the north. Dunollie Castle sits perches precariously on a rocky bluff overlooking the main ferry routes out of Oban Bay. The estate is currently a good option for escaping the crowds despite gradually becoming better known; the visitor experience is low-key, but several aspects add up to quite a lot. As well as the ruined castle, newer Dunollie House (dating to 1745) is now a museum about the MacDougall clan, with an old weaving cottage and woodland walks also open to visitors.

Location & info

📌 Dunollie★★★
Off Ganavan Road, 1 mi north of Oban, G.R.: NM 852315 ///economics.missions.ruin
Open daily, April to late October (2019) | £6 adult / £3 child (2019)

Castle Sween

Argyll & Bute | Achnamara | Castle | ★★

Castle Sween lies a winding half hour drive along single track roads across the remote region of Knapdale. Few tourists venture this far, but they could be missing out on Scotland's oldest castle: built around the end of the 12th century, none of its contemporaries can be dated with enough confidence to wrestle away the title. Backed by rugged hills and overlooking Loch Sween atop a rocky prominence, the obvious lack of windows reflects the overriding need for defence at all costs. But when visiting there's an unwelcome neighbour - a large caravan site occupying the surrounding land. Considering there's not exactly competition for space around here it's a bit disappointing, and does detract a bit from the atmosphere. At least a screen of trees partly separates old from new.

Location & info

📌 Castle Sween★★
Off minor road 7 mi south of Achnamara, G.R.: NR 712788 ///bagpipes.perfume.servicing
Always open | Free

Anything else?


Argyll & Bute | Taynish | Village | ★★

The area of rolling countryside jutting into Loch Sween is undisturbed even by Knapdale's own isolated standards. Tayvallich is the "capital" of the Taynish peninsula, idyllically set around a perfect natural harbour with a few essential services and a couple of places to eat. We can recommend the coffee shop on the water's edge for lunch. The nature reserve lies to the south: age-old woodland drowning in lichen (a sign of the exceptionally clean air) runs down to several sea lochs, with a good chance of spotting otters in the shallows here. 126-metre high Bàrr Mòr rises above the forest with views with superb views over seemingly endless trees and water. There are two manmade, ruined structures worth a visit - Taynish Mill and a surprisingly ornate piggery. Allow a day (with good weather) to explore the area properly.


📌 Tayvallich★★
Argyll & Bute, G.R.: NR 742872 ///folks.rocked.that

🚶 Apart from the village it…

McCaig's Tower

Argyll & Bute | Oban | Monument | ★★★

On a clear evening as the sun sets on Oban Bay, time seems to stand still at McCaig's Tower. This circular folly is the busier of two exquisite vantage points for Oban (the other being Pulpit Hill), with daytime ferries plying to and fro between the harbour and the maze of islands making up the western seaboard. The tower itself was commissioned by a wealthy banker in 1897, built to commemorate his family and give work to local stonemasons. In the end it was never completed, leaving an empty shell with no real purpose except as a prominent component of Oban's skyline, well worth the steep uphill climb from the centre of town.

Location & info

📌 McCaig's Tower ★★★
Duncraggan Road, 10-min uphill walk (or short drive) northeast of Oban town centre, G.R.: NM 861302 ///internet.perch.uplifting
Always open | Free

St Cyrus

Aberdeenshire | St Cyrus | Beach & nature reserve | ★★★★

Eastern Angus and Aberdeenshire have a plethora of beautiful beaches to choose from, but this is one of the biggest and best. This vast expanse of sand stretches all the way to Montrose, although the River North Esk limits progress to the south for most. The "X-factor" is the inland cliffs (beyond an ancient raised beach) which provide shelter from the prevailing winds and create a pleasingly dramatic backdrop. Peregrine falcons, wildflowers, butterflies and moths are responsible for the area's designation as a National Nature Reserve. The beach is quite well-known, but with no major population centres nearby it tends to stay fairly quiet, even on rare sunny days - photo evidence provided...

Location & info

📌 St Cyrus NNR★★★★
By minor road 1 mi south of St Cyrus village, G.R.: NO 742634 ///swims.remake.ants
Always open | Free