fore our Ben Nevis hike, Lucas and I had a day to spend in Oban. We’d journeyed up form Cumbria to Loch Lomond, had a seriously good curry and then had a day to make the 2-3 hour journey from Loch Lomond to Fort William. Because I can’t stand having an unused day, I booked us onto a boat tour from Oban that visited the isles of Mull, Iona and Staffa. It was a gorgeous day out, my only disappointment was that we had booked it too late in the season to see puffins. We booked our tour though West Coast Tours, and it worked really well. Essentially, they book you on the public transit required along with a boat tour to Staffa and a bus ride across mull, and you’re free to explore otherwise.
Note: Parking in Oban is nearly impossible, so allow plenty of time to find some. We attempted to park in 3 different lots, finding that each lot didn’t accept cards (as of August bank holiday) OR NEW POUND COINS, only old pound coins. So after trying and failing to exchange my new pound coins for old pound coins in a shop, we were directed to the free parking by the large Tesco which isn’t too far a walk from the waterfront.
We set sail on the large ferry to Mull first, which left us with hazy views of Oban and a light rain. Fortunately, the day cleared up as we arrived on Mull. We were herded to our tour bus, and our driver provided interesting commentary about life on Mull and local wildlife as we drove along. I do wish that we’d had more time to explore Mull ourselves, but there was no way to do that and visit all the islands in one day.
From the far side of Mull, we caught a boat tour to Staffa, which is famous for it’s basalt columns and Fingalls cave. The legend of Fingal’s cave ties into the myths of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, and the formations are very similar. We were given an hour to climb into the cave and around the island, fortunately it was a beautiful day, there’s no where besides the cave to escape the rain!
After that, it was onward to Iona, famous for it’s abbey and it’s famous resident, St. Columba who spent a lot of time there. The abbey is interesting to visit as are the ruins of the old nunnery. We learned why Celtic Crosses often have circles between the arms…and it’s because otherwise when built out of stone they are unstable. Yay structural engineering! We had a large and delicious scone and wandered around the beautiful and peaceful island. Then it was back to Mull, and finally to Oban, where we headed north for the last leg of our journey.