Experience more this spring! Make Oban your base for a Scottish island-hopping adventure
Spring is a fantastic time of year to visit Argyll’s islands. The days are long, the weather’s often good and there’s flora and fauna aplenty. Oban, known as ‘The Gateway to the Isles’, is the perfect place to base yourself. CalMac, Scotland’s largest ferry operator, provides an extensive service from this vibrant coastal town. Set sail to the Inner and Outer Hebrides or take a boat trip to visit the myriad fascinating islands that sit off the coast of Lorn. The journey to the islands is part of the pleasure, with stunning views and the chance to get up close to Argyll’s sensational sea life. So, if you want to experience more, make a date with Oban and discover Argyll’s islands.
Mull & Iona
For many visitors to Oban, a trip to Mull & Iona is a highlight of their holiday. Mull is diverse island, famed for the towering peak of Ben More, sandy beaches and a rich cultural life. Look out for the island’s famous white-tailed eagles soaring overhead. Beautiful Iona sits less than a mile off the south western-most tip of Mull. This tiny island, a cradle of Christianity in Great Britain, is a place of pilgrimage for many. The ruins of the medieval abbey and nunnery are utterly absorbing. The ferry from Oban to Mull takes around 40 minutes, so is do-able as a day trip from Oban. Head to the Ross of Mull to catch the passenger-only ferry to Iona.
Coll & Tiree
These western-most isles of the Inner Hebrides are magical places, each with something different to offer. The journey to Coll takes around 2 hours 30 minutes. Watch out for dolphins, porpoises, basking sharks and whales on the way – this is prime cetacean-spotting territory. The ferry from Coll to Tiree takes around another hour. Tiree, with its stunning beaches, is known as the ‘Hawaii of the North’ and offers world-class surfing and windsurfing.
Colonsay & Oronsay
These lovely islands are known as the ‘jewels of the Hebrides’. You’ll find golden beaches, incredible wildlife and fascinating archaeological sites as you explore them. This spring Colonsay is hosting two events - Colonsay Book Festival (28th to 29th April 2018) and Colonsay SpringFest (30th April to 20th May). They’re a great way to experience the island. The CalMac ferry to Colonsay runs five times a week (in winter three times) from Oban. Unless you really need it, why not leave your car behind? Colonsay is a brilliant island for cycling and bikes go free on the ferry. You can walk across to Oronsay from Colonsay at low tide. It’s about two miles each way and you’ll need to check the tides carefully.
Kerrera & Lismore
Kerrera is Oban’s closest island neighbour and can be seen from most parts of the town. The ferry journey from Oban to Kerrera takes just a few minutes. It’s a fabulous island to explore on foot or by bike, with quiet roads, stunning scenery and a dramatic ruined castle. Lismore is another nearby island that’s well worth the short ferry journey. It’s only ten miles long, so easily explored by bike.
The Isle of Seil lies some 12 miles south of Oban and is separated from the mainland by a sea channel which is spanned by the humpback Clachan Bridge, also known as the 'Bridge over the Atlantic'. Seil is a lovely island to explore and has a fascinating history. From Seil you can catch the small passenger-only ferry to Easdale, which lies about 200 metres off the coast. You can also reach Island of Luing from North Cuan on the southerly tip of Seil. Here you’ll find the Atlantic Islands Centre which tells the story of these diverse and fascinating Atlantic isles.
Oban is a bustling town, with plenty to see and do and some fantastic places to eat. Known as ‘Scotland’s Seafood Capital’, it’s the place to sample fresh seafood. You could also take a tour of Oban Distillery and discover Dunollie. Head north to visit two picturesque peninsulas – Benderloch and Appin – and see Castle Stalker, one of Argyll’s most romantic castles.