Summary: From Kerrera to Kerrera. 14.2 miles in 3 hours 30 minutes.
We set off this morning with no particular destination in mind, but with the possibility of heading to Loch Aline for the night or perhaps Tobermory if the weather held. We had a great sail across to Mull and through the channel between Lady’s Rock and Eilean Musdile, but once through the mist came down and the wind died. With the further prospect of heavy rain after lunch, we heard the irresistible attractions of Oban faintly calling and so headed back round and sailed slowly back across to Kerrera. We considered circumnavigating Kerrera, but the wind died even further, so we just headed back round the north of the island to Oban Marina. We were rewarded on the way back with the fantastic sight of a pod of dolphins that appeared to be herding a shoal of fish (and then obviously eating them!). The water was bubbling as the dolphins twisted and jumped all over the place – a magnificent sight.
Once back in Oban Marina, the rain came down exactly when forecast and so we headed on the ferry over to Oban. To stretch our legs we went for a quick (wet) walk up to McCaig’s Tower. This unique structure was commissioned (and designed) by the philanthropic banker John McCaig as a memorial to his family. McCaig (who also described himself as a philosophical essayist) was a great admirer of Greek and Roman culture and so designed his tower to be like the Colosseum in Rome. It is an impressive structure, though the Colosseum won’t be feeling too threatened! As well as acting as a memorial to his family, McCaig’s intention was to provide work for local stonemasons in the winter months. The original plans included a central tower and space for a museum and art gallery, but he died before his vision was realised and now only the outer walls are complete. The tower stands in a commanding position above the town with potentially great views. I say potentially because the best way to describe the weather was perhaps mizzle – a suitably onomatopoeic word for the muggy, drizzly and soggy air. We didn’t linger long to admire the views that weren’t there.
To dry off and revive ourselves we went on a tour round the Oban Distillery. The distillery is unusual in being in the middle of the town and still produces around a million bottles a year. The distillery opened in 1794 and has changed hands several times, now being owned by Diageo. They produce just two whiskies – a 14 year old Malt and a ‘Distiller’s edition. The initial maturing of the whisky (though it can’t be called whisky until it is at least 3 years old!) is done in American Bourbon barrels which the Americans are only allowed to use once, so they sell them on to Scotland for whisky production. The flavours of the Whisky are apparently ‘sea-salt’ and ‘honey’, but from an initial tasting we weren’t sure we could detect these, so, purely in the name of research, we bought a bottle to continue the hunt.
We rounded off the day with an excellent meal in the Waypoint Bar and Grill – all cooked outside in a tent by the chef, but served in a nice cosy log cabin style area. The restaurant is only open May to November, so we need to wait till next season to test it again.