The Trouble with Oban

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A few days ago I wrote about my disappointment with Oban. I found it to be a bit of a let down, probably because my expectations were so high. However when I look at this picture I took, I realise why that reputation exists. This photo is stunning, here Oban looks idyllic and inviting. I think the trouble arises because although this is a beautiful angle and view of the harbour, it’s what you can’t see that more explains my original opinion. Behind me, if you turn and look, what you’ll see is a very normal small seaside town. Apart from an interesting stone building up on a hill there really was nothing of note about the rest of Oban. Yet if you went and sat and stared out at this lovely spot, you would obviously recognise that in amongst the normality there are slices of picturesque charm dotted around.

Maybe my complaint is that I had to work hard for my touristic enjoyment and if I think about it that seems a poor way to judge a place. I wouldn’t like to think of myself as lazy, maybe Oban is telling me that I shouldn’t take a place for granted just because its charm doesn’t jump out and smack me in the face. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder then that places the responsibility firmly at my feet to actively engage with my environment rather than just experience it in passing, never really connecting with it on a deeper level.

Or maybe Oban is just a bit overrated and the good publicity simply drives capital to the area, but that would be a very cynical way to think about it in my opinion!

Loch Skipport

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Not only are there some extremely cute Eriskay ponies at Loch Skipport, there is also one of the best views on South Uist to enjoy. This was a fabulous spot for a picnic – peaceful and serene and a sumptuous view to behold.

Scotland is the only place in the UK to allow wild camping – there’s some great nooks and crannies along this way where we saw people pitching up and camping amongst the shelter of big rocks. An amazing place to wake up in the morning, especially if you’ve managed to avoid the rain!

All Aboard The Jacobite

I finally got the chance to go on a steam train and managed to do so by travelling on one of the most famous and beautiful railway lines in the world. The Jacobite runs between Fort William and Mallaig and the Glenfinnan viaduct it crosses over was immortalised in the Harry Potter films. It’s an 84 mile round trip passing through some of the most beautiful areas of the whole UK not just Scotland; I would definitely recommend it. See the above link for lots more info and booking details.

Mallaig Bay isn’t overly interesting so I would recommend using the 2 hour stop-gap to take an hour boat trip out to see the coast, before returning to grab some local seafood and catch the train back to Fort William. If you catch this train on a sunny day I can’t imagine you’ll ever be disappointed!

Panoramic Beauty at Castle Stalker

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A truly beautiful viewpoint of Castle Stalker, not far from Oban on the West Coast of Scotland.

I found Oban to be a bit of an anti-climax, possibly due to so much ‘hype’ surrounding the area. Sometimes I think high expectations really are the death blow to many an experience – it’s built up so much in advance the reality never has a chance of living up to the expectation. I’d been told numerous times about Oban’s beauty and that it was a ‘must see’ place on the West coast; however when we arrived although pretty, it looked a lot like many other small harbour towns I’d been to. I think some of its charm comes from taking a boat out and seeing the harbour and the outcrop islands from afar on the way back; however, as we arrived and left by car we missed this important aspect of the experience. It’s also the gateway to the Inner and Outer Hebrides so is of particular importance geographically speaking. But it’s still a pretty harbour town much like many others in my opinion – if you visit I would suggest taking the boat out and seeing Oban properly.

We left slightly disappointed and continued up the coast to Fort William. On the way this incredible beauty spot more than made up for Oban! There’s a proper viewpoint from the road with a cafe and as you can see there’s some amazing views from up here. We never went to the castle but it is open at certain times of the year (see the above link for more info).

The Eriskay Ponies of Loch Skipport

Some very friendly Eriskay Ponies came to say hello today at Loch Skipport, South Uist. They enjoy some stunning views and further down the track was the most beautiful cove I’ve seen on the Isles so far. I’ll be posting those pictures as soon as I can access them but for now I thought this cheerful face would make people smile!

Since I came home I’ve been told by my friend from Uist that these are very tame but still wild ponies. Wild horses and ponies seem so rare these days it feels like an extra treat to have seen some. Especially this small variety with their exceptionally cute foal (photos to follow soon)!

I had originally called these shetland ponies in this post but apparently they are thought to be the Eriskay variety although they seem slightly smaller in size so this is still being debated (or so I’m told).

Panoramic views at the local play-park on South Uist 

 This play park has definitely won the ‘best view from the slide’ competition! Found tucked away on South Uist and there was lots of fun for the wee monkey today here. 

The Wild West Coast of Scotland

 

It definitely hasn’t been the wildest weather the West Coast has seen, but it’s been pretty wild for us up in the Outer Hebrides! The views are absolutely stunning when the sun shines. However it’s difficult to photographically convey the gale force winds we’re getting from the Atlantic when the landscape is as bleak as this.  As soon as we open the front door of the car door we have to grab hold of something to steady ourselves and it’s howling through the roof at night… Very exciting stay so far! 

These pictures are of a spectacular beach on Benbecula and our view from our second Hebridean holiday home on North Uist. I’m still just publishing my iphone 6+ photos as I can’t access my RAW images until I get home. I’m pretty impressed with the quality so far though, especially considering the phone nearly blew out of my hand on the second image and the first was taken through a moving car window! 

 

Creative Gardening on North Uist

 I imagine there’s quite a lot of creative gardens in the Outer Hebrides due to their peat-bog nature. It’s been an unusual landscape for me and I’ve had to get used to a view without many trees; however I’ve come to really love the slightly bleak and desolate Isle’s. They come with their own special character and I’ve actually found it very relaxing to be here. For the first time in my life I’m relishing the silence instead of compulsively surrounding myself with noise and chaos in the city. 

This photo was taken outside Langass Lodge, which I’m informed is the place to go for local seafood. 

 

Isle of Benbecula 

 
After a rainy trip through Skye, a rainy ferry ride and a rainy drive through North Uist, we finally arrived on Benbecula. The clouds parted and we discovered this stunning view out of the kitchen window. Just glorious! 

The Jacobite: West Coast Adventures In Scotland

 I’m finally off on my adventure up the West Coast of Scotland. I’ve lived here for 5 years whilst conpleting my degree, but I’ve never managed to properly explore the true beauty  of the West Coast.

It’s slightly cliched but also very true that you can’t come to Glasgow or Edinburgh and assume you’ve ‘seen Scotland’. Our adventure starts at Fort William on The Jacobite steam train, then today we head to Skye and will eventually end up in the Outer Hebrides on Benbecula. 

I’ve finally starting shoot be in RAW and this will be my first opportunity to really concentrate on my photography. However I won’t be able to access and edit all those photos for a couple of weeks; so in the meantime I thought I’d post a few I’ve taken with the iPhone 6 so I can share the beauty with you all before then!