Oban, the “little bay”. The very mention of the name invokes a warm rush of nostalgia swimming into my mind’s-eye. Vivid visions of chip-chasing seagulls whirling in the crystal sky above the bustling harbour bay, saffron sunsets over the Firth of Lorn and a malty dram sipped before a slip into a contented slumber.

My attachment to Oban harks back to my bairns’ early years when every other summer, we would take the scenic drive up from Glasgow through some of the most visually satisfying Scottish landscapes. Marvelling at the splendour of the Trossachs, Strath Fillan and Glen Lochy along the way, the tantalising first glimpse of the Connel bridge signalling our imminent arrival.

The wider region of Argyll has always been important to me as a landscape photographer. You are spoiled for choice there, with so many captivating vistas to record for posterity. There are lush glens lined with ancient Scots pine and leafy oak, magnificent rivers rushing below mighty mountain ranges and mysterious castles steeped in lore, not to mention numerous coastal communities perched on the ocean’s edge and golden crescents of pale sand that glimmer during sunset strolls.

The Highland Holidays park is located a short drive south from the town’s main ferry terminal along the old Gallanach road and enjoys an elevated position with sumptuous views along the eastern edge of the Isle of Kerrera. On arrival we immediately called by the reception cabin (that doubles as a well stocked convenience shop with all the essentials from snacks and beverages to more familiar household items you might need for prolonged stays) and with a warm welcome, and the keys handed over, we retired to our designated lodge to unpack and make our plans for the coming days.

I guess I might have held pre-conceptions of earlier times spent in caravans and cabins as to what to expect, but our accommodation was a delight to behold. First impressions were a reactive blurt of “wow” and “amazing”, (“wowmazing” if you will). The interior decor was tastefully applied with modern furnishings in soft greys, pale cream and woody browns and the feeling of space completely contradicted the exterior estimation, offering an almost Tardis-like level befuddlement.

As well as a comfortably sumptuous ensuite double bedroom, we had at our disposal a fully kitted kitchen area with all mod-cons adjacent to a dining area and a roomy lounge looking out to a rear decking with rattan patio set, and more importantly, the long-anticipated hot-tub. Highland Holidays’ parks are renowned for their inclusion of these as an option when booking and after the long drive we were more than happy to indulge in this luxury installation.

The Herald: The Oban Holiday Park lodges offer luxury and bonnie viewsThe Oban Holiday Park lodges offer luxury and bonnie views (Image: Damian Shields)

Languishing warm beneath the stars with a glass of fizz (plastic glassware supplied), bubbling jets of water caressing my weary frame with only the distant rumble of seaward traffic out in the crisp November evening as a soundtrack was a little slice of heaven.

After a refreshing night’s sleep and a quick breakfast we embarked on the day’s plan to explore the Isle of Kerrera with Gylen Castle as our final destination. This venerable tower was constructed by the Clan MacDougall in 1582 and commands a spectacular south-western panorama across the firth of Lorn to Seil and Mull. The wee CalMac ferry (easily pre-booked online) embarks not far up the Gallanach road and only takes minutes to reach the opposite jetty on Kerrera. The low winter sun made for a dramatic coastal walk, the landscape suffused by golden light glittering over the calm waters and saturating the tree-lines and hillsides with autumnal hues. The last leg of our walk took us uphill and inland before dropping down again to the shoreline beneath the castle, standing proud on the dramatic cliffs above.

Sadly, we were denied a visit to the nearby tea-room (it being out of season) but were entertained by the colourful ceramic teapots stationed along the walk.

As a long-time beneficiary of the “Uisge beatha” I was inevitably compelled to make a pilgrimage to Oban’s most significant landmark so a tour was booked online for the world-renowned distillery. One of the oldest, and smallest in Scotland, this facility was established in 1749 and Oban itself evolved as a town around its production and export. Our dram-savvy guide took us through the fascinating process from raw materials to cask finishing with a wee sample or two to lubricate the way and I was especially impressed by their green credentials in recycling and carbon neutrality.

The Herald: Oban DistilleryOban Distillery (Image: Damian Shields)

Another institution we visited was the Oban Inn. My last visit to the area had found it in the middle of a prolonged closure so it was heartening to see its doors open once more, the interiors still redolent of auld with the splendid addition of a swanky outdoor patio area for some salty banter in the sea air.

During our stay we also took the time to explore the holiday park and were delighted by the stroll up the hill behind to visit the site’s family of Highland coos enjoying a “field with a view”. We also had a good vantage point here to consider the lie of the land. Highland Holidays cater for campers, caravans and mobile homes and the various plots are well laid out for seclusion and space.

The aforementioned views and peaceful environment are wonderful and the on-site staff were welcoming aw well as genuinely, and rightly, proud, of the place. The park also has a premium collection of hot-tub lodges for sale and we were allowed the opportunity to have a wee nosey.

Once again, the tasteful and luxurious interior design really impressed with its clever use of floor-space and all with bonnie views over the sound of Kerrera. There’s so much to do in and around Oban with every day a succession of magical moments that linger long in the mind and Oban Holiday Park is the perfect place to return to at the end of each day.

Travel Facts:

Oban Holiday Park
Gallanachmore Farm
Gallanach Road
PA34 4QH 
0333 188 1930

Email: oban@highlandholidays.com

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