The beautiful Isle of Mull and the view from my hotel bedroom window.
Last month I turned 40!! I knew that I wanted to be in Scotland for my birthday so I went off to the Highlands...to the stunning town of Oban, on the west coast. I had never been to that part of the Highlands before and I quickly fell in love with the place. Oban in November is on the far side of chilly...it was bloody freezing to be honest, but I had the great joy of waking up to snow on my first morning and seeing the mountains covered, snowy white and blending seamlessly into the snow laden sky above. Of course, I felt like I was in Narnia and as I have never seen Scotland in snow before, I couldn't have wished for a more perfect birthday gift...a visit from the Cailleach, just for me.
The snow melted swiftly and the rest of the week was bright blue winter skies, the odd rain shower and gusty coastal winds. I loved it. I walked by the sea each day, made friends with 3 dogs, 2 swans and a whole flock of sea gulls, and spent time dreaming and meandering around. Sadly, the weather was so rough that the ferries were cancelled so I couldn't take a trip out to Mull or any of the islands, but Oban itself was a pretty place and the locals were friendly. I also visited Fort William, Inverary and Gretna Green.
|"As strong as you were...brave as you go...I'm watching you breathing for the last time and I'll carry you home" Lyrics by James Blunt and the song that breaks my heart every time I hear it.|
There is a Bruce named upon this War Memorial, Oban.
|Flower decked Soul Anchor in Oban Memorial Gardens...the sea is behind me as I took this photo.|
Because Oban is a sea port there is a very peaceful Memorial Garden that looks out over Oban Bay. There is both a soldier's war monument and also a Soul Anchor - that is, a monument to those who left Oban Bay and were lost at sea. Soul Anchors are often seen in coastal towns and they are said to anchor lost souls to the coastline, between land and sea, thereby giving them a place of rest. They are the maritime equivalent to The Unknown Soldier monuments.
|Dunolly Castle stands guard at the Gateway to the Islands.|
Oban was a very romantic place with rough seas and the endless cries of the gulls creating a mournful soundscape. The colours are at times vibrant, sometimes water-colour but always beautiful and there is a peace and solitude to the area that greatly appealed to me. I found myself wondering what it must have been like to live in this castle, right on the coast, with the Islanders as neighbours and the mountains standing sentry. It was a marvelous way to turn 40 and I am so glad I chose to visit a part of the Highlands that is totally fresh and new to me...it was the breath of fresh air I needed and I will certainly go back there again.
In the meantime, my Bruce progress around Scotland will continue with a visit to another part of the country I've not yet seen. I am considering Aberdeen, Dundee or perhaps a stay on one of the Islands. I haven't quite decided yet, so I need to ponder on it some more...