Back on the road to Arduaine! We have now left Loch Creran behind and are making our way down to the Sound of Kerrera and the Connel Bridge. For those wanting to stretch their legs in the hills, climbing up to Beinn Lora from the village of Bendeloch provides fantastic views of both Argyll and the Highlands. The path is clear and easy to follow until the last mile which is rougher and much steeper. The walk takes about 2 and 1/2 hours.
If walking up steep hills isn’t your thing, there is an excellent cycle path along the coastal path which also happens to be mercifully flat. So you can exercise without too much strain and this is a very nice way to enjoy the coastal landscapes away from the car for a bit.
Back on the road through Benderloch, you will catch a glimpse of St Modan’s Church with its quirky architecture and round turrets. You can also get a cup of coffee and have a browse in the nearby Ben Lova Café and Bookshop. It’s always nice to take a break en route.
The road then winds its way over to Connel Bridge, which crosses Loch Etive at the Falls of Lora. This listed steel structure was built in 1903, originally for rail, and it looks a bit like a smaller version of the Forth Bridge. Watch the tidal currents underneath as you cross the bridge, the water creates beautiful swirls. The scenery around this crossing is also stunning and worth a quick break for some photos.
The coastal road then continues to meander its way towards Oban, passing the Oyster Inn (excellent fish restaurant), small bays and headlands across the Firth of Lorne. It’s difficult to keep your eyes on the road with such beautiful scenery around you so make sure you stop regularly.
A great place to take a break is Poppies Garden Centre, at Saulmore Shore. Poppies is situated just next to a bird nesting area and you can walk down to the shore from the car park, take in the views over to Dunstaffnage Castle, Marina and the Firth of Lorne, and watch the birds. There is also a very nice restaurant/café there for more cake treats. Definitely worth a stopover.
Dunstaffnage Castle overlooks the bay of the same name. Its history, since its construction in 1220, is tied in with the wars of independence in the late 13th and early 14th century. It was one of the MacDougall Clan’s castles to be fought over in the war against Robert the Bruce and, like other castles in the area, it fell into Campbell Clan hands in the 15th century. In the nearby woodland, you will find the remains of a 13th century chapel, a slightly eery but beautiful site. The castle is open to visitors for a fee most of the year.
From Dunstaffnage Castle, you can walk down across the woodland along the cliffs, past the Scottish Marine Institute, and down onto coastal grassland and slightly more rocky paths onto Ganavan Hill. The view is spectacular there, the path slightly less so, but the proximity of black guillemots and ringed plovers makes the effort worthwhile. You can take in views inland to Ben Cruachan and out to sea towards to the island of Kerrera. This is a really lovely walk and only a few miles out of Oban.
As you come into Oban, you can see the whole harbour and the town beyond. We could spend a while telling you about Oban (and in another post, we will), but we will stop here to let you go and enjoy one of the town’s lovely seafront restaurants.
Catch up soon for the final part of our coastal road trip to Arduaine.