Travelling north of the border is a joy whatever the time of year and our trip in late February proved to be no exception. I have always been of the opinion that the journey is a part of any trip and not just a means to an end.
Our journey to Oban led us through the most wonderful scenery. The rolling hills of the Forest of Bowland and the rugged hills of Cumbria were just two scenic delights on our way to the Scottish border. Looking out at the snow capped hills of the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District – coupled with the bright blue skies above – did much to distract from the tedium of a long trip up the M6!
Leaving the motorway at Glasgow, we crossed the Erskine Bridge and followed the A82 north past Loch Lomond. One of the joys of travelling at this time of the year is that the roads are quiet, and you have the time to take in the stunning scenery. A coffee stop at the very picturesque conservation village of Luss allowed us to really appreciate the wonderful views and to feed the ducks at the loch side!
We decided to take a somewhat meandering route to Oban and opted to drive along Loch Awe. Leaving Luss we headed north on the A83, taking us along the shores of Loch Lomond and giving splendid views of Ben Lomond covered in snow. Our next stop was Inveraray. This is the traditional county town of Argyll & Bute and sits attractively on the shore of Loch Fyne.
The impressive castle – home to the Dukes of Argyll and the iconic Armoury Hall – is well worth a visit. At the opposite end of the social spectrum is Inveraray Goal and Court Room. This is a very well preserved complex, including a Torture, Death & Damnation exhibition and some ‘interactive’ activities! Costumed guides give a fascinating insight into the justice system in the 19th century. A must see for old and young alike.
Leaving Inveraray we headed for Loch Awe taking the A819 to Cladich and then the B840, a single-track road that follows the shore of the loch south towards Ford. Drivers need to make sure they observe the courtesies of using passing places to allow overtaking and drive respectfully. This is a truly wonderful route. The views over Loch Awe are beautiful – helped by the fact that the trees are not in leaf at this time of the year. The loch is a favourite with anglers and tourists alike and I can see why – its tranquillity and beauty speak for themselves.
At the southern end of the loch we joined the A816 and headed to Oban. The views across to Jura, Scaraba & Luing in the late afternoon sunshine were stunning. The approach to Oban is as striking now as it was to travellers in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is easy to see why the panoramic views of the mountains, lochs and islands have inspired and enthralled writers, artists, composers and tourists, for centuries. Oban is perfectly situated on a sheltered bay and is known as the gateway to the Isles. Ferries can be seen carrying tourists and locals alike to the islands of the Inner Hebrides.
Whatever the season, the Scottish landscape is both spectacular and awe inspiring. The wide-open spaces, fresh air and tranquillity are not to be missed. An ‘out of season’ trip is most definitely worth consideration. Wrap up warmly, dust off your walking boots and head out to enjoy some of the best scenery the United Kingdom has to offer.
Our next stop was north to the Isle of Skye…but that’s another story.
by Annie Johnson