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Highland cows, castle ruins and unknown islands on a family trip to Oban

With plenty to see and do, and lots of island hopping available, Oban is an ideal location for a family holiday.

Imagine opening your doors to this view every morning of your holiday.
Imagine opening your doors to this view every morning of your holiday.

Autumn is a fantastic time to take a short break in Scotland, especially when the weather behaves itself.

As a family, we always look forward to exploring somewhere different during the October holidays, and this year we chose Oban as our base for a few days in a self-catering lodge.

We’ve visited friends in Oban before but never spent much time there, and we discovered the area has a lot to offer. From exhilarating boat rides to the freshest seafood, there is plenty to suit all tastes.

There is also a varied range of accommodation to choose from, and our home from home was an amazing lodge at Highland Holidays’ Oban Holiday Park, a couple of miles outside the bustling town.

How about this for a view as you prepare a meal in the modern kitchen?

Total luxury with beautiful views

Forget any notion of cramped caravans, our lodge was the last word in luxury.

We were blown away by the size and spec of the accommodation. The large double bedroom boasted its own shower room and toilet, and even had a separate dressing area. The shower was twice the size of our own at home and had piping hot water the entire stay.

The second bedroom had two very comfortable single beds for the kids, and a further separate toilet and shower room was a great bonus.

The large, wide living area had lots of seating and a big LED TV on the wall, while the modern kitchen came with a dishwasher, oven and everything else you could wish for.

A welcome area at the front door offered great storage space for boots and bags as well as a washing machine, which was very handy.

With such a solid and stylish structure, the lodge felt like a home from home.

A big dining table with six chairs offered a great space for eating as a family, and the plush carpets added to the luxurious feel of the accommodation.

And all that was before we stepped out on to the balcony where a hot tub was waiting for us offering wonderful views over the Sound of Kerrera.

We loved relaxing in the tub and watching the little ferry cross over to Kerrera and back and decided that would be our adventure for our first full day.

The little ferry to Kerrera carries a maximum of 12 passengers.

Over the sea to Kerrera

Operated by CalMac, the ferry can be booked online and operates fairly regularly from a little jetty just a mile from the holiday park.

It was a nice day when we travelled and there were so many people wanting to see the island we had to wait for the ferry to make several return trips before there was space for us. However, as the journey is only five minutes, this wasn’t a problem.

The crossing was great fun and offered outstanding views – I’d have loved it to have taken longer.

The scenic crossing from Gallanach, near Oban, to Kerrera takes a mere five minutes.

Once on the island there are a couple of routes you can take but we decided to walk to Gylen Castle on the southern tip. There is a tearoom there as well but thankfully we knew it was closed for the season so took a picnic with us.

The walk to the castle is about 3.5 miles and involves a few steep climbs, but it was more than worth it. The wildlife on show was fantastic and we watched as a bird of prey circled overhead looking for a spot of lunch.

When we reached the castle we were delighted to find it in reasonable shape, so much so you can go inside and climb to the first floor. The views were incredible, looking south towards the Slate Islands and Colonsay, and also over to neighbouring Mull.

Gylen Castle on Kerrera is well worth the hike to get there, and look at those views.

Castle’s history reads like a real-life Game of Thrones

We were able to read about the detailed history of the castle and tried to imagine what life would have been like there in the 16th and 17th Centuries.

Beautiful little bays lie either side of the castle and look like they’d be perfect for a swim when the weather is warmer. But we definitely didn’t fancy it in October.

Retracing our steps towards the ferry we paid a quick visit to the farm shop where we were welcomed by a friendly Collie who loved running for sticks.

The kids enjoyed some homemade ice cream and we browsed the nice selection of postcards, hand-knitted hats and fresh meat from the farm.

The return ferry was quieter and we loved our little jaunt back across the water where it was definitely hot tub time to soak our weary legs after a great day walking on Kerrera.

The island feels like a bit of a hidden gem to me and I would thoroughly recommend a visit.

The view from above the holiday park looking over the Sound of Kerrera.

Oban has it all going on

The following day we toyed with the idea of taking a wildlife boat trip but chose to stay local and visit the brilliantly named Atlantis leisure centre in Oban.

This is a fantastic facility and clearly very popular.

We didn’t visit its swimming pool, but instead had a family game of badminton and the kids did some bouldering in the dedicated climbing-wall room.

Having worked up an appetite I only had one thing on my mind and that was a trip to the Oban Seafood Hut at the harbour. I knew this would be a treat having visited before.

The pretty harbour front at  Oban.

My son and I ordered a portion of mussels in white wine and garlic sauce, which was cooked in front of us, and some lovely langoustines in a butter sauce. Both dishes were delicious.

A little later, the four of us bought some fish and chips and ate them looking out to sea as the sun set on the harbour. A simple but beautiful pleasure, and one that will stay with us for a long time.

We ended our holiday with one last soak in the hot tub, gazing up at the star-filled sky and enjoying the complete silence that comes with staying in the countryside.

The perfect end to a wonderful week.

Darkness falls over Oban Harbour.
The park has its own Highland cows that you’ll meet if you wander the grounds.
Travel facts

Oban Holiday Park
Gallanachmore Farm
Gallanach Road
PA34 4QH

Call: 0333 188 1930

As well as luxury hot tub lodges to rent and buy, Oban Holiday Park welcomes motorhomes and campers. See the website for more details.

Oban Holiday Park