The drive from Edinburgh to Oban was one of the most magnificent visual experiences I’ve ever had and I’ve been to some magnificent scenic places in the world. Much of it is on two lane roads so I would recommend not renting a mammoth car. Even our small diesel Nissan SUV was a bit dicey on these roads although we saw many locals driving minivans and squeezing through passes. For those of us who have to concentrate alone on driving on the opposite side of the road, I would limit the challenges however by picking a smallish car.
Along the way, there are amazing sites to see including the Kelpies near Falkirk. They are giant sculptures of the heads of Scottish horses called Kelpies and at night can be lit in various color combinations. They are breathtaking even if one is not a horse fanatic.
Keep driving and along the narrow roads you will suddenly see a sign “View” and underneath “Castle Stalker Cafe.” Do stop and have a cup of tea along with a homemade pie or scone. The gift shop has lovely art books and prints of The Highlands as well as a nature walk if you really need to stretch your legs. The view includes the Castle Stalker which is still privately owned but does have a limited amount of tours in the summer season. It is a restored keep on a tiny island off the coast of Appin on Loch Laich which is an inlet of Loch Linnhe. Then keep driving to Oban.
Oban is a coastal town bustling with activity. It calls itself the “seafood capital of Scotland” and has a large number of boats docked in the center to support the idea that it is a seafaring community. Through sheer good luck and Booking.com, we stayed at a place called Knipoch House which is 6 miles outside the town of Oban. This is a do not miss stop although you have to book in advance since it is popular amongst the cognoscenti and among Scots (a great sign). The staff is wonderful, the rooms are large with modern bathrooms and towel warmers (one of my favorite things), the food is great and the view breathtaking. It sits overlooking Loch Feochan and is run by the family that has been associated with the private home since the 1500s. It was remodeled and turned into a hotel in 1981.
And yet again in Scotland we were served exquisite food. As with our meals before, we found the kitchen at Knipoch to be focused on fresh local produce; therefore we had fresh shrimp with avocado salad and fresh mussels for starters and then amazing local beef and fish for the main course. For the first time ever on this trip I learned that I loved beets – they were so fresh and simply cooked that the past tasting of over vinegared or canned beets washed away from my palate. Dessert looked great but was not an option because we had eaten so much already.
For the first time, we had a proper Scottish breakfast – eggs, Scottish bacon (much like our Canadian bacon but better), sausage, kippers, tomato and mushrooms. Before the hot meal, one has a choice of porridge, yogurt and granola, fresh fruit and juices. It is a feast. The eggs were local -as was everything else. It was with regret that we left having only booked one night and extending our stay was not an option due to the full capacity!
On to Dornoch and the North driving by the infamous Loch Ness!