Home Farm sits in private woodland in a glen behind Oban. Walking into town takes twenty easy minutes across a golf course or along a country road. Those staying with us don’t have to rely on a car to get about - making life simple for groups who might perhaps want to do different things during any given day. You can come and go independently, whilst always feeling nicely secluded and away from it all when at the house. There are plenty of supermarkets in town for a big shop, and some great little independent stores and spots to eat along the bay.
Much of the Inner Hebrides can be accessed on ferries from Oban. Lots has been written about Mull, and Iona beyond. But beautiful, green-bursting Kerrera is just five minutes across the water on a little ferry from Port Gallanach. No cars are allowed for non-residents (around 50 people live on the island) so it’s a safe place to stroll or cycle. Along one slate-beached shore are the remains of a castle that so struck the painter Turner when he visited in 1831 that he dazedly filled a whole sketchpad trying to capture its romance. Pods of dolphins play in the clear waters around. Take a picnic – the one café is not always open.
Little-visited, marvellously mystical. Nell is an inland Loch ('Loch of the Swans') just a short drive from the house, with clear, dark water and views up to the sharp peak of Ben Cruachan. Picts sailed the bodies of Kings along this slim stretch of water and the land around the Loch is full of sacred sites - burial cairns, standing stones. In the early mornings especially, mist rises from the surface to the sad cry of pink-footed geese.
Argyll is studded with many impressive castles but Stalker has the edge. Since 1322 it has risen sharp and high out of Loch Laich like a granite exclamation mark and from certain angles seems to hover above the water. The name comes from the gaelic for ‘falconer’ and stories about various murdered clan chiefs living in the castle down the centuries are absurdly filmic. One Lord of Lorn was stabbed on his way to church to be married, crawling to the alter for the (brief) ceremony. Port Appin is round the corner, overlooking the Lynn of Lorn - a misty, dreamy strait off the island of Lismore.
Two miles north of Oban - beyond Dunollie castle but not as far as the main public beach at Ganavan - is a smaller cove with shallow water, and pale sand dotted by oyster catchers. The view from here is really special : sunsets on warm evenings are red as spreading fire. After a deluge, expect multiple rainbows curving over the island of Lismore just across the water. Walk beyond the public beach at Ganavan and up along the rocks that hug the coast - the thistle and wild flowers thickly padding the stones are especially pretty. Seals bob in the water.
A great local nickname for Dunollie Woods that cover the sea cliffs beyond town. Perhaps called the Witches because some of the trees here are over 400 years old and have been contorted by brutal coastal winds. Or perhaps because the clan chief Duncan MacDougall employed a coven of witches to help him escape a murder charge in 1597 (and it worked! But then, the witches of Lorn were known to be the most powerful in Argyll.) Drop down from the woods before you reach the castle and see the Dog Stone where the giant Fingal tethered his deerhound Bran - an immense sea-stack in the middle of a field, feathered with trees and studded down its sides with stones that look like barnacles.
Surely one of the most moving examples of public art anywhere in the world. Oban’s cenotaph was carved out of sandstone in 1923 by the great Scottish sculptor Alexander Carrick and depicts two kilted Highland infantrymen carrying a comrade to safety. It’s some 100 years old but the expressions on the faces of the soldiers are still hauntingly clear - especially the one to the right, who seems completely lost in folorn thought. We love the energy in the carved fingers on the hands of the wounded man - you can feel his determination to cling. to life. This is a much appreciated memorial, locally. Many Obanites regularly walk along the shore from town, down the esplanade to pay respects. As you approach, the whole carved group forms a powerful huddle that seems to impersonate the rolling hills on Mull behind.