We woke up to a sunny day in Oban, and after a nice breakfast of kedgeree (smoked haddock and curried rice) we went up the hill to McCaig’s Tower. It’s not really a tower, though. It was built in 1897 by a local banker who wanted a Roman colosseum-style monument to his family and also to provide the local stonemason’s with work during the winter months. In the middle there was going to be an art museum and tower. He died with only the outer wall constructed, and his family decided not to complete it. We’re glad for that, as it’s now a well-maintained park with amazing views.
The next stop was Castle Stalker. It’s a privately owned castle on its own tiny island, accessible only by boat. There was a cafe on the main road that claimed to have the best views of the castle, and some of the guidebooks agree. They were wrong. From there you could see it far in the distance and only through a bunch of trees. Sah, however, had done more research prior to the trip and as always it paid off. We took an unmarked flooded dirt road down to the shore and got as close as you can without getting your feet wet.
Another loch-side lunch of fish and chips, and off to Glencoe. Glencoe is a valley of extraordinary natural beauty. Watching the light and shadows dance on the lush mountainsides gives you the same trance-like feeling you get when you look into a fire.
This was also the site of the terrible Glencoe Massacre. At the end of the 17th century there was a revolution and the victor (William of Orange) demanded that all of the clan chiefs travel to their nearest civil authority swear an oath of loyalty to him and his government. Clan Campbell was an early supporter, but their neighbors and occasional rivals, Clan MacDonald of Glencoe, were not so quick to pledge, however did decide to swear on the day of the deadline. When the chief of Clan MacDonald arrived in nearby Fort William to give his pledge the garrison commander there was not authorized to accept his oath. So the elderly chief had to ride to Invarary, a seven day trek through snow storms. Although he was past the deadline his submission was accepted there.
The MacDonalds, therefore, were not suspicious when government troops, under the command of Clan Campbell, arrived to be received in their homes for quarter as was a common practice then. The 120 troops enjoyed the hospitality of the MacDonalds for 10 days. Then in the early morning of the tenth day, by order of King William, the government troops and members of Clan Campbell murdered their hosts. They killed 38 men, women and children and another 40 died of exposure in the harsh mountain winter after their homes were destroyed. This event has been lamented in folk songs and films and was the inspiration for a chapter in the Game of Thrones novels.
We stayed in the neighboring village of Ballachulish and had dinner at the cozy local pub chatting with the friendly locals.