Our journey through the beautiful Scottish landscapes continues… In this blog, we take you to McCaig’s Tower, popular as Scotland’s Colosseum and other sights in Oban, a beautiful Scottish resort town.
After enjoying the drive through Glencoe valley and Glen Etive, we visited Bridge of Orchy before heading to Oban for an overnight stay.
Oban is a resort town in Scotland. The bay is in the shape of a horseshoe, and is protected by the island of Kerrera. Beyond Kerrera lies the Isle of Mull. People travel to these beautiful places through Oban.
However, there is more to Oban than beautiful bay and lovely mountains. One of the most interesting sites is the Dunollie Castle ruins. It is a small ruined castle located on a hill north of Oban. The site offers fantastic views towards the island of Kerrera. It is also a good spot to enjoy a view of the town, harbour, as well as the outlying isles.
Although the castle is generally open to the public as part of the Dunollie Museum, Castle and Grounds, during the time we visited, it was closed as a part of covid protocols. However, that didn’t prevent us from enjoying the views of the castle grounds from afar as well as enjoying the stunning view of the bay and sea from the hill top.
Next we headed to one of the most visited sites of the town, McCaig’s Tower. Also known as McCaig’s Folly, this is located on Battery Hill and overlooks Oban. The tower is built of Bonawe granite and has a circumference of about 200 metres (660 ft). It comprises of two-tiers of 94 lancet arches – 44 of them on the bottom and 50 on top tier.
A wealthy, philanthropic banker named John Stuart McCaig commissioned this Grade B Listed historic monument. An art critic and architect himself, McCaig oversaw the erection of the tower between 1897 to 1902. He passed away at the age of 78, leaving the construction incomplete.
Through the construction of the tower, McCaig’s wished to provide a lasting monument to his family as well as to provide work for the local stonemasons during the winter months. As an admirer of Roman and Greek architecture, he had plans to build an elaborate structure based on the Colosseum in Rome.
He wanted to incorporate a museum and art gallery with a central tower. The central tower was to have statues of himself, his siblings and their parents. However, all these grand plans came to an abrupt end with his death. Only the outer walls were constructed by then.
The Present Condition
That is what we see now when we visit the site. Although it is only an empty shell, the tower dominates the Oban skyline offering fabulous views to the sea and adjoining islands. The tower has a public garden and a balcony that overlooks the sea and the town, with magnificent views to the islands of Kerrera, Lismore and Mull. You can reach the top of the hill by climbing steps or through the walkway from a small car park at the bottom of the hill.
If you visit Oban, it would be a good experience to visit the Oban distillery to see the making of Scotch Whisky. We had tried to get tickets for the same, but due to Covid protocols and restrictions, couldn’t get a ticket to visit the distillery at a time/date suitable for us. However, earlier during our trip, we did enjoy a whisky tour at Royal Lochnagar distillery, Balmoral. Catch it here.
We headed back to Liverpool from Oban. There are some more sights and experiences we would love to share that with you before we end this Amazing Scotland series. Stay tuned for that and more in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, you can see our vlog of McCaig’s Tower here