Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Short Break In Oban - Beinn Lora and Tralee Beach

Beinn Lora

After a good breakfast we decided to head up to Benderloch, which is about seven miles north of Oban, and walk up to the summit of Beinn Lora. It's not that high (308m, 1010') but we haven't been doing much hill walking lately so it seemed an easier option and a means to break us in a bit. There's plenty of parking available in Benderloch and even a Forestry car park at the start of the walk.

Mull and Rubha Garbh-àird

It's only a three and a half mile walk up and down but it involves a fairly steep ascent. Most of the walk is on good forest path, well signed with blue waymarkers and surrounded by tall conifers. However, it's not all gloomy forest walking as there are several good viewpoints on the way up, some with welcoming benches for a wee rest as it is a steep walk. Once out of the forest, there's an option to take a detour off to the Eagle's Eyrie viewpoint. It's an easy stroll over to the far side of the hill and is well worth the effort as it has some good views of Tralee Beach with the island of Lismore behind and you can also see over Loch Creran to Loch Linnhe. An added bonus was a couple of buzzards circling and diving overhead in the clear blue sky and calling to each other.

Loch Creran and Loch Linnhe

Once back on the main track it heads round what, on the maps, looks like a wee lochan but it's been drained and is just a boggy looking depression now. The track heads back into the forest and after a while you're rewarded with a little picnic area at the end. A kissing gate leads through the deer fence and onto the open and somewhat boggy moorland leading up to the summit of the hill for those wishing to enjoys the real views. The views from the top are worth the effort and you should be able to see Dunstaffnage Bay, the Connel Bridge and the immense bulk of Ben Cruachan.

Dunstaffnage Bay

We had lunch back at the picnic area, well it was a bit windy on the summit and the ground was very soggy so a table and bench was pretty welcome. If you're thinking of doing this one in trainers, forget it! The return route is pretty much the same as going up but you can take a different path down, still following the blue waymarkers, for a short part of the way.

Tralee Beach

There was plenty of time left so, once back in Benderloch, we walked down onto Tralee Beach and had a pleasant stroll along to the far end of it and back. The beach itself is mostly pebbles and cobbles with the real sand up at the back. Had a wee lie down on the sand for a bit but again it was a bit too breezy for comfort so we didn't hang around too long.

Loch Etive and Ben Cruachan

Eating Out

Back in Oban and cleaned up I took Lorna out for her birthday tea. I'd fancied trying Coast as the menu looked pretty good but she didn't fancy anything too heavy after the walk so we booked a table at Piazza down on the north pier. It's a pizza and pasta restaurant and the menu looked pretty good. Lorna had Mozzarella Bruschetta followed by Spaghetti Meatballs and I had Minestrone Soup followed by Rigattone Paesano and, along with a decent bottle of red wine, it was all very enjoyable. Service was good and the staff were friendly so, aside from a table full of caravaners and their hyperactive kids charging around, it was a good place to eat.

Time to head to a pub again so we aimed for the Lorne Bar. We'd been there before and it's a pretty lively place, often with live music, and it's pretty popular with the locals. Pity though as it was only a DJ this time and they fired up some horrible flashing, rotating disco lights that seemed to be aimed at my eyes and I had to change seats to be able to see without blinking every five seconds. Maybe I'm just getting too old!

Kerrera tomorrow...

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