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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 56°24′44″N 5°28′13″W / 56.412356°N 5.470232°W / 56.412356; -5.470232

Scottish Gaelic: An t-Òban
Scots: Oban
Oban from Druim Mor.jpg
Oban from Druim Mor
Oban is located in Scotland

 Oban shown within Scotland
Population 8,120 (2001 Census)
OS grid reference NM859298
Council area Argyll and Bute
Lieutenancy area Argyll and Bute
Country Scotland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town OBAN
Postcode district PA34
Dialling code 01631
Police Strathclyde
Fire Strathclyde
Ambulance Scottish
EU Parliament Scotland
UK Parliament Argyll and Bute
Scottish Parliament Argyll and Bute
List of places: UK • Scotland •

Oban (An t-Òban in Scottish Gaelic meaning The Little Bay) is a resort town within the Argyll and Bute council area of Scotland. It has a total resident population of 8,120.[1] Despite its small size, it is the largest town between Helensburgh and Fort William and during the tourist season the town can be crowded by up to 25,000 people. Oban occupies a beautiful setting in the Firth of Lorn. Oban Bay is a near perfect horseshoe bay, protected by the island of Kerrera, and beyond Kerrera is Mull. To the north is the long low island of Lismore, and the mountains of Morvern and Ardgour.

In Oban "The Gateway to the Isles" some 9.4% of the population speak Gaelic.[2]

Attractions in Oban include the Waterfront Centre, the Cathedral of St Columba, the Oban Distillery, Dunollie Castle, Dunstaffnage Castle and McCaig's Tower, which dominates the town's skyline. Oban is an excellent base from which to explore the sights of Kilmartin Glen.

The Oban Tourist Information Centre, operated under VisitScotland, is located in the centre of the town in Argyll Square. It is housed in an old Church of Scotland building.




Before 1940

In the eighteenth century, the land where Oban now stands supported very few households, sustaining only minor shipbuilding and quarrying. The modern town of Oban grew up around the distillery that was founded there in 1794. By the late nineteenth century, Oban was a busy port which shipped wool, whisky, slate and kelp to Liverpool and Glasgow. The arrival of the railways brought new prosperity to Oban, revitalising local industry and giving birth to local tourism. It was at this time that McCaig's Tower, a folly and prominent local landmark, was constructed.

1940 to present

Oban Bay, painted by Hans Gude in 1889

During World War II, Oban was a busy port used by merchant and Royal Navy ships. The RN had a signal station near Ganavan which is now a private house. Also near Ganavan was an anti-submarine indicator loop station which detected any surface or submarine vessels between Oban, Mull and Lismore. There was a controlled minefield in the Sound of Kerrera which was controlled from a building near the caravan site at Gallanach. There is one surviving air raid shelter in the centre of Oban.

There was also a Royal Air Force flying boat base at Ganavan and on Kerrera. The airfield at North Connel was originally built by the Royal Air Force during World War II. A Sector Operations Room was built near the airfield and after the war this was extended to become the Royal Observer Corps Group HQ.

Oban was also important during the Cold War because the first Transatlantic Telephone Cable (TAT-1) came ashore at Gallanach Bay and this carried the "Hot Line" between the US and USSR Presidents. There was protected accommodation for the cable equipment at Gallanach Bay.


Oban is considered the home of The Royal National Mod (a Gaelic festival) as the Mod was first held in Oban in 1892, with ten competitors on a Saturday afternoon. In 2003, Oban hosted the 100th Mod, and many signs were replaced with bilingual versions. As well as the 100th Mod, Oban also hosted the centenary Mod in 1992 (the year it became Royal). (The 100th Mod was later than the centenary because it was not held in the war years.) The 2009 Mod was again held in Oban.

The town has a two-screen cinema. Oban has also been used as a backdrop to several films including Ring of Bright Water and Morvern Callar. See [2].

The Oban War and Peace Museum advances the education of present and future generations by collecting, maintaining, conserving and exhibiting items of historical and cultural interest relating to the Oban area in peacetime and during the war years. A museum also operates within Oban Distillery, just behind the main seafront. The distillation of whisky in Oban predates the town: whisky has been produced on the site since 1794.[3]


The local amateur football team is Oban Saints with a small stadium situated in Mossfield. However, shinty is a more popular game locally, with two major teams, Oban Camanachd and Oban Celtic, in the town. The Oban Times runs a "Spot the Shinty Ball" competition each week. Oban Cricket Club was formed in 2003 and plays in nearby Taynuilt. Oban Lorne Rugby Football Club is one of the more successful teams in the Highlands.

The Highlanders were a World Wrestling Entertainment wrestling tag-team originally from (and billed as from) Oban. Scuba Diving is also readily available around Oban. There are many dive operators running services in and around the area. The wreck diving is spectacular, with the Sound of Mull offering some truly world-class dive sites. Although weather and visibility can be variable, the local geography means that a dive somewhere can always be achieved.

A weekend chess congress is held in Oban each year in the Royal Hotel. It usually takes place on the last weekend of November or the first weekend of December and brings 150-200 players to Oban along with their families.

The West Highland Tennis Championships are held annually in July at Atlantis Leisure and attract some of Scotland's best players to the town. Past champions include Colin Fleming and Judy Murray.[4]

View of Oban Harbour with Kerrera (and Mull beyond)


Oban High School and Scotland High School (located in sister city of Laurinburg, North Carolina) share an exchange programme which enlightens many students on the different and similar cultures within the two countries. The two schools have hosts families of 20 students (ten from each) which share experiences for two weeks in the summer (Oban) and two weeks in the autumn (Laurinburg). The exchange was expanded in 2007 to include a participating law enforcement officer from each community. The law enforcement officer exchange is during the same time as the schools' exchange.


Oban is served by Kilmore & Oban Parish Church of the Church of Scotland. [3] There are three church buildings in the united parish, namely at Glencruitten Road and the white church (opened in 1957) at Corran Esplanade in the town, as well as Kilmore Church. The minister (since 2007) is the Rev Dugald Cameron, who formerly served at St. John's Renfield Church, Glasgow.[5]

The mother church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Argyll and the Isles is St Columba's Cathedral at the north end of the Esplanade. The Cathedral was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and constructed between 1932 and 1959.

The Scottish Episcopal Church is represented in Oban by the Cathedral Church of St John the Divine, situated in George Street. [4] It is one of two cathedrals of the united Diocese of Argyll and the Isles (Episcopal), the other being the Cathedral of the Isles in Millport.

There are several other churches in the town, including the Free Church of Scotland in Rockfield Road, the Baptist Church in Albany Street, Salvation Army in Stevenson Street and the Associated Presbyterian Church in Campbell Street. [5] The Congregational Church in Tweedale Street was built in 1880. [6]


Oban sea front with McCaig's Tower above

Oban lies at the western end of the A85 road. It also has a railway station where a number of First ScotRail services operate to and from Glasgow Queen Street daily. The town is also an important ferry port, being Caledonian MacBrayne's busiest terminal. Oban is known as the Gateway to the Isles, with ferries sailing to the islands of Lismore, Colonsay, Islay, Coll, Tiree, to Craignure on Mull, to Castlebay on Barra and to Lochboisdale on South Uist. In 2005 a new ferry terminal was opened. In 2007 a second link span opened, allowing two vessels to load/unload at the same time.

Scottish Citylink operate services from Glasgow's Buchanan bus station several times a day, and during the summer a service from Dundee via Perth is also operated.

West Coast Motors operate many local services and also coach links as far south as Campbeltown and as far north as Fort William.

Blue Bus operate a return service once a day from Livingston in West Lothian.

Oban is also reachable by plane via Oban Airport at the village of North Connel. The airport is currently being upgraded (costing some £4.2 million), so commercial planes can operate life-line island services, using Oban as a hub.

In 2007 a further airlink was created between Oban and west-central Scotland with a seaplane service making it possible to fly from Glasgow city centre's Seaplane Terminal off the Clyde into the bay in Oban.

Town twinning

See also


  1. ^ Analyser UV04
  2. ^ Duwe, Kurt C. (June, 2006). Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic) Local Studies: An t-Oban & Latharna a Deas (Oban & South Lorn. 18:. pp. 15. Retrieved 13 August 2009.  
  3. ^
  4. ^ [1]West Highland Tennis Week
  5. ^

Further reading

  • Hughes, Mike, The Hebrides at War Canongate Books, 1998, ISBN 0-86241-771-6.
  • Batstone, Stephanie, Wren's Eye View, The Adventures of a Visual Signaller, Parapress Ltd, 1994, ISBN 1-898594-12-0. Written by a Wren based in Oban for most of WWII.

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel


Oban is a town in the Scottish Highlands. It is the Seafood & Sea Kayaking Capital of Scotland and probably the whole of Europe It is also shopping and drinking capital of the north west, and home to the excellent whisky of that name. Ferries run from here to Mull, Colonsay, Kerrera, Lismore, Islay, Coll, Tiree and the Outer Hebrides. Hence the tag Gateway to the Isles.

(There is also an Oban in New Zealand: a village on Stewart Island.)

Oban Harbour from McCaig's Folly
Oban Harbour from McCaig's Folly
Sunset at Oban looking towards the islands of Kerrara and Mull
Sunset at Oban looking towards the islands of Kerrara and Mull


The Oban Tourist Office Argyll Square, 1631 563122, (Fax: +44 (0)1631 564273,[1].

  • Alan Warner's [2]. (best known for Morvern Callar - a novel made into a film - and The Man Who Walked) novels tell the story of everyday Oban life, and how better to describe Oban than in the words of the bard himself.
  • Caledonian MacBrayne, [3]. The national ferry service. The summer 2009 timetable there are car ferries to Mull (daily 5-7 times per day, takes 45 minutes), Lismore (Mon - Sat 3-4 per day, 50 minutes), Coll and/or Tiree (5 per week, 3-4 hours), Colonsay (5 per week, 2.5 hours), Barra (daily, 5+ hours)and Lochboisdale on South Uist (4 per week, 5+ hours).
  • Dunstaffnage Marina, [4]. Marina, boatyard and pub a few miles north of the town.
  • Scottish Citylink, [6]. Coaches from Glasgow, via Tyndrum or Inverary. Several coaches run per day- trip takes about 3 hours, longer during peak season. Buses often run in West Coast Motors livery.

Citylink coaches also run from Inverness - see the website for more details.

  • Loch Lomond Seaplanes run a daily summer service from Glasgow, landing in Oban bay [7] £149 return. Or fly to Glasgow Airport (GLA) and then take a taxi to Dumbarton Station (£10) & take the train from there to Oban.
  • McCaig’s Tower, [8]. John Stuart McCaig - "... an eccentric testator....". This tower looks over the Oban bay. It takes about 15 minutes to walk up the hill by one of several signposted routes on roads, or by steps. There are good views of Kerrera and Mull and looking up the Sound of Mull.
  • Dunollie Castle, [9]. Also known as Dunoille Castle. Ancient seat of the MacDougalls of Lorn. A small castle situated at the far end of the bay from the station - just walk in and up the hill.
  • Dunstaffnage Castle, [10]. A castle about three miles North of Oban (buses leave from outside the station). Open daily in summer 9.30 am to 5.30 pm, 9.30 am to 4.30 pm daily except Thusday and Friday in winter.
  • Oban Distillery [11]
  • Mull & Iona Island Tours - Available from Bowmans Tours [12], Caledonian MacBrayne, Turus Mara [13] or Gordon Grant Tours [14]
  • War & Peace Exhibition - Museum detailing Oban's role in world wars. Free Admission
  • Joy of Scotland Landrover day tours of hidden Argyll... - Standing stones, castles, glens, mountains, lochs, characterful pubs and plenty of time to explore. [15]
  • Puffin Diving [16] - Dive centre
  • Sea.fari Adventures [17] - High Speed Boat Rides
Fingal and Sula, Canadian river otters
Fingal and Sula, Canadian river otters
  • Scottish Sealife Sanctuary [18] [19]- See Fingal and Sula the Canadian river otters, common and grey seals and many other sea creatures. Around six miles north of Oban.
  • Murder Mystery Walking Trail (by Treasure Trails), [20]. A great way to explore Oban whilst having fun solving clues. Buy booklet online or from local Tourist Information centre.  edit
  • Sea Kayaking Tours, 8 Argyll Street, Oban (5 mins from the station behind McT's), 44(0)1631 565 310, [21]. This is a well known kayak school & outfitter with daily tours and also multi day trips in this stunning sea kayaking area. You can paddle right out of the harbour or they will rent you a trolley and you can take your kayak on the ferries for free £75/day.  edit
  • Light of India - Indian cuisine.
  • Waterfront - seafood restuarant upstairs & bar with bar food downstairs, No1 The Pier, Oban, PA34 4LW.
  • Lorne Bar & good value bar meals Stevenson Street PA34 5NA.
  • The Barn, [22]. Cologin, Lerags By Oban, PA34 4SE. 2 miles out of Oban
  • Ee-usk, [23]. The red-roofed building on the North Pier. Specialises in seafood. Main courses (evening) from £11.95 to £59 for the Grand Platter (for two). Open 12-3pm and 6-10pm.

Buy fresh seafood from the kiosks on the Railway Pier and eat al fresco.

  • Markie Dan's Victoria Crescent, Corran Esplanade, PA34 5PN
  • O’Donnells Irish Bar Breadalbane St, PA34 5NZ.
  • Lorne [24] Stevenson Street, PA34 5NA.
  • Cellar Bar.
  • Harbour Bar attached to The Columba Hotel, PA34 5QD on the North Pier
  • Aulay's, [25] 8 Airds Crescent, PA34 5SQ.
  • Oban Backpackers, [26]. Private hostel, relaxed, fun, clean and cosy. Landrover day tours of 'hidden Argyll' available leaving daily.
  • Corran House, small ensuite dorm rooms and private guest rooms, sea-front location.
  • Oban Backpackers Plus, [27]. Centrally located, the comfort of a B&B at backpacker prices.
  • Oban Youth Hostel, [28]. A SYHA hostel. 4, 6 and 8 bed dormitories housed in a large Victorian building, on the Esplanade. Great sea views. Within easy walking distance of the town centre.
  • Aros Ard [29] a guest house 15 minutes walk from the city centre with a strong focus on environmental sustainability and has won several awards. Beds between £25-28 ppn.
  • Kerrera Tea Garden and Bunkhouse, [30]. Not in Oban, but 5 minutes by ferry down the peninsula. On the island sheltering Oban harbour, looking out to Mull.
  • Dun Na Mara Guesthouse, Benderloch, Oban, 01631 720233 (), [31]. beautiful Edwardian house by the sea with spectacular views to the Isle of Mull and informal gardens leading to our own beach, 8 miles North of Oban.  edit
  • Oban Bay Hotel - [32] Corran Esplanade, Oban, PA34 5AE, 01631 562051. Rooms from £47 ppn
  • Queens Hotel Corran Esplanade, Oban, PA34 5AG, 01631 562505.
  • Columba Hotel, The Esplanade, Oban, PA34 5QD, 01631 562183. Rooms generally £50-80 per room. As it is on the North Pier, rooms on three sides have sea views, some rooms at the back can be noisey from the pubs below.
  • The Manor House Hotel [33] Gallanach Road, Oban, PA34 4LS, 01631 562087. Rooms £100+
  • Barcaldine House Hotel [34] Barcaldine, Oban, Argyll, PA37 1SG, 01631 720540. Rooms £100+, Self catering cottages from ~£70
  • Head out West on a ferry to Mull amd Iona - the nearest and could be done in a day trip; or for an overnight stay on Coll, Tiree, Barra, South Uist.
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