Column: Awe inspires feelings of wonder in the Highlands
If you think you've seen beautiful, you haven't seen anything until you visit the Western Scottish Highlands.
Travelling up to Oban, with husband James, along the final stretch of Loch Awe, I can honestly say it was the most gorgeous vision I’ve ever had, and this was just the start.Bathed in soft, golden autumnal sunlight, the trees on the fellside were a beautiful meld of golds and coppers. Parts seemed like green velvet, then the loch itself with its bays and inlets; small islands; old ruined Kilchurn castle and overhanging trees, all creating a picture of perfect harmony, as if someone had thought up an exquisite dream then made it reality.Arriving in the early evening light, Oban does not disappoint. There on a sea loch you look out across the bay at boats, islands and mountains, then wonder if you’re imagining things. At times it seems an impossibility of beauty, yet this is only one small portion of the Highlands. For me, it went beyond mere picture postcard too as one strand of my ancestry – the MacDougalls – were from this area, so driving along the Brander pass, I knew that a small part of history, though sad, had happened here.After a meal, and a long sleep, we woke to a hearty breakfast then walked along to Ganavan Sands – a wide, golden, sandy beach with clear limpid sea. The views were stunning so the walk was punctuated by photo stops at every turn. The combination of autumn golds, greens, pristine seas, islands and mountain silhouettes all drenched in soft sunshine, made the place magical. As we walked back towards our hotel, I was keen to visit Dunollie House, the clan seat, where we were shown round by very hospitable Robin, the son of the current MacDougall chief. We briefly explored the house and knew we'd see the castle sometime soon to do the tour. It was a surreal yet wonderful experience and I vowed to return. After loading up with more MacDougall tartans than a gift shop, we headed back to Oban, where we walked along the prom with a slight nip in the air, giving the perfect excuse to don the tartan scarf. Wonderful.