Travel tips for vis­it­ing David’s Scot­tish cas­tles

Timeless Travels Magazine - - SCOTLAND -

Fly­ing

The near­est airport to Oban is Glas­gow, which re­ceives flights from both Europe and the rest of the world. Airlines that fly to Glas­gow in­clude United, Amer­i­can Airlines, Air France, Easyjet, Flybe, West­jet

and Air Canada.

Visas

Visas are not cur­rently re­quired for cit­i­zens of the EU/EEA/Switzer­land, and those from Canada, Aus­tralia, New Zealand, or the USA For more in­for­ma­tion check https://www.gov.uk/stan­dard-vis­i­torvisa for dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

Get­ting around

Cale­do­nian MacBrayne is the provider of ferry ser­vices on the west coast and to the var­i­ous Isles. Fer­ries to more main­stream des­ti­na­tions such as Craignure on the Isle of Mull are very reg­u­lar with up­wards of ten sail­ings per day. Smaller des­ti­na­tions vis­ited by fewer peo­ple are still eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble, but some ad­vance plan­ning is cer­tainly rec­om­mended so you don’t miss con­nec­tions or find your­self watch­ing the last ferry back sail off in the dis­tance! Full timeta­bles can be found on their web­site, and spe­cial ‘Hop­scotch’ tick­ets can be pur­chased to give to­tal flex­i­bil­ity over set pe­ri­ods of time. Ferry timeta­bles: www.cal­mac.co.uk/ cal­mac-summer-timeta­bles - For Duart Cas­tle and the Isle of Mull, get the ferry from Oban to Craignure. Aros Cas­tle can be reached from here by trav­el­ling north on the A849 from Craignure. - For the Isle of Ker­rera and the Isle of Lis­more, get the ferry from Gal­lanach to Ker­rera and Oban to Lis­more, re­spec­tively. - For Kin­locha­line Cas­tle and Ardtro­n­ish Cas­tle, get the small ferry from Fish­nish on the Isle of Mull to Locha­line. - For Kisimul Cas­tle, get the ferry from Oban to Castle­bay (ap­prox­i­mately 8 hours sail­ing time). The small ferry to the Isle of Ker­rera (to see Gylen Cas­tle) takes just three min­utes. It can’t take cars, but Ker­rera is very walk­a­ble so that’s not an is­sue. - Ker­rera ferry: www.ker­rera-ferry.co.uk/ times-con­tact.html

Money

Cur­rency: The cur­rency in the UK is the English pound where £1 is made up of 100 pence. Notes in­clude 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100.

Credit Cards: Are ac­cepted in al­most all ho­tels, res­tau­rants and shops.

Trav­eller’s cheques:

all UK banks.

Are ex­change­able in

The Es­sen­tials

Time dif­fer­ence: GMT + 0

Lan­guage: English

Elec­tri­cal cur­rent/ plugs: Elec­tri­cal cur­rent is 230 volts; 50Hz. Three-pin plugs are used in the UK.

Wa­ter: Tap wa­ter is safe to drink in the UK.

Pol­i­tics: The UK is a democ­racy gov­erned within a frame­work of a con­sti­tu­tional monar­chy, in which the Queen is the head of state and the Prime Min­is­ter is head of gov­ern­ment.

Re­li­gion: Ac­cord­ing to the 2011 UK cen­sus, Chris­tian­ity is the ma­jor re­li­gion, fol­lowed by Is­lam, Hin­duism, Sikhism, Ju­daism and Bud­dhism .This, and the rel­a­tively large num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als with nom­i­nal or no re­li­gious af­fil­i­a­tions, has led com­men­ta­tors to var­i­ously de­scribe the United King­dom as a multi-faith, sec­u­larised, or post-Chris­tian so­ci­ety.

Rec­om­mended

When trav­el­ling through Scot­land it can be very ben­e­fi­cial to take out mem­ber­ship with His­toric Environment Scot­land, the or­gan­i­sa­tion that cares for the ma­jor­ity of Scot­land’s cas­tles. If you visit more than three or four cas­tles, espe­cially the larger ones such as Ed­in­burgh, Stir­ling or Urquhart, it eas­ily pays for it­self. - His­toric Environment Scot­land mem­ber­ship: www.mem­bers.his­toric­scot­land.gov.uk/

Cy­cling is an easy way to ex­plore the cas­tles and take in the stunning scenery. You can rent bi­cy­cles in al­most any town, but Oban is a good point to start from. - Bi­cy­cle rental in Oban: www. oban­cy­cle­scot­land.com/

Short his­tory

The west coast and West­ern Isles of Scot­land is a large and com­plex area with con­sid­er­able re­gional vari­ances. That said, it can gen­er­ally be de­scribed as Gaelic in its cul­tural ten­den­cies, be­ing more com­fort­ably sit­u­ated in the world of Ire­land and the Ir­ish Sea than in the Scot­tish main­land and its feu­dal power cen­tres.

In fact, it was set­tlers from the north of Ire­land called the Scoti who came to Ar­gyll around 300-500 CE and gave us the name ‘Scot­land’. De­spite its seem­ing re­mote­ness, many of the old­est sites of hu­man habi­ta­tion in Scot­land can be found here. In the early 1100s a war­riorchief­tain named Somerled brought much of Scot­land’s west­ern seaboard un­der his do­main, es­tab­lish­ing the quite sep­a­rate king­dom known as the ‘Lord­ship of the Isles’.

Norse and Gaelic cul­tures mixed here, cre­at­ing a so­ci­ety rich in both a war­rior tra­di­tion (many Isles­men went abroad through­out the Mid­dle Ages, espe­cially to Ire­land, to fight as mer­ce­nary Gal­low­glasses), the arts (espe­cially met­al­work­ing) and bardic sto­ry­telling.

This is also the so­ci­ety that gave Scot­land its world-fa­mous clan sys­tem. The pop­u­la­tion of the re­gion used to be much higher in re­la­tion to the Low­lands of Scot­land, but the bru­tal High­land Clear­ances of the late 18th and 19th cen­turies sent many to far-flung cor­ners of the world such as Canada and New Zealand.

To­day Gaelic is still spo­ken in much of the west of Scot­land, and Ed­in­burgh is con­sid­ered as re­mote from day to day af­fairs as Lon­don.

Weather

Tem­per­a­tures in the West­ern Isles range from 2 de­grees in win­ter to 15 de­grees in the summer. It is also an area prone to much rain. There­fore come pre­pared for all weath­ers but with par­tic­u­larly good waterproofs!

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