Travel tips for visiting David’s Scottish castles
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 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.
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
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.
all UK banks.
Are exchangeable in
Time difference: GMT + 0
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.
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/
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.
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!