October 18, 2010

0 Scotland Trip; Oban area, October 18

We spent the night of the 17th in Oban, a harbor town widely used for the ferry to Mull but also a pleasant little town in itself.  There were several things nearby we wanted to see, so we decided to stay in the area and spend the night of the 18th as well.   Also, if you're ever in the area, Oban Distillery has GREAT beer- and I'm not even a beer fan!

 Our first stop was Dunstaffnage Castle.   The rock it was built on is believed to have housed some sort of fortified structure since the 600s- impressive!!  The current castle was built during the 13th century by the MacDougalls, seized by Robert the Bruce in 1309, transferred to the first Earl of Argyll (a Campbell) in 1470, then in 1502 given to the Earl's cousin, named Captain of Dunstaffnage, whose family has maintained ownership since.

Paul was very impressed with the curtain wall.

Just inside the middle of the castle.

The gatehouse.  We were unable to go into it, unfortunately.

View of the sea from the castle.

 View of the harbor from the castle.

Dormer windows on the gatehouse.

The rock under the castle.

Dunstaffnage Chapel.  It was built in the 13th century as well and used as a family chapel, but converted to a burial place for the Campbells of Dunstaffnage in 1740

We'd passed a sign for the Sea Life Centre just outside of Oban, so we headed there next.  Once there we saw several rooms full of various fish and other marine life, including a Giant Octopus, but the highlight was the seals.  These lovely girls are Laura and Lily, two seals-in-residence at the centre.   Their handler came out and did a feeding whilst giving we viewers an educational talk on the seals of Scotland.

The view from Laura and Lily's pool.

A very brave seagull- he kept swooping in, trying to steal the seals' fish- they may look cuddly, but they have some sharp teeth!


The girls didn't perform any tricks; like any true conservation-based centre the focus was on education, not entertainment.  We did enjoy the feeding, though, and admired the beautiful seals.

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