Day 4 – Grounded
As expected we were grounded in Oban – the weather was really poor.
Breakfast at Ards House is superb! The best, locally sourced smoked salmon I’ve ever tasted! Good tea, great service, and a big thank-you to Steve and Illse for such great hospitality. Paul & Simon have to make profound apologies to their B&B “neighbours” having woken them the night before with enthusiastic discussion of weather and routings and the like! I feel tarnished with the same brush, but fortunately was not guilty at all having bagged the single room on arrival. The couple however were very pleasant and forgiving, and showed a lot of interest in our trip.
Stornoway and Wick were totally out of the question so we spent the morning at Oban airfield having a very interesting and informative chat with Graham Dawson from FlyScenicScotland and Border Air Training. Graham has a wealth of experience in mountain flying, a subject two Essex lads and a Surrey dweller knew nothing about! So we soaked up Grahams’ words of wisdom and listened intently to his suggestions on our best way forward.
Basically, we had three choices. Wait for the weather at Stornoway and Wick to improve. Could be a very very long wait! Fly up the Great Glen (a route we had never ever considered prior to leaving Essex) from Oban past Ben Nevis over Fort William and Loch Ness into Inverness. Or worst case scenario, use Grahams “low level escape route” at 500 feet over the water back to Prestwick from which we could go further south. None of us wanted to go south. That was defeat!
So we decided to hang around at the airport a while and see what the weather did. Whilst we deliberated two visiting couples in a C172 and Piper Maule decided to depart across the mountains towards Cumbernauld. About thirty minutes later the faster more powerful C172 arrived back. The flying was just too rough and they decided to wait for better weather. Fortunately the wait to hear that the slower Piper Maule had arrived safely was not too long but was nonetheless tense for its short duration. That was enough for us. We wrote off the day for flying and decided to spend the day seeing the sights of Oban instead!
We ventured into Oban town and enjoyed a walk around the harbour. We poked our head into the distillery (disappointingly no weight allowance left for a bottle or two). Nories fish & chip shop provided lunch where Simon (our token Scotsman) sampled deep fried battered haggis served by exactly the same lady that waited on us the night before in in the Oyster Grill! We concluded she must be the hardest working lady in Oban!
Lunch was followed by coffee and cake in Julies cake shop and then the guilt of all the food drove us to climb the hill to Craigs Tower with impressive views of Oban and the islands beyond.