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Round The Oa

September 5, 2010
The path to the Oa

The path to The Oa

I never believed that the weather would be so glorious when I visited Scotland for only the second time in my life.  My first visit had been in October 1994 when I got married at Gleneagles.  I packed huge jumpers, scarves, coats and gloves for that visit and it had been an Indian summer leaving me casting about for lighter clothing.  We arrived on the isle of Islay to drizzle that turned to teaming rain and when we joined our host for a walk along the beach the next morning at 7am it promised more of the same.  By 10am it was bright and just got hotter and hotter, the brilliant sunshine and blue skies revealing the countryside in ochre, sienna and purple tones of unbelievable intensity.

We drove towards Port Charlotte and took a right turn which led us to part of the island called The Oa.  A narrow road snaked on and on eventually ending in a small car park with information from the RSPB to look out for golden eagles, otters and corncrakes among other things.  The path was well signposted towards the monument taking us through a nature reserve of wild flowers and past a field of Highland cattle (more of them later).  The gravel path ended, there were wooden platforms to negotiate sections of boggy land but wellies were the best choice of footwear (my husband was wearing sandals and had an up close and personal experience of a mud bath).  The monument was built to commerate the sinking of an American troop ship that sank in 1918 towered ahead; how on earth they managed to build it in such a remote spot is mind boggling.

The monument on The Oa

Monument and trig point

It was a visual feast for the eyes with the black cliffs meeting the deep blue sea dramatically.  The day was so clear that you could easily see over to Portnahaven in one direction and Northern Ireland in another.  The path continued along the coast through the heather that was just coming into bloom.  As you turn to start walking inland you can see a waterfall – more drama.


Dramatic cliffs

Mounting a stile we entered a field full of Highland cattle with their fluffy calves, right across the path.  Coincidentally we had had a long conversation about people we knew who had been attacked badly by cows (including my Aunt who nearly died) and agreed that the most dangerous situation is when they are protecting their calves.  My husband was very protective of our own offspring and suggested we turn back; I, however, urged us to go forward as I’ve encountered Highland cattle and calves many times on Dartmooor.  They look menacing with their long horns but seem incredibly docile.  We edged nearer and saw a lone hiker coming the other way; laughably we must have all had the same thought as we slowed to a stop…let them go first.  I had realised quite early on that one of the beasts was a bull (it’s quite obvious).  We stuck together and walked through unscathed – the hiker picked his way gingerly on the other side.

Me and the view

Me and the view and big smile

We rounded a farmhouse, struck out on the lane and we soon back at the car park.  I think it was about 3 miles of breath-taking beauty.  I hope my photos can do it justice.

Click on an image to view the gallery.

  1. Anna permalink
    September 6, 2010 1:20 am

    I was all set to pack a bag and go… until I got to the bit about the cows!

  2. September 27, 2010 5:01 pm

    Breathtaking photos! And very inspiring.

  3. September 28, 2010 8:47 am

    Thanks. It was a lovely, lovely day.


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