Outdoor Pursuits In Oban
The West coast is a superb playground for sea-kayaking. You can launch from the beach by Kelly's pier, just a few hundred yards from the house. Great play area in Loch Etive, with the option of a long expedition up to the head of Loch Etive. Or launch from Oban and a more serious expedition is to kayak around the island of Kerrera. Or just bob down the sound of Kerrera and land underneath the castle ruins to visit the tea garden on Kerrera.
There are several small companies that offer kayak experiences in the area Kenny Lacey based on Seil at www.seakayakscotland.com or www.seafreedomkayak.co.uk based in Connel.
Indoor Climbing Ice Factor in Kinlochleven 01855 831 100. There are also small indoor climbing walls at Atlantis Leisure in Oban and Fort William Leisure Centre
The biggest indoor ice climbing wall in the world. You can arrange a rock-climbing lesson or ice climbing lesson here, while the rest of your family watch you with their cup of tea. Rock climbing from age 7, ice climbing from age 17 and minimum boot size 4. Also an indoor play area for under 7’s, free use for café users. Also nice to just visit and use the café while watching unkowns.
About 1.15-hour drive if you go direct, you can go as part of the Glencoe circuit. Turn right out of Taynuilt towards Oban. Turn left at Connel over the bridge towards Fort William. At Ballachulish roundabout go towards Glencoe and Tyndrum. Then 2 miles down turn left to Kinlochleven. When entering Kinlochleven the road bends to the left. Turn right there by the visitor center and head to the left, the tall building.
Rock climbing Not really the perfect location as most of the rock is a 3/4 hour north but it is near at hand for the odd day as part of a family holiday and it's one of our favorite occupations.
Sailing The sailing on the west coast is some of the loveliest anywhere in the world, boats are available for hire from small fishing to ocean going yachts. Also, you can launch a boat at Taynuilt beach, just 600 meters from Bonawe House.
Canoeing One of our guests brought his river canoes and had a smashing 2 weeks in August 2007 going down the river Awe. As we are not canoeists ourselves he has written us a guide. He had pulled some information from a website before he came, but he said this was no longer accurate, written in 2002, so here are Paul's words;
'Put in at the barrage about 3.5 miles along the A85 back towards Glasgow. You can then run the river into Loch Etive and get out at the second pier and walk back to Bonawe House. The barrage has 3 gates and these determine how much water is in the river. If only the gate nearest the road is open it's a bump and scrape with a few decent play spots - mainly grade 2 with five to six grade 3 sections. If the middle gate is open the river is at its best. There will be several sections of continuous grade 3 and a few good play spots. If both the left gates are open (the 2 furthest gates from the road) the river will be high and quite technical. Still, grade 3 but a lot more demanding. About 400m down from the barrage is a fall in 3 steps and a large holding stopper forms on step 2 to 3. I got stuck in this once but was smashed out after a loop and 3 rolls. A big hole also forms at the power station weir on the left side. At 2 gate releases, this always looped my boat whatever I did but doesn't hold. A really great little river for competent paddlers as the flow often passes under thick overhanging trees where a rescue would probably be too time-consuming to be effective.'
I would like to add that we often see young paddlers with instructors going down the Awe, so clearly they know what is open. Also every Sunday more water is released than during the week, as it is diverted for the hydro station during the week.
There used to be a weir near the bottom of the river, and most general information will make reference to this. But this was taken out in 2003.
Scuba Diving The diving off the west coast is some of the best around (if you don't mind the water temperature) and there are several diving schools nearby. Try David Ainsley at www.divescotland.com or Puffin Dive who are in Oban and offer beginner trial sessions as well as full courses.