There is no better way to start the day than at the edge of the sea, especially on a day when the dark surface reflects the colours of the shore. Patterns of light and dark undulated in the briny shallows along the harbour front of Oban. The gulls woke first, their raucous calls fracturing the silence as they searched for edibles stranded in the intertidal. We wondered if we were really in Scotland for not a cloud could be seen in the sky.

In spite of our early 0800 start, the town was alive already. A bit of a walk found us all alone at the strange and looming edifice. McCaig’s Tower, better known as McCaig’s Folly, afforded not just an isolated green space for contemplation but spectacular views of the town. Not all partook of this particular adventure, as options are always offered. A few touched base with their MacDougall ancestors by stealing a view of Dunollie Castle. Others simply strolled the sea front and slipped into shopping mode.

Late morning and early afternoon offered perfect cruising attitudes. As the sky decorated itself with cotton puff clouds, the sun warmed the exterior decks where we lounged and watched the birds and boats pass. When Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK, came into view, we knew a transition was in store. Beneath Ben Nevis, Fort William nestles at the western end of the Great Glen Fault. A sharp left turn and a bit of a swing placed us in the sea lock at Corpach, where we were lifted up our first step into the freshwater system of the Caledonian Canal.

Choices once again! Kayakers followed a well-planned route, taking advantage of tidal comings and goings while encountering an otter that was doing the same. Walkers came in three varieties: strollers, short, and energetic. All three enjoyed views of the Glenfinnan Viaduct, famous for its massive length and twenty-one arches. Many visitors hoped for a glimpse of the steam-powered Hogwarts Express. On a nearby shore stands an attractive column that commemorates all the Highlanders who fought for the Jacobite cause. Near here in 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie landed and began his crusade to claim the throne for the Stuarts. With his defeat began an unfortunate cascade of consequences that resulted in hundreds of thousands of Highlanders and Lowlanders emigrating to other countries.

After dinner, we were treated to a presentation by the manager of Glenfinnan Estates.