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Thursday, 25 August 2016

The 2016 Challenge, day 0: Getting to Oban (6)

The station in Oban is right by the harbour (good commercial common sense dictated that - the main traffic when it was built was fish, and they wanted to be able to land it on the quay and load it straight into the waiting wagons which would whisk it as swiftly as steam would allow to Glasgow, and possibly even London). What that means nowadays is that you can get straight off your train and onto a waiting ferry to take you to the islands or, alternatively, that you can get straight off your train and wander along the waterfront. I did the latter, pausing to take this photograph with the imposing folly of McCaig's Tower in the background. I suppose it is perhaps a bit unkind to describe McCaig's tower as a "folly". It was built between 1897 and 1902, at the behest of a wealthy local gentleman by the name of - you guessed it! - McCaig, in order to provide employment in the winter months to local stonemasons. I bet they must have just loved being up there on that hillside, all through the winter, exposed to the bitter winds blowing in off the Minch ... but at least they were getting paid for it. That's the main thing. And nobody in Oban will ever forget the name of McCaig ...

As I walked along the seafront I looked for a suitable location to perform my annual ritual of dipping a walking pole in the sea at the West coast, formally to mark the start of my Challenge. I always do it wearing my rucksack, and I always keep my rucksack on until I have dipped my pole in the sea at the East coast. That way there can be no argument as to whether or not my crossing was valid. I will have, unquestionable, carried my gear all the way across from coast to coast.

Well, a little further round the seafront there were some steps down onto a sandy beach, and that is where I chose to dip my pole. So ... I was on my way again, the official start of my 11th crossing.

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