Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuna Melts and Hiking in Scotland

Scotland is the land of beautiful, breathtaking scenery, friendly, storytelling people and great food. 

We were unbelievably lucky to experience all three of these highlights on our recent trip to Oban just a few weeks ago. We explored the islands and the town, toured the Oban Distillery, tasted whisky (mine was heavily watered-down!), drank delicious local stouts and ales, and on an epic hike to see some castle ruins, we stumbled upon the most charming tea house where we enjoyed some of the lovely local cuisine -  Scottish sandwiches!

It was an uncharacteristically hot day when we set out from our B & B in Oban – the cozy Roseneath Guest House – and hiked to Kerrera Sound to catch the ferry to the Isle of Kerrera. We were excited to view the ruins of Gylen Castle, on the south edge of the island. We loaded up with our camera, water bottles and lots of sunscreen and were off!

Sunny hiking trail!

The hike was a beautiful trek through the lush, green hills spotted with dozens of plump Scottish sheep. As we were coming over a particularly steep mound that was on route to the castle, we spotted the white cottage of the Kerrera Tea Garden and Bunkhouse. 

Kerrera Tea Garden and Bunkhouse:
pleased to serve hungry hikers and their dogs!

Right there, in the middle of all those never-ending hills, was that ever a sight for tired eyes! You can even stay the night in their bunkhouse!

We were instantly hungry and stopped for a quick lunch.  At a quiet spot in the welcome shade of a patio umbrella, we ordered two tuna melts, lemonade and a ginger beer and reapplied our sunscreen. With my fair skin and red hair, I blended in with the locals!

It wasn’t too long before we were joined by a friendly couple from Manchester, who were delighted to learn we were Canadian and insisted we tell them about the Calgary Stampede (“What is the purpose of a Stampede in the middle of a city?”), how we met and how we survive our Canadian winters (“Absolutely ghastly weather! And yet, your summers are glorious!”). True that.

I love traveling for the simple joy of talking to complete strangers about completely random topics.

Our tuna melts were tasty and hit the spot. Sweetcorn is a common additive to tuna sandwiches in the UK and I liked how it gave the sandwich a different overall texture. I also enjoyed the crisp salad with its balsamic dressing and we found ourselves recharged and energized for the rest of the afternoon.

Tuna Melt and Salad with Balsamic Dressing. 

Next stop, Gylen Castle!

Gylen Castle was originally built by the MacDougall Clan in the 1500s and was eventually besieged and then abandoned. It was recently restored in 2006 and now many visitors venture there to see it, impressively perched on the cliffs overlooking the coast.

Even from far away, the view is amazing.

With its stony peak jutting into the bright blue Scottish sky, it was a beautiful sight to see as we approached from below. The terrain was rugged and the climb was challenging but once we got to the top, the view made it all worth it.

Gylen Castle, Isle of Kerrera, Scotland.

A lovely hike, a friendly chat and a tasty lunch - suffice it to say, Scotland has some pretty glorious summers too.