Barra to Glasgow by ferry and train

The last blog post has left me on the island of Barra after a nice flight on the Loganair Twin Otter with a special landing on the beach. Usually I would have looked for another flight to continue from here, bit since there are only flights back to Glasgow and I also wanted to see a bit more of Scotland I decided to take the long way back, that is first by ferry to the town of Oban, and from there with the train down to Glasgow. This train journey over the West Highlands is supposed to be one of the most scenic railway lines in the world.

The island of Barra

So let me start with a few pictures and words of the island of Barra itself. Barra is one of the smaller islands of the Outer Hebrides, with a little more than 1000 people living mostly near the coast, while the inland is more hilly and nearly uninhabited. Mostly green and rocky, not a lot of vegetation besides the green grass, with a quite remote and solitary atmosphere. I really liked the place, here are some pictures from a little walk along the coast:

Biggest town on the island is Castlebay, and just if you wonder how they came up with that name, well, there is a little castle in the bay, quite simple, isn't it? 😉

The main street in town:
The name of the castle btw is Kisimul castle, dated back to the mid 16th century and was a stronghold of the MacNeil clan. You can visit the castle nowadays, and it is supposed to be quite interesting, but I didn't have enough time to do so unfortunately.

There are only two hotels on the island, but both of them were quite expensive so I decided to spend the night in a little B&B, and it was a good decision, very friendly owner, cozy room and of course with a complete Scottish breakfast the other morning. The Tigh Na Mara guesthouse:

Barra to Oban by ferry

Next morning it was time to head back to the Scottish mainland by boat. Here the Clansman of Caledonian MacBrayne just arrived at the small ferry port of Castlebay:

I boarded the ship, climbed up the stairs and found this lounge at the front of the ship with nice views outside and I settled down. Looks good enough to spend the next 5 hours:

On time departure, but be careful Captain, there is a little castle on the way out of the harbour:

Leaving Barra behind and out into the open sea:

As you can see at first the sun was out and it looked like a pleasant day, but it was still quite windy. Later it was getting more and more cloudy though. The first half of the route leads over the open sea, and it was actually quite rough. Well, nothing really serious but it still felt a little uncomfortable from time to time, at least for such an old landlubber like me 😏 . Later we sailed through the Sound of Mull between the Isle of Mull and the mainland and there it was much quieter.

Nice that they had monitors in the cabin where you could follow the route:
The view back:
And after about 5 hours finally the town of Oban came into view, my destination for the day:
Docking at the harbour there:
All in all the ride on the Clansman was a good experience, perfectly on time, comfortable on board and some pretty nice views on the way.


I could have connected directly from the ferry to the train to Glasgow. Schedules are conveniently synchronized. I wanted to spend a night here in this town though and it was totally worth it. The town is not very big, but after Barra it felt quite metropolitan 😃 . Just a few impressions:

At the end of the bay lies Dunollie Castle, the ancient seat of the MacDougalls of Lorn, another Scottish clan:

And great views from there over the sound and towards the islands:

Of course this being in Scotland there is also a whisky distillery in town, and for sure I had to visit. Pretty interesting to see the production with the mash tons and the pot stills. And of course I had the possibility to taste a nice dram of the "Oban 14", slainté:

Later that evening nature showed its best side and put on an awesome sunset show. Aren't these just stunning colors:

I had a little time the next morning before my train woudl depart so I climbed the hill leading to so called McCaig's Tower, a round structure overlooking the town. It was erected by a wealthy banker named McCaig between 1897 and 1902. It was originally planned to house galleries and a museum, but then McCaig died unexpectedly and the construction was stopped with only the outer walls finished:

Nice views from here though over the town, the red chimney below is part of the Oban distillery:

West Highland Railway - Oban to Glasgow

Time to catch the train then down to Glasgow, here it is already on the platform:

Ok, this is supposed to be one of the most scenic train rides in the world, so let's see. It was just quite difficult to take pictures out of the running train, here are the ones that came out at least somehow nice:

Near the small town of Crianlarich the line meets up with the branch leading to Fort William in the highlands. The trains here get connected and then continue together to Glasgow. Here you can see the other train coming down just a few miles before the two lines merge:

Then later the train mostly follows the shore of Loch Lomond:

And after a little more than three hours I arrived at Glasgow Queen Street station. The ride was indeed quite scenic and I certainly enjoyed it, though I actually expected it to be somehow more spectacular. I have later read that the other branch of the line leading to Fort William is supposed to be even more beautiful, so something to do for the next time.


I arrived late afternoon in Glasgow and with an flight out the next morning I didn't have a lot of time in this city. I spent it mostly in the Westend part of town, where my hotel was located. Main landmark in this area is certainly the Kelvingrove Art Gallery:
Besides this area of town has a quite pleasant atmosphere with a lof of green and some nice architecture:

And with this picture of my dinner for the night, Lasagne with garlic bread, a classic pub grub, I want to end this blog post:

Thanks for reading!