The solidly Victorian resort of OBAN (Web: www.oban.org.uk ) enjoys a superb setting distinguished by a bizarre granite amphitheatre, dramatically lit at night, on the hilltop above the town. Despite a small population, it's by far the largest port in northwest Scotland, and the main departure point for ferries to the Hebrides. If you arrive late, or are catching an early boat, you may have to spend the night here; if you're staying elsewhere, it's a useful base for wet-weather activities and shopping.
The only truly remarkable sight in Oban is the town's landmark, McCaig's Tower, a stiff ten-minute climb from the quayside. Built in imitation of Rome's Colosseum, it was the brainchild of a local businessman a century ago, who had the twin aims of alleviating off-season unemployment among the local stonemasons and creating a museum, art gallery and chapel. In his will, McCaig gave instructions for the lancet windows to be filled with bronze statues of the family, though no such work was ever undertaken. Instead, the folly has been turned into a sort of walled garden, and provides a wonderful seaward panorama, particularly at sunset.