Lismore is an island ten miles north of Oban in the sea inlet of Loch Linnhe. It's one of the Inner Hebrides islands, but little developed for tourism, and overlooked by visitors who sail by on the ferries. Lismore in Gaelic means "big garden" and it's low-lying, fertile and often lashed with rain. Unusually for these parts, it's a limestone ridge, the perfect antidote to peat bogs and midges. It was quarried in the 19th & early 20th century for lime but this industry has gone.
See Oban for long-distance routes across the Scottish mainland.
Calmac ferries sail from Oban to 1 Achnacroich midway along the island, taking just under an hour. Year-round there are four sailings M-Sat and two on Sunday; times may vary with the tides. Return fares (valid to Nov 2020) are £25 for a car plus £6 per adult including the driver, bikes are free. Space for vehicles is limited so reservations are advised.
There's also a ferry between Port Appin 15 miles north of Oban and 2 Point at the north tip of Lismore (sometimes loosely referred to as Port Ramsay, but that's further south). It takes 10 min, foot passengers only, adult fare £1.85 single, cash only. It sails daily year round, usually hourly, but only every couple of hours on Sunday in winter. It's run by Argyll and Bute Council, and this timetable is also posted by Calmac. There's basically no public transport to Port Appin: a school bus runs twice on schooldays from Oban to Appin village, two miles east of the pier. But if you get stuck, Port Appin has accommodation and eating and drinking places - two standouts are Pierhouse and Airds Hotel close to the ferry landing.
Bring a car or bike. The island is 12 miles long, with a paved single track lane running the top 9 miles of it; the south end is rough track only suitable for 4WD. There are no filling stations on Lismore.
Explore Lismore offer tours and transfers on the island.
- 1 Saint Moluag's Cathedral (Lismore Parish Church). St Moluag (510-592), a contemporary of St Columba, founded a monastery on the island. In medieval times this small church was the cathedral for the scattered diocese of Argyll, since it was easier then to get about by sea than by land. Note the doorways, sedilia (priests' seats), piscina (area for washing sacred vessels) and medieval grave slabs. It's now a Church of Scotland parish church and no longer a cathedral; the stain glass windows are modern.
- 2 Ionad Naomh Moluag (Lismore Gaelic Heritage Centre), ☏ . Apr-Oct daily 11:00-16:00. Small museum of island life, volunteer-run so the opening hours are just a statement of good intentions. With cafe.
- 3 Tirefour Broch is an Iron Age structure on the east coat by Clachan.
- 4 Castle Coeffin, Clachan PA 34 5UL (grid ref NM853437). 24 hours. Scenic but scrappy ruins of a castle built in the 13th century over a Viking fortress - Caifen was a Danish princess. It's an oblong tower within a bailey of later date. The even scrappier ruins to the northeast are the Norse "Castle Rachal". Free.
- 5 Achanduin Castle is the ruin of a 13th-century fortress. Not much left of it, you come for the walk and the views.
- Bernera is the tidal island beyond Achanduin Castle. See the remains of its medieval chapel and burial ground, limestone cliffs, seals and bird life.
- 6 Eilean Musdile is the islet with the Stevenson lighthouse off the south tip of Lismore. Best view of it is from the ferry from Oban to Lismore; the ferry to Craignure on Mull also passes nearby.
- Walk Highlands suggest several hikes, many can be done as day trips from the ferry piers.
The Post Office and general store is open M-F 09:00-17:00 and Sa 09:00-13:00.
- Stock up on food essentials at the Post Office, which has meats, cheese, bread, beverages and snacks.
- Liosbeag Cafe is at the Heritage Centre (Ionad Naomh Moluag), same hours.
Lismore has no mains water, the houses and farms all draw from bore holes. Bring your own refreshments or stop by one of the small shops. The Post Office sells bottled drinks.
- 1 Bunkhouse, Baleveolan Croft PA34 5UG, ☏ (mobile). Dorm with 6 beds, 2 double rooms plus campsite & caravan / tourer pitches.
- 2 Bachuil Country House, An Airidh PA34 5UL (north of Clachan), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Two doubles and one twin all en suite. B&B double £120.
- Half a dozen self-catering lets available, see island website.
You'll have enough signal to make a call by O2, Vodafone, Three and EE, but Wifi / data speed is poor. Your accommodation may have better connections.