Episode 27 (Season 3): ‘Never The Same’
Let’s venture out to the west coast of Scotland and embark on a learning adventure led by marine biologists and geologists from Oban to Fort William.
‘Never The Same’ is a story about the ways in which travelling can turn the natural world into a classroom. From holding a piece of rock that is almost as old as the planet to learning the killer whale’s darkest secret (hint: it’s not what you think), this story is all shining a light on the experts who live on the west coast and share their knowledge with anyone who’s willing to listen.
We spend an afternoon looking for and learning about whales and dolphins from a marine biologist, and follow the footsteps of Charles Darwin to understand the nature and origin of geological features in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. Come along on this trip from Oban to Fort William, and learn something new!
After the story, I’ll tell you my top tips for making the most of your trip to Oban and Fort William.
Are you ready? Great – let’s travel to Scotland!
This episode is sponsored by Wonder Seekers, an initiative that brings together science and tourism to inspire exciting learning adventures that are unique, authentic and sustainable.
Written and hosted by Kathi Kamleitner.
Produced, edited and sound design by Fran Turauskis.
Transcripts and social media by Michelle Payne.
Cover Art illustrated by Lizzie Vaughan-Knight.
All original music composed by Bruce Wallace.
Additional sound effects from Zapsplat.
All photographs by Kathi Kamleitner.
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My Scottish West Coast Tips
Slow down, just a little
While the experiences I mentioned in today’s story only take up a few hours in a day, I do recommend slowing down your itinerary if you want to make time for learning experiences.
I find that the longer time I spend in an area, the deeper I can understand it. I meet more locals, have time for different kinds of activities and don’t have to miss out on any of the obvious highlights either.
Travelling slower will allow you to engage with a location more deeply and I think that’s exactly where the learning experience starts.
Join an activity with the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust
The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust is based on the Isle of Mull and there is a range of ways for you to get involved or join an activity.
You can visit their Discovery Centre in Tobermory and learn about local marine wildlife there. You can join a guided coastal walk like the one we did, and learn tips for spotting animals at sea. Or you can simply download the free Whale Track app to report your sightings.
And if you’re looking for a more immersive experience, sign up for a Research Expedition aboard the Silurian and help collect data about Hebridean marine wildlife.
Visit the Lochaber Geopark
Learning about the geology of the Scottish Highlands is easy. Your first point of action should be to visit the visitor centre of the Lochaber Geopark in Fort William. You can’t miss it on the High Street. Here you can pick up leaflets about routes and trails all over the park.
The things you can learn there will prepare you for a tour around these sites, whether you head out by yourself, or book a guided walk with an expert geologist who can bring the stories of the landscape to life for you.
Head to Glen Roy to see the Parallel Roads, drive through a caldera on the Ardnamurchan peninsula or walk among some of the oldest rocks in Europe on the Small Isles.
The Lochaber Geopark is actually in dire need of support, so know that your interest in their work can really make a difference.
Stay at Witchwood House B&B in Oban
There is no shortage of hotels and bed & breakfasts in Oban or Fort William and since they are only about an hour apart, both would make for an excellent homebase for a trip in my footsteps.
I wanted to give a shout out to Witchwood House B&B in Oban where I stayed on my recent visit. They only just opened, but are already my favourite accommodation to recommend in the town. Their rooms have uninterrupted sea views of the bay and look like they’ve jumped out of an interior design magazine. The owners are super friendly and always on site, and the breakfast is just delightful. I can’t wait to stay there again.