Pulpit Hill rises to a height of some 239ft above the south side of Oban Bay and is one of two "must visit" viewpoints that Oban has to offer. The other is McCaig's Tower, above the east side of the bay. What is particularly nice about Pulpit Hill is that it gives excellent views beyond the island of Kerrera, which sits across Oban Bay, allowing a real appreciation of the complex interplay of islands and mainland around the Firth of Lorn.
There's a signposted footpath to the top of Pulpit Hill that starts at the foot of the hill not far from the harbour. Or you can choose to drive: the views from the top are just as good however you get there, but the sense of deserving them is much greater if you've expended a little effort getting there!
You have to follow your nose if you decide to drive, and it's worth remembering that the road on which you do most of the climbing should be followed round the right hand side of the hill to well beyond the summit before turning left, almost back on yourself, in the midst of a housing estate. An earlier left hand turning part way up the hill, leads round the other side of the summit. It's also worth noting that the road that takes you up the hill is largely single track, with limited sight lines in places, so some care is needed.
If you drive, you find yourself emerging from the housing at a small parking area near some public lavatories, beyond which a broad path climbs the remaining short distance to the actual summit of the hill itself. The highest point on the hill is home to a circular iron seat of, apparently, some antiquity. Nearer the edge of the top of the hill is a viewpoint indicator placed here in 1930. This sets out in considerable detail the various islands, mountains, castles and other landmarks in the view, showing the name, direction and distance of each.
The viewpoint indicator also helps highlight a growing problem with Pulpit Hill. During the time we have been visiting, the surrounding vegetation has tended to encroach more and more, to the point where views down into Oban itself are now quite badly obstructed. We'd not give it very many more years before the viewpoint indicator's primary purpose will be to show you what you are missing rather than what you can actually see...
The observant visitor to Pulpit Hill will notice a square sectioned stone standing a short distance to the east of the top of the hill. This is known as the Minister's Stone, and the story is that at one point the stone was used by ministers to stand on to give sermons to outdoor congregations who would gather on the hilltop to hear them. The connection with the name "Pulpit Hill" is obvious, but we've not been able to unearth details of when the stone was used for this purpose, or why. Or, for that matter, what the significance is of the inscription carved on the upper surface of the stone.
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Grid Ref: NM 852 295