Oban Bay Sunset

Hydro Ruins

Or to be more precise ~~ The Oban Hydropathic Establishment and Sanatorium

Now little more than a few walls and an air of what might have been the Hydro was a grandiose scheme started in the 1880s to cater for the ever indulgent wealthy victorians.

As the hydro in the name suggests this place was all about water treatments which the victorians were convinced was the cure for all ills.

Spas and water treatments (Externally and internally --- eeeewww) were in vogue at the time and this project was to have been the ultimate in luxury with turkish baths, seawater pools (to have been pumped up from Oban bay!), stables, golf course, concert hall, gardens, greenhouses and its own private gas works to provide heating and light.

There were even plans for a funicular railway from the town to transport the residents up the hill to the hotel. Couldn't have the poor souls getting fit and healthy doing any sort of exercise, especially something as mundane as walking, now could we?

The hotel occupied a site decribed by The Oban Times as "perhaps the best view in the country" and by 1882 the hotel had a roof on but Dr Orr, the schemes originator had massively under estimated the costs involved resulting in the original backers cutting their losses. (The original estimate was for £75,000 which was reduced, some say by smoke and mirrors, to £32,000.)

Sadly the place was left to fall into the ruin it is today. If ever a building in Oban deserved the name "folly" then this is certainly the winner.
On the left from 1897 sitting majestically on the hill but with the roof already gone to the present day on the right
oban hydro or hydropathic hotel 1897 oban hydro or hydropathic hotel 2006

The hydro is now frequented mainly by local dog walkers - and teenagers with other ideas - and offers not only views of the town and bay to the west but a panoramic aspect of the whole area.

Well worth the visit but not the easiest to find - you won't find it in any brochures or signposted anywhere.

How to get there?

On foot ~~ from Chalmers corner on George Street head up Argyll Street, to the left of the Congregational Church start picking your way up the 324 steps of Jacobs Ladder.
At the top turn right, follow the road and turn left up the hill into Rockfield Road. (This road is know locally as Morris Hill as that is the house at the top of the hill)
Once at the top of the hill turn right along the track in front of Grianaig and Culzean. The track can get a little muddy in wet weather, just keep going and you're there.

By car ~~ from the top Corran Halls roundabout head north (signposted Crianlarich / Fort William), 200m up the hill turn right onto Deanery Brae (Between Strathnaver and Kings Knoll Hotel).
At the bottom of the hill where 5 roads merge you need to take the 3rd counting clockwise and signposted Dalriach Road following signs for McCaigs Tower.
From the tower car park turn right heading downhill so the tower is on your right.
At the junction turn left and 200m on you come to the top of Rockfiled Road (Morris Hill) Once at the top of the hill turn right along the track in front of Grianaig and Culzean.
(There is no vehicle access and only on street parking (free) so why not just walk from the tower car park?)


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