Oban, "little bay" in Gaelic, today has a resident population of 8,500 and is the unofficial capital of the West Highlands - the "Gateway to the Isles." The panoramic views of the mountains, lochs and islands which have captivated artists, authors, composers, and poets for centuries are as striking now as they were when Dunollie Castle, a ruined keep which has stood sentinel over the narrow entrance to the sheltered bay for around six hundred years, was the northern outpost of the Dalriadic Scots. It is no surprise to find Oban in the 21st-century remains a magnet for travellers from all over the world. The town's present day popularity owes much to the Victorians, and as early as 1812, when the Comet steamship linked Oban with Glasgow, the town played host to intrepid travellers touring Staffa - the inspiration for Mendelssohn's Hebridean Overture - and Iona - home of Scottish Christianity since St Columba stepped ashore in AD563. Indeed once Oban had the royal seal of approval from Queen Victoria, who called it "one of the finest spots we have seen," the town's destiny as an endearingly enchanting holiday destination was as firmly set as the lava columns of Fingal's Cave in Oban is justifiably known as the “gateway to the Isles.” The town's south pier is the embarkation point for car ferries to Mull, Coll, Tiree, Barra, South Uist, Colonsay, Lismore and Islay. From these islands you can travel further a field to Iona, Staffa and to many of the smaller less well known isles.