This circular loop explores the southern half of the Isle of Kerrera with extension to the northern tip where there is a monument to David Hutcheson, one of the founders of the Caledonian MacBrayne Ferry service.
On this route, you can enjoy good views out to other islands and the mainland, and explore the well-preserved remains of Gylen Castle.
The most time-efficient way of exploring the island is on a mountain bike. The terrain is a mostly unsurfaced road, but there are a few kilometres of single-track road.
Kerrera is a small island close to Oban and is around 7 km long and around 2 km wide. The island is known for the ruined Gylen Castle (the name means ‘Castle of Fountains’), a small tower house built in 1582 by MacDougalls of Dunollie but fell to a siege in 1647. The castle has been restored in 2006.
How to get here
Postcode for Gallanach slipway is PA34 4QH. Coordinates to the Gallanach ferry car park: 56°23’49.9″N and 5°30’34.8″W. Google maps: 56.397185, -5.509670.
The Kerrera ferry leaves from Gallanach, 3.5 kilometres (2 miles) south of Oban town centre. It is a 25-minute walk from Oban to the Kerrera Ferry or 10-minutes with bike. If coming with a car you will need to leave your car at the ferry car park, as there is a policy of resident’s vehicles only on the island. By bus, from town centre take bus number 417 by West Coat Motors. See the timetable here.
Getting to Oban
Gallanach is 2.30 hours from Glasgow by car. Alternatively, you can take a Citylink bus or a train from Glasgow Queen Street Station to Oban.
The first ferry from Gallanach is at 8.45 and the last ferry from Kerrera is at 17.55. There are no ferry services between 12.30 and 14.00. Fare for an adult return ticket is £3.30 (child £1.70), bicycles are free. For information regarding ferry fares and timetables see the Calmac website.
Distance: 18 km (11 miles), Time: 2.5 hrs (cycling) or 6 hrs (walking)
From the jetty on Kerrera cycle/walk up the track to a junction. Take the left track that heads south along the east coast of the island and follow the signs for the Gylen Castle.
At the next junction, turn right. First, the trail climbs up, passes the house, and then descends to The Kerrera Tearoom and Bunkhouse. Immediately before the Tearoom turn left, follow the trail through a gate, past the composting toilet, and continue towards the Gylen castle and the southern shore of the island. Here you can enjoy good views over the sea to the mainland and the isles of Seil, Scarba, Luing, Jura, and Mull.
Return to the main track, continue past the Tearoom, around the bay, and then head inland past an upstanding rock to reach the house at Ardmore. Ascend the boggy, rocky track left of the house until you reach a gate. Beyond the track becomes a grassy trail and continues ahead, keeping above the west coast of the island with fine views across to Mull and Lismore.
Eventually, the trail changes to a track again and curves right to descend to the farmhouse at Barnabuck. From here, the track climbs and passes the ruins of an old settlement. When you reach a junction, take the left track to the northern end of the island (right track takes you down to the ferry jetty).
Follow the grassy trail down to the coast; continue along the coast, past Oitir Mhòr Bay, and through a farmyard to the Hutcheson Monument. Here you can enjoy great views of Oban and Dunollie Castle on the mainland. Return to the junction and descend to the ferry jetty.
Alternatively, if you are walking, you can take the ferry (in summer only for passengers, no bicycles) direct to Oban north pier from the Waypoint Bar & Grill at Ardintrave Bay.