The northern end of Kerrera looks across at Oban Bay and the town of Oban beyond it. The usual way to get to Kerrera is to travel a mile and a half from Oban south to Gallanach. The small ferry from the slipway there transports you across several hundred yards of water: and back several hundred years in time. A link to ferry fares and timetables can be found in the Visitor Information section of this page. There is also a ferry offering a service to the north end of the island from the North Pier in Oban itself. This needs to be pre-booked on the website also linked from the Visitor Information section of this page
Kerrera is a tranquil place, and its 34 residents go to great lengths to keep it that way. The only motor vehicles on the island are those owned by islanders, but as the walk around the whole of the south end of the island is only six miles in length, that is no real hardship. If you visit, the best way to experience the island is to take on the circular walk of southern Kerrera.
If you tackle the walk clockwise, you quickly come to Horseshoe Bay. In more recent times this has been the location of a lobster packing operation.
Horseshoe Bay is better know as where King Alexander II died, on 8 July 1249. He was poised with a large fleet in Oban Bay to try to retake Western Scotland from the Norwegians when he fell inexplicably ill. On coming ashore from his flagship to recover, he died at Horseshoe Bay. See our Historical Timeline.
As you come to the southern end of the island you are faced with junction in the path. Ahead of you it continues around the island, while the track to your left leads to Gylen Castle. If you tackle the ten minute walk to the castle first, you will find the path leads you past a rocky beach and then steeply up to an "L" plan tower house, built in 1587. This clings to the peak of a headland that falls away dramatically on all sides.
When we last visited, work was under way to consolidate the castle and stop it disintegrating into the sea. Even surrounded by scaffolding it is an impressive ruin in an impressive location. The scaffolding has since been removed, revealing the castle in its true glory. This strong location did the resident MacDougalls little good when Gylen Castle was besieged then burned by Major-General Leslie's Covenanter Army during the Wars of the Covenant in 1647. All those sheltering in the castle were killed during the attack or after surrendering.
As you press on around the island you first encounter Kerrera's rocky southern coast, before cutting across a shoulder of land to walk along a footpath fairly high on the western flank of the island. The views west to Mull and north along the length of Kerrera are truly magnificent.
As you near completion of your circular tour of Kerrera, you have the option of extending the walk to take in the north end of the island. This takes you past the boatyard at Ardantrive, looking across to Oban. On high ground at the very north end of Kerrera is the obelisk that serves as a memorial to David Hutcheson, one of the founders of what became Caledonian Macbrayne.