Oban Islands. June 2024


Helen Rose Outdoors

I have previously written about the Islands near Oban but it was 11 years ago and a revisit provides more information and photos. The Glasgow HF Outdoor Club arranged a weekend in Oban over the Easter holiday.  and it gave the opportunity to revisit Seil Island, Easdale and Kerrera so I knew what to expect. Oban is only about three hours by bus from Glasgow and we stayed in the Scottish Youth Hostel Association overlooking the bay. Not for us a dormitory as we opted for the twin rooms with ensuite. Youth Hostels have moved forward a lot in time. Gone are the days when cleaning was required as a duty and there is now a choice of rooms or dormitories.

The first day James had arranged a three part walk by car sharing although there are buses to the start of the walks at Ellenbeich. Ellenbeich is on Seil Island which we would later return to but first we took the very small ferry to the Island of Easdale


The ferry ride was only a matter of minutes and we started a walk on good paths around the island.

There are no roads on Easdale so everything is carried by wheelbarrow from the ferry. I was so amused to see the wheelbarrows lined up with the number of the house on the side and we saw tourist’s luggage being wheeled in to the rented cottages. At one time this was a Gaelic speaking community with a school but now there are only six Gaelic speakers left. Easdale was a slate quarry island and deep pools remain. With no exhaust fumes the air is very fresh to breathe.

We walked around the path coming to the famous pool where the annual stone skimming championships are held. People come from all over the world to participate and our group had a go with some being particularly good at it. The stones have to be of a certain diameter and thickness and the islanders spend about six weeks before the event collecting them around the island as competitors are not allowed to bring their own. The walk finished at the Puffer for morning coffee and homemade scones before the ferry back to Seil Island.

Easdale Island is small in area, but was the centre of the Scottish slate industry for almost three centuries. At the peak of the slate mining industry, Easdale had a community of more than 500 working as many as seven quarries. For almost half a century, Artillery Volunteers stood guard over the Slate Islands. They were part-time soldiers. Easdale’s quarrymen formed two companies of artillery, each with fifty men, two massive guns and a drill hall.


Seil Island

Back at Ellensbeight on Seil Island, our walk started in front of the abandoned quarry above the cottages formerly used by the slate quarry workers. Scotland is known for the quality of its slate used on roofs. In fact, my own house is a hundred years old and has a Scottish slate roof still in excellent condition.

Scottish slate is distinct in that it generally has a rougher texture and is thicker and more irregular than that found in other areas. Following the path around the quarry we were soon on a green hill and took the opportunity in lovely weather to have lunch looking over to Easdale

It was then a drive to the east side of the island to The Bridge over the Atlantic where our walk started at the pub walking a circular route. However, the walk had to be shortened as we came to a new fence with barbed wire on the top which would have been difficult to scale with the barbed wire. We returned to the pub by a shorter route which gave us more time to relax outside the pub with refreshments before returning to Oban. The Clachan Bridge, also known as the ‘Bridge Over the Atlantic’, was built in 1792 by engineer Robert Mylne. The single-arched bridge is steeply humped so small vessels can pass underneath. The historic Tigh an Truish Inn sits just over the bridge.


On Easter Sunday we drove to Galleneich to take the short ferry ride over to the island of Kerrera. There is a bus service from Oban to the ferry port.

The ferry is run by Calmac

and has to be booked in advance. We walked the circular route around the island in a clockwise direction.

We eventually reached the café which looked very inviting but we were short of time as the last ferry is at 5.30pm and we had to be sure to catch it. We did a detour to Gylen Castle which sits on a promontory beyond fields and passed some friendly black Highland Cattle.

Built in 1582 by the Clan McDougall, Gylen Castle barely managed 100 years of occupation before it was besieged and burned down in 1647. This happened during the War of Three Kingdoms and sounds like a real life Game of Thrones episode!  In 2006, Historic Scotland and members of the Clan McDougall funded a partial restoration so that you can now enter the castle and let your mind conjure up even more images of what that time must have been like for those who lived and worked in the iconic building.

During the walk, there were great views all around and over to the mainland.

We had a refreshment stop on the east of the island where we had a spot of meditation while sitting on a grassy bank taking in the peacefulness and enjoying the views.

During our stop I had the opportunity to roll my very small Easter Egg on the slope and then enjoy the chocolate!

It was then a walk round to the ferry back to Galleneich and then Oban for a visit to the pub for a lovely beer looking out to the bay. The evening was complete with a visit to the Chippy for dinner.


Many thanks to James and John Paul for arranging the walks. A very enjoyable weekend in surprisingly good weather. I like to see those lovely white quarry workers cottages.

Coming attraction; Arran Again

Helen Rose's Outdoor Diary: Arran Revisited
Helen Rose's Outdoor Diary: Donegal, St Patrick's Day

This section: Helen Rose Hillwalking Diary

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