On our first day at Kerrera, we just arrived after 4 pm, but we decided to explore the island only on the second day. The idea was to go for a walk until the must-visit Gylen Castle. My walk starts from Horseshoe bay, but the visitors coming from Oban usually starts it from the ferry that takes you to the island.
The island is around 7 kilometres (4 miles) long, and I think it takes only 30-40 minutes to walk from the chalet to the castle. The circle walk exploring the southern part of the island can take from 3-5hours (starting from the jet Ferry), depending on your pace.
But our idea was to enjoy the beautiful early-autumn weather, stopping during the walk to take photos and enjoy the beautiful nature surrounding.
The footpath is quite okay, being most of the time grassy. We found it quite easy to reach the castle.
You will bump into residents and other travellers visiting the spot. Some of those tourists can stay in the Horseshoe Bay Chalet or in the other accommodation on the island which is more than two accommodations available here.
I remember seeing a couple that camped near the castle. So, I presume you can also spend the night on the island if you have a tent to go camping in.
A walk to the Gylen Castle
At the beginning of our walk, you will climb up the hill in the direction of a farmhouse and byre known as an Upper Gylen. There are spectacular views on the left, overlooking the sea, so don’t hesitate, to explore the area.
It was a perfect spot for meditating. And I kept thinking about going back there to do it. But the goats, that obviously love the spot too, had other ideas about it. And, no, I couldn’t meditate on his spot. Fair enough, after all, it is their home. Not mine.
It’s the Lower Gylen where you will find the Kerrera Tea garden and Bunkhouse which is a quite popular spot to have a cuppa, a bagel, a cake, or just enjoy the views from this stunning part of the island.
I have heard the food is amazing, but we never had time to stop for a coffee. But I would recommend it if you were just visiting the island for the day.
Right after passing the Tea Room, you will be next to the gate that will lead you to the final path until the Gylen castle. From us, it is a quite easy and pleasant, and quite straightforward walk.
The footpath is in excellent condition. Just a bit muddy when it rains. But we were quite lucky when we visited it on a beautiful sunny day in early September. Actually, the rains just arrived in Kerrera when we left the island. You can even find a lovely public toilet in the middle of it.
What is the Gylen Castle?
Gylen Castle is a MacDougall stronghold built by Ducan MacDougall of Dunollie. The castle was completed in 1582. Nowadays it belongs to MacDougall of Dunollie Preservation Trust.
This ruined castle is quite impressive. Its privileged position perched high on a headland of sheer cliffs provides amazing views of the surrounding seas.
I have visited many Scottish castles before. But I was impressed with the beauty of this construction. Gylen castle is considered a gem being a rare example of a tower built in the Scots Baronial style.
It’s a quite well-preserved structure and it is worth it to check the history behind this amazing spot.
Photos: Simone Ribeiro
Source: Island of Kerrera visitor guide.