Kerrera Drove Road
Start location: Barr-nam-boc Bay (NM 798 286)
End location: Jetty for the pedestrian ferry to the mainland. (NM 830 287)
Geographical area: Argyll and Bute
Path Type: Pilgrimage Route, Drove Road
Path distance: 4km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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This route runs from Barr-nam-boc Bay over a clearly defined track across the centre of Kerrera, dropping down to the jetty for the pedestrian ferry to the mainland.
Kerrera is easily accessible by a passenger ferry that runs to the mainland a couple of miles south of Oban. The Kerrera Drove Road can form part of a wonderful circular walk around the south part of the island.
OS Landranger 49 (Oban & East Mull)
Until the middle of the nineteenth century this was the main route for cattle from Mull to reach mainland markets. The cattle were shipped from Grass Point on Mull to Barr-nam-boc Bay, driven across Kerrera, then the cattle swam the narrow Sound of Kerrera. According to Haldane in The Drove Roads of Scotland as many as 2000 heads of cattle travelled this way every year.
Originally the Kerrera landings were at Ardmore, further south, but a landing place at Barnabuck was found more convenient and a quay was built there in 1760. This was the main ferry route to and from Mull until 1867, by which time traffic had dwindled due to competition from the growing steamboat connections with Oban. [- with thanks to the Mull Museum, Tobermory]
According to H. MacDougall's Island of Kerrera: Mirror of History (1979), from 1820 to 1845 Calum Posta (Malcolm the Post) carried the post across Kerrera on his route between Tobermory and Oban. The island's school was then near Bailemor farm, and a story passed down is that the schoolchildren liked to watch out for Calum Posta, especially as he would sometimes be carrying something eye-catching, such as a horse collar. The later school built in 1872 can still be seen from the route; it only closed in 1997.
It is thought that the String of Lorn and the Midmuir Drove Road were both used by pilgrims long before drovers used them and so it is likely that this path was also used by pilgrims on their way to Iona.