Isle of Kerrera
We start with a walk on the Isle of Kerrera, which is situated in the mouth of Oban Bay and which acts as a natural breakwater for this important west coast harbour. Although it is close to the bustling tourist centre of Oban, with only 40 residents it is a world apart. Cars are banned on the island except for the inhabitants own vehicles. A historically and geologically interesting island, each successive turn of the Kerrera's coast offers up intriguing new views. A highlight is the sudden appearance of Gylen Castle.
We next turn to wild Glen Coe, where we will walk into the Coire Gabhail - also known as the ‘Lost Valley’ - concealed on a high meadow behind massive rockfall. The MacDonalds used to hide stolen cattle in this glen in the times before the massacre of 1692. In addition to offering one of the most stunning views in Scotland, Glen Coe is also known to be one of the best preserved examples of caldera subsidence. Most of the major peaks within the glen consist of lava flows and approximately 1200m of mostly volcanic sequences have been identified.
Later in the week we will walk on the island of Lismore, explore Glen Stockdale and delve into Argyll’s earliest history in Kilmartin Glen, heartland of the first Gaelic-speaking Scots, with a unique concentration of prehistoric remains, such as cairns, a stone circle and rock carvings. There are several impressive medieval and later castles here, including Carnasserie, and much else besides.
The week ends with a rough but spectacular walk around Jura’s wild north shore beside the swirling Corrievreckan. Red deer are guaranteed and we should keep an eye open for golden eagles, sea eagles, otters, porpoises and seals.
The programme will be subject to variables such as weather and the abilities of the group and changes may also be made to take account of lambing, deer stalking, etc. Any such alterations will always take into account the need to maintain the overall character of the holiday.
Journey from Glasgow via Loch Lomond and the Pass of Brander to Oban.
A circuit of the south end of the Isle of Kerrera via the dramatically situated Gylen Castle. Scenically beautiful, with new views opening out as we follow successive turns of the coast clockwise from the ferry landing, there's a lot of historical and geological interest on this walk. The confined Sound of Kerrera gives way to more open views south towards the islands of Seil and Scarba, followed in turn by the sudden appearance of Gylen Castle, its prominent silhouette backed by the hills of Mull across the wide Firth of Lorn.
Turning north yet more new views appear towards Lismore and the hills beyond, which line the long, straight rift where Loch Linnhe leads towards the distant Great Glen.
8 miles/13 km, 900ft/275m of ascent.
Lost Valley, Glen Coe
Northwards to Glen Coe where we can choose from a number of walks. We'll probably do two walks.
The first goes into the 'Lost Valley', taking us into the heart of this wild mountain land. The Lost Valley - properly Coire Gabhail, or the corrie of booty - is a dramatic glaciated 'hanging valley' situated between two of Glen Coe's famous 'three sisters' ridges. Hidden from the world behind massive piles of tumbled rock that fell from the vertiginous mountainsides late in the Ice Age, it is reputed to have been the place where the Glen Coe MacDonalds hid their stolen cattle if the original owners came looking.
The second walk will take us for a circuit above Rannoch Moor, out along an old military road and back along a stretch of the West Highland Way. We will be surrounded by the impressive mountains all the time with great views of Buachaille Etive Mor, the Black Mount, Beinn Achaladair and on a clear day as far as Schiehallion.
Total of 8 miles/13 km, 2110ft/645m of ascent.
Southwards to Kilmartin Glen, one of the world’s most significant archaeological landscapes with its prehistoric and early historic monuments. We start the day with a visit to Kilmartin House Museum, followed by a walk through 6,000 years of history along a good cross-section of Kilmartin’s prehistoric and early historic monuments - a stone circle, burial cairns, standing stones, carved stones and the iron-age fort Dunadd, the capital of the first Gaelic-speaking Scots.
We will continue to Crinan for a walk through native woodland and on to a hill fort with excellent views towards the isles of Jura, Scarba, Mull and the little inhabited islands closer to the coast.
Total up to 9 miles/15 km, 1000ft/300m of ascent.
Tirefour Castle, Lismore
We take the ferry to Lismore for a walk on the island. Lismore, Lois Mor in Gaelic, means Great Garden and that is just what it is. But don't think the walk will be all path and track, because our route takes us along a coast with cliffs and arches. We pass sheltered bays and blowy hilltops with marvellous views.
Our first stop is Tirefour Castle, a Pictish broch on the east coast of the island. It is believed to have been constructed around BC 500. On a clear day there are great views from the broch to Ben Nevis, Ben Cruachan and the Paps of Jura in the south. We then walk across the island to the west coast which we follow to the ruin of the 13th century Castle Coefin. Other places interest during the walk are a faithfully restored thatched cottage and a number of limekilns.
9.25 miles/15 km, 910ft/277m of ascent.
Glen Stockdale is a beautiful wooded glen north of Oban which runs parallel to Loch Linnhe. A band of metamorphic limestone runs through the glen. As a result burns (small streams) disappear underground and reappear further down the hill. There are also sinkholes and caves. During the 1745 Jacobite Uprising and in the aftermath of it, the caves were used as refuges.
Our walk starts in Appin from where we follow the track into the glen through native woodland. Soon spectacular views open up south towards the islands in the Firth of Lorn, including Lismore, Mull and Kerrera.
Isle of Mull from the Isle of Jura
We will leave the track and go uphill, through the limestone crags, to the ridge and continue our walk along this ridge, enjoying fine views up and down Loch Linnhe and the Firth of Lorne, towards Ben Nevis and Glen Coe to the north, Ardgour and Mull to the west and the Inner Hebrides to the south. We will continue north along the ridge before descending back into the glen and the path back to Appin.
8.5 miles/13.5 km, 1965ft/600m of ascent
By hired boat from Craobh Haven to the north end of Jura for a rough but spectacular walk around the wild Corrievreckan shore. Red deer are unmissable and we should keep an eye open for golden eagles, sea eagles, otters, porpoises and seals.
If wind and tide are right then the overfalls in Corrievreckan make one of the most stirring sights of all the world's oceans, with one of the biggest of all standing waves. Do try not to fall in.
8 miles/13km, 1000ft/300m of ascent.
In the morning journey back to Glasgow.