Scottish island of 'two halves' linked by road for first time in its history

An ‘island of two halves’ will be joined up by road for the first time following decades of campaigning by residents.

Kerrera, to the west of Oban, is home to around 70 people, but about half of them have been cut off from the CalMac ferry service in the centre of the island at Gallanach given no road connects the pontoon to those living in the north.

Those in the north of have faced a walk – or quad bike trip – over bog or rough forest track to catch the ferry to Oban – around 15 minutes away by sea – or rely on a skeleton boat service that has been run largely on a good-will basis out of the marina in the north of the island.

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Now a 1.1 mile (1.75km) track will connect the residents of north Kerrera to the main ferry stop for the first time.

Gallanach on the isle of Kerrera, where the island's CalMac ferry service calls. Residents in the north of the island will now be connected to the sailings by road for the first time following a long-running community campaign.

Martin Shields, from the Isle of Kerrera Development Trust, said building the road was a “huge moment” for the island.

He said: "It’s massive, you can’t overstate it. Some of the families in the north of the island have been there for 20 years, but for decades more it has been talked about as something that is needed.

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"The people in the north of the island have always had a struggle on their hands to get on and off the island. There is a fantastic marina in the north where residents can keep their boats on the water, but you wouldn’t want to have to rely on them as your lifeline.”

Mr Shields, who will project manage the new road and has personally campaigned for seven years to get it in place, said islanders needed to be able to get to Oban for school, work, food and other services.

He said those in the north tended to use quad bikes, if they had them, to get to Gallanach. Mr Shields recalled the experience of one mother who walks around 3km home in the dark carrying her shopping after returning from Oban.

He said” "It has been nothing short of desperate for some. You think, this can’t possibly be right.

"I don’t think there is another island where half the population are cut off from the main ferry service. If it was anywhere else, there would be an outcry.”

Mr Shields said the local authority had costed the road at £1.6m several years ago, but that now the community was building it themselves after securing £500,000 funding from the Scottish Government’s islands programme.

The road will be forestry track laid by Argyll-based A & L McCrae, with the tarmac then added by Argyll and Bute Council.

Mr Shields said the new road would also allow Kerrera to build a resilience plan to insure residents had the best access possible to emergency services.

David Keys, a resident of North Kerrera, said: “Having been a resident at the north end of Kerrera for 25 years and been involved in the struggle to see the island linked up by road for the whole of this time, the road will be transformational for the families and businesses in not only North Kerrera, but for the whole island.”

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