The Isle of Jura is not an island for an impromptu visit since it doesn’t have a direct car ferry link with the mainland. Only in the summer there is a passenger ferry, a RIB for 12 persons, operating a service from Tayvallich on the mainland to Craighouse on Jura. So Jura is quite remote and one of the few inhabited islands in Scotland not being serviced by Calmac directly. The only car ferry to Jura is operated by the Argyll and Bute Council and sails between Port Askaig on the Isle of Islay to Feolin on Jura. It’s a five minute crossing over the Sound of Islay, the fast flowing channel that separates these two beautiful Inner Hebridean islands.
The Isle of Jura is said to be one of the last wildernesses in Scotland. The 5,000 deer outnumber the small population of 200 who mainly live on the east coast of the island in or near Craighouse. The west coast is almost totally deserted, there are no roads, only 1 house and miles and miles of spectacular scenery and unspoilt landscape. The center of the island is dominated by the Paps of Jura, the famous landmark that can be seen from many places in the south-west of Scotland. The Paps are also a favourite destination for hill walkers and for the many tough competitors who run the annual “Jura Fell Race”. Yes they run, from Craighouse over the three Paps and back. Mind you, the current record holder, Hector Haines did the tough course in 3:06:30 in 2014.
The wee village of Craighouse is the centre of island life and it’s here where you’ll find the Jura Hotel, the local community owned village store with post office, the village hall, the Antlers restaurant and the Isle of Jura Distillery. Make sure to visit the Jura Parish Church and walk around the back where you’ll find stairs that lead to a wee exhibition with many old photographs of Jura. It’s amazing to see how life was in the old days!
From Craighouse the only road on the island, single track everywhere, starts at Feolin and is often referred to as “The Long Road”, continues north passing the crofting communities of Knockrome and Ardfernal, in between the Small Isles Bay in the south and Lowland Man’s Bay in the north. Further north are Lagg, Tarbert and Ardlussa and the road officially ends north of Lealt. Many day-trippers will never make it up here but those who do await a stunning landscape.
However, the road is not getting any better the further north you head and you have to cross a few deer fences as well before you reach the “End of the Road” sign and parking place. But if you do make it and don’t mind the 30 or so miles gentle driving over the island you are in for a treat. The Red Deer are abundant but also Hen Harriers and Golden Eagles can be yours to spot, so bring your binoculars. If you have the time and proper clothing you can leave your car and walk to the north-side of the island to Barnhill, where George Orwell wrote his book 1984, or even further north until you reach the northern tip near the Gulf of Corryvreckan where allegedly a Scandinavian Prince Breackan was drowned.
The Isle of Jura is a unique island in the Southern Hebrides. If peace and quiet, nature and unspoilt scenery are your thing, do take the effort and make the journey. We have more information on Jura here. For accommodation and more background information visit the Jura Info website