Islay and Jura represent the southern extreme of the Inner Hebrides. Once the ancient home of the Lord of the Isles, who ruled the Hebrides from two islets on Loch Finlaggan, Islay has always been popular with archaeologists and historians. Today the island is perhaps better known for its distinctive malt whiskies, its sandy beaches and its diverse birdlife. While we are here we visit the Bowmore Distillery, the oldest distillery on the island, and Loch Gruinart RSPB Nature Reserve where we have the opportunity to hopefully see many bird species.
To the north-east is Islay’s neighbour Jura, an untamed and rather mysterious island with just 200 human inhabitants, dominated by the “Paps of Jura”.
Completing out trio of islands we offer an optional excursion to Colonsay, with its glorious beaches and a superb woodland garden.
Islay and Jura Highlights
- Watching the comings and goings at Port Askaig harbour
- The pungent aroma of fermenting barley at Bowmore distillery
- On the trail of the Lords of the Isles at Loch Finlaggan
- Peace and quiet on the island of Jura
- Optional excursion to the tranquil little island of Colonsay
- Return coach travel from Dundee, Perth, Kinross, Dunfermline, Edinburgh or Glasgow
- 4 nights’ dinner, bed & breakfast at the comfortable Port Askaig Hotel, Islay
- All visits as outlined in the itinerary
- Comfortable coach travel and all ferry crossings
- Services of a professional tour manager
Single room supplement, if rooms available. Offer is subject to availability.
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We depart from our local pick-up points and head for Kintyre in western Argyll, in time to catch the afternoon ferry from Kennacraig to Port Askaig, Islay. The ferry journey takes just over two hours and refreshments are available on board (not included). On arrival on Islay we transfer (a very short distance) to our comfortable accommodation at the Port Askaig Hotel, which has a superb location overlooking the harbour. All rooms have private facilities.
Dinner will be served in the evening.
This morning, following breakfast, our first visit will be to Loch Finlaggan, which was once the centre of the ‘Lordship of the Isles’. It was here that the installation of the Lords of the Isles took place, and the western seaboard of Scotland was ruled.
Following our visit, we continue to the Bowmore Distillery. This is the oldest distillery on the island and has stood on the shores of Loch Indaal since 1779. Here we will see how this unique whisky is produced by hand, by the Maltman, before maturing in Spanish and American oak casks which give it its unique flavours.
We continue to the Port Charlotte where we will have time for lunch (not included) before visiting the Museum of Islay Life.
Finally, today we will visit the Loch Gruinart RSPB Nature Reserve where we will have an introductory talk before having free time to wander around and having the opportunity to see many bird species, including various species of geese, birds of prey and the chough, a rare type of crow.
Dinner will be served at the hotel in the evening.
Following breakfast, you are free to explore Islay at your leisure. Alternatively, you may wish to join the optional excursion to Colonsay. A pleasant sailing of just over an hour takes you north to this tranquil little island which, with just over a hundred permanent residents, is one of the most remote communities in Britain. On arrival we will visit the gardens of Colonsay House. This is a 30-acre informal woodland garden which is famous for its outstanding collection of species and hybrid rhododendrons and for unusual trees and shrubs sourced from all over the world since the 1930s. Later, we will drive over to Kiloran Bay, the most famous of Colonsay’s beaches, a crescent of sand over a mile long with waves rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean.
We will catch the early evening ferry back to Islay and return to our hotel for dinner.
This morning, after breakfast, we travel to the neighbouring island of Jura, an island which has a record of habitation stretching back over 5000 years. The island, with approximately 200 inhabitants, is 30 miles long and 7 miles wide and is a naturalist’s paradise. It is dominated by the three mountains known as the “Paps of Jura”, the highest being 2576ft. The northern end of the island was home to George Orwell, who wrote his masterpiece 1984 while living here at Barnhill.
We will enjoy a scenic tour before having some free time in Craighouse, a lovely little village and the main settlement on the island with a shop, tearoom, and Jura’s distillery.
We return in the afternoon by ferry to Islay. Dinner will be served at the hotel in the evening.
This morning, following breakfast, we check out of our hotel and transfer to Islay’s other ferry terminal at Port Ellen, where we catch the morning ferry to Kennacraig on the mainland. We will break our journey at the picturesque village of Inveraray on the shores of Loch Fyne, before returning to our original departure points, where we expect to arrive early to mid-evening.