Friday, August 05, 2016

Tour d'Ecosse Day 2 Islay and Jura Sunday 3rd July 2016

Day 2 Islay and Jura 56km 700m ascent
Cumulative 151km 1900m ascent Ferries 4 Islands 3

Come to Islay but especially Jura, and stay at The Jura Hotel for a night or two. Very reasonable price, contemporary Scottish, not twee and food to die for. The surroundings are not shabby either. We wished we were here another day to mountain bike to the end of the road.

First the riding, after an excellent 'light' breakfast at Bluebell Cottage on Kintyre we rolled 500m down the hill to Kennacraig, nothing is there but the ferry terminal to Port Askaig and Port Ellen on Islay. We would have preferred Port Ellen but the only ferry on a Sunday is in the evening, so we sailed at 9.30am to Port Askaig (Ferry#3) and planned a shorter circular route to catch the 5 minute hop on the Feolin ferry (Ferry #4) to Jura later, either 16.30 or 18.30.
Boy the pull out of Port Askaig is brutal, 14% hill bends from cold straight off the ferry and into the stiff westerly but although overcast we did stay dry. In a couple of kilometres we have passed two whisky distilleries, but we headed for Bowmore.
I always stop for gratuitous bike pics 
Bowmore Distillery Islay
After a wee dram in the bar we headed off on a short loop, after a failed attempt at finding a decent café. Touring on a Sunday needs very careful planning as so many cafés, restaurants, tourist attractions and nearly all shops are still shut on the Sabbath in the Western Isles. The only tea shop open in Bowmore on a Sunday is grim. Do not go there!

A stiff pull out of Bowmore. This was not to be our resting place!

taking us through sporting estates, very wild heath and moorland.
Sporting estates on Islay, not quite the Glorious 4th thank goodness!
But those horrible bends out of Port Askaig were rewarded with a lovely swoopy descent back down to catch the 16.30 ferry to Jura, and a spare 45 minutes for a cheeky gin and tonic. I heart Botanist Gin now.
Here I fell in love with Botanist Gin...distilled on Islay, waiting for a ferry.
Waiting patiently for Ferry #4
I just love harbours and boats...there will be many shots like this!
Feolin Ferry Islay to Jura £1.50 each and we were the only passengers
Jura's only road!
We swept down the one and only road to Craighouse. Just beautiful, today it was not actually raining. Running into Craighouse was like coming home. We found the Jura Hotel easily and were shown up to our lovely modernised room totally keeping the local character. Steve was convinced it would be awful old Scottish tatty hotel, but the young owners have worked a miracle on this place. It caters for everyone and we did not feel out of place here in our limited wardrobe! We had the cheapest double, so a view of the distillery, not the harbour and a bit smaller but a third less. If we had been staying a few days splashing out on a £120 sea view suite room would have been well worth it.Post hot blissful shower we spent our evening in the characterful public areas, restaurant, bar and village.

Dinner was stunning, seafood and more, and very very reasonable, as were the wine and bar prices. I would come back here for a short break in a shot. Apparently they are going to start doing mountain biking, sea kayaking and other activities and I suspect these will be very reasonable cost too.  It would have been nice to have had the time to go to the end of the road, explore Islay properly. Climb a Pap or two. Sea Kayaking, fishing.  We are already realising we need twice the time at least!
Craighouse Harbour
As it says on the photo!
After dinner we sauntered around town. we missed a gin tasting that had been on the previous evening and had drained the island of Botanist Gin!
Swanning Around 10pm
Jura is just idyllic.
Touring Tips in Scotland

1 Plan Sundays carefully when touring, shops, cafés and tourist attractions are often shut. The Sabbath is still very important in these areas. I wish it was elsewhere, makes for a nicer pace of life.

2 If you have the time allow 2-3 days per destination. 

3 Every ferry port is at sea level. Every ferry destination means the first few kilometres are littered with expletives as you battle up the first hill cold!

Tour d'Ecosse quick links:

Day 1 Isle of Arran and a little Mull of Kintyre
Day 2 Inner Hebrides: Isles of Islay and Jura
Day 3 Inner Hebrides: Isle of Jura-Tayvallich to Oban
Day 4 Oban to Outer Hebrides: Barra and Vatersay
Day 5 Outer Hebrides: Isles of Barra Eriskay South Uist Benbecula Grimsay North Uist Beneray and Harris
Day 6 Outer Hebrides: Isles of Harris and Lewis to Callanish Stones
Day 7 Outer Hebrides: Butt of Ness to Stornoway and Ullapool
Day 8 Ullapool to Gairloch
Day 9 Gairloch to Shieldaig - Applecross Peninsula
Day 10 Bealach na Bà from Applecross to Plockton
Day 11 Plockton to Inner Hebrides: Isle of Skye Armadale
Day 12 Inner Hebrides: Isle of Skye Armadale to Ardnamurchan
Day 13 Ardnamurchan to Inner Hebrides: Isle of Mull to Oban to Loch Melfort
Day 14 Loch Melfort to Tarbert, Loch Fyne
Day 15 Tarbert Loch Fyne to Ardrossan THE END!

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