10 Port Wemyss to Eyemouth Other

Map 61 – Jura

Jura distillery and Craighouse

The Isle of Jura is a large, mountainous and empty place, just across a narrow sound of water from Islay, to which it is linked by a regular car ferry. It only takes about 10 minutes to make the crossing from Port Askaig, a small but colourful cluster of buildings and boats on the Islay side, to Feolin, a small and colourless waiting room on the Jura side. The service is somewhat less than regular on a Sunday; but regular enough to allow us to spend a day there and get back again, which was lucky, because there was no room for us at the inn.

Jura ferry, Feolin

The weather this morning on Islay and Jura was not the best. We were helped the 18 miles to Port Askaig by a westerly wind and we didn’t actually have too much proper rain, but it was grey and damp all morning and the cloud was low, so you really couldn’t see very much. You especially couldn’t see the Paps of Jura, which dominate the skyline on a clear day, even from across on Islay.

Once on Jura there is really only one place that offers anything by way of sustenance or shelter, and that is the island’s only real village, Craighouse. It lies on an east facing, island-studded bay eight miles around the coast from Feolin up the only road. Luckily, The Antlers bistro was open on a Sunday morning (unlike the island’s only shop) and we took advantage with a full Scottish breakfast to set us up for the cycling ahead.


The light rain had just about stopped by 12.15pm as we set off up the island. The tiny single track A road runs north for a further 17 miles and then gives up completely at Inverlussa Bay, still 8 miles from where George Orwell stayed in the farmhouse at Barnhill and wrote 1984. It would require hours more walking from here, or perhaps a mountain bike or a boat, to reach.

The long road from Craighouse to Inverlussa is quite hilly and it passes very little on the way except trees and the open sea. Just before Inverlussa I turned a corner and found myself surrounded by a herd of large red deer stags, grazing in an open clearing. I counted at least twelve. They stared at me and I stared back, and after a minute or two we all returned to our previous business.

Red deer stags at Inverlussa

Your prize for reaching the tiny settlement of Inverlussa is a beautiful sandy bay, and ”Tea on the Beach”, a serve yourself honesty-based cake and drinks stall in a horse box like trailer. It is run by 6 local kids who took it over from their parents. There were three types of home made cake on offer today: I went for pineapple upside down cake. Yum!

Tea on the Beach, Inverlussa

And then it was a quick 25 miles back to Feolin in time to get the 4.30pm ferry over to Port Askaig and then wait an hour for the 6pm Calmac ferry to take us to the mainland and to map 62. That just left time for a pint on the front lawn of the Port Askaig Hotel. There were a few other people there, enjoying the dry, almost sunny weather. Blue sky had already been spotted a few times. The Paps of Jura were not fully out; but you could at least see where they were and everything now had a bit of colour about it.

And then from around the corner, without warning, the “Finlaggan” Calmac car ferry appeared from nowhere, dwarfing the other boats and buildings. The pilot turned and brought it gently up to the terminal as if parking a car. A man with a pint in the garden next to us waved up to the bridge of the ship. Apparently he was until recently the captain of this vessel and he was retiring after 40 years of service. He had always been jealous of the people he saw in the pub garden with their beer, waving up at him, and now it was his turn!

The Finlaggan arrives

Two hours later and we were back on the mainland. Our bikes had their own special storage room on the car deck, which was a first. I had fish and chips. Jenni went one better and had macaroni cheese and chips. And peas. When in Rome.

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