Walking on Jura, Islay and Colonsay

By Peter Edwards

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This guidebook to Jura, Scarba, Islay and Colonsay in the Hebrides describes 14 challenging day walks plus a 5-day 77km coastal walk on Jura. The day routes range from 5 to 30km and cover a multitude of rough terrain that is suitable for fit, competent walkers. Even the coastal walks offer challenges.



Spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit, though these routes can be waked all year round. Winter can be wet and wild with short days and in summer midges and bracken can be a real problem.


Jura - Feolin, Craighouse, Tarbert, Ardlussa, Kinachdrachd, Glengarrisdale, Ruantallain, Cruib, Glenbatrick Bay. Islay - Port Askaig, Port Ellen, Port Charlotte, Bowmore, Bridgend, Ballygrant, Bunnahabhain, Ardbeg. Colonsay - Scalasaig, Oronsay, Kilchattan, Kiloran. Scarba - Kilmory Lodge, Gleann a' Mhaoil bothy


The west coast of Jura, a round of the Paps or an ascent of Cruach Scarba should only be undertaken by fit, experienced walkers who are competant navigators and equiped for rough terrain and wet weather. Walking on Islay and Colonsay is more accessible, though navigation, weather and terrain remains difficult.
Must See

Must See

The wild and remote wet coast of Jura with spectacular geological formations and diverse wildlife. The coastal routes on Islay and Colonsay with dramatic landscapes, beautiful white sandy bays and challenging walks. The summit of Cruach Scarba between the infamous tidal races of the Gulf of Corryvreckan and the Grey Dog.
Out of Stock
20 Jan 2014
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.4cm
  • Overview

    The Southern Hebrides are an undiscovered walker’s paradise – the west coast of Jura has dramatic geology, glorious empty beaches and abundant wildlife, with the inhospitable and rugged Scarba lying a kilometre to the north in the infamous Gulf of Corryvreckan. Islay is famous for its birdlife, its historical sites and its distilleries and Colonsay has a tranquil character all of its own that echoes much of the natural splendour of its neighbours.

    The terrain can be tough and trackless but the clear descriptions will introduce experienced walkers to some of the finest wilderness walking in the British Isles. This guidebook provides detailed descriptions of 15 challenging coastal and hill walks on the often rugged, but sublimely beautiful islands of the Southern Hebrides including an epic five-day route around the west coast of Jura.

    The 14 day routes range from 3 to 17 miles long, with options to extend and shortcut some routes, while the five-day coastal walk covers 48 miles. A round of all three Paps of Jura is included, and makes for a big day's walk, involving 1500m of ascent and descent.

    These are mostly demanding routes suitable only for fit, competent and well-equipped walkers. The terrain is extremely varied and often challenging, and almost entirely without waymarks or established footpaths. However, the rewards for the adventurous walker are manifold. The routes included in this guidebook traverse some breathtakingly beautiful scenery full of historical interest and are alive with a profusion of plants and wildlife. Even walking on the coastal routes is far from straightforward as there are many impassable sections where the shoreline has to be abandoned for higher ground or other natural features need to be negotiated.

  • Contents

    Getting to the Southern Hebrides
    Getting between the islands
    Maps and route finding
    Safety and emergencies
    What to take
    Walk 1 The West Coast Walk
    Day 1 Kinuachdrachd to Glengarrisdale
    Alternative: Road End to Glengarrisdale
    Day 2 Glengarrisdale to Shian Bay
    Day 3 Shian Bay to Cruib Lodge
    Day 4 Cruib Lodge to Glenbatrick Bay
    Alternative: Glenbatrick Bay to the A846 via Glen Batrick
    Walk 2 Tarbet to Cruib Lodge bothy
    Walk 3 Glengarrisdale to Cruib across Jura’s northern hills
    Walk 4 Walking the Paps of Jura
    Walk 5 Evans’ Walk to Glenbatrick Bay and return
    Walk 6 Cruach Scarba
    Walk 7 Rhuvaal and the north-west coast
    Walk 8 An Cladach–Beinn Bheigier circuit
    Walk 9 The Oa peninsula
    Walk 10 Sanaigmore to Kilchiaran
    Walk 11 Ardnave to Sanaigmore
    Walk 12 South Colonsay coast and Oronsay
    Walk 13 Lower Kilchattan to Kiloran Bay
    Walk 14 Kiloran Bay to Scalasaig around the coast
    Walk 15 Scalasaig to Kiloran Bay along the Old Road

    Appendix A Route summary table
    Appendix B Walks on other islands
    Appendix C Accommodation
    Appendix D Other useful contacts
    Appendix E Glossary
    Appendix F Further reading

  • Maps

    Maps and route finding

    It is essential that you are equipped with the appropriate maps for undertaking the walks described in this guide. There are almost no waymarks, signposts or even paths of any kind on the routes covered here, making accurate route finding all the more important. Even walking on the coastal routes is far from straightforward as there are many impassable sections where the shoreline has to be abandoned for higher ground or other natural features need to be negotiated. This guide incorporates Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 mapping with highlighted routes. These should be used in conjunction with OS Explorer 1:25,000 maps because of the greater topographic detail they afford. Do not rely solely on the maps in this guidebook. You will need to work out where you are in the wider context, if you need to abandon your walk and make for the nearest road or habitation.

    Wild goat and deer tracks can be useful for negotiating the often challenging terrain – especially on Jura and Islay (there are no deer on Colonsay), but these should be followed with a degree of caution.

    The walks described in this guide are covered by the following Ordnance Survey maps:

    • OS Explorer 1:25,000 sheet 355 Jura and Scarba
    • OS Explorer 1:25,000 sheet 353 Islay North
    • OS Explorer 1:25,000 sheet 352 Islay South
    • OS Explorer 1:25,000 sheet 354 Colonsay and Oronsay
    • OS Landranger 1:50,000 sheet 60 Islay
    • OS Landranger 1:50,000 sheet 61 Jura and Colonsay
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    We are always grateful to readers for information about any discrepancies between a guidebook and the facts on the ground. If you would like to send some information to us then please use our contact form. They will be published here following review by the author(s).

  • Reviews
    The Southern Hebrides could have been designed for walkers​.

    The Southern Hebrides could have been designed for walkers. This guide has that all-enticing attribute - variety.

    Scottish Islands Explorer

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Peter Edwards

Since moving to Scotland from the south of England in 2006, Peter has developed a passion for the Hebrides. He lives at Rhenigidale on the Isle of Harris with his wife, Fiona and their Labradors, Dougal and Mara.

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