Walking on Jura, Islay and Colonsay
23 wild walks in the Southern Hebrides
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Guidebook to Jura, Scarba, Islay and Colonsay in the Hebrides, describing 22 walks plus a 5-day 89km trek along Jura's remote west coast. The routes range from 6.5 to 25km and cover rough - and often pathless - terrain suitable for fit, competent walkers. Even the coastal walks offer challenges.
SeasonsSpring and autumn are the best seasons to visit, though these routes can be walked all year round. Winter can be wet and wild with short days, and in summer midges and bracken can be a real problem.
CentresJURA - Feolin, Craighouse, Tarbert, Ardlussa, Kinuachdrachd, 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
DifficultyThe west coast of Jura walk, a round of the Paps or an ascent of Cruach Scarba should only be considered by fit, experienced walkers with strong navigational skills, as there are no waymarks and no footpaths. Walking on Islay and Colonsay is more accessible, but still requires navigational competence. All walkers should be equipped for rough terrain and wet weather.
Must SeeThe wild and remote west coast of Jura - one of the British Isles' last great wilderness walks, with spectacular geological formations and abundant wildlife; the Paps of Jura - a rough, tough hill-walking classic; dramatic land and seascapes from the Islay and Colonsay coasts; the small-island summit of Cruach Scarba, rising from the sea between the infamous tidal races of Corryvreckan and the Grey Dog
This guidebook presents a selection of 23 walking routes on the wild and beautiful southern islands of Scotland's Inner Hebrides, with nine walks on Jura, one on neighbouring Scarba, seven on Islay and five on Colonsay, plus a spectacular 5-day trek along Jura's dramatic west coast. The wildest of the southern Hebrides, the walking on Jura is frequently rugged, with many routes crossing remote and often pathless terrain that calls for fitness, self-reliance and navigational competence. The routes on the other islands are somewhat easier, but should still not be underestimated.
In addition to clear route description illustrated with 1:50,000 OS mapping, the guide offers practical advice on the various options for getting to the islands, accommodation and amenities. There are suggestions for linking walks and notes on the islands' bothies and wild-camping recommendations, making it easy to devise longer day walks or multi-day itineraries. Also included are fascinating overviews of the islands' rich history, geology, plants and wildlife. Beautiful colour photography completes the package.
The routes showcase the islands' magnificent scenery, which is as diverse as it is beautiful, ranging from wild moorland to flower-strewn machair and small pockets of native woodland. The coastline is arguably the jewel in the crown, with geological wonders aplenty: sea-cliffs, caves, stacks and arches, sand and shingle bays and the characteristic Hebridean raised beaches. Abundant wildlife and birdlife is a further highlight. These carefully chosen walks will inspire you to get out and discover the magic of these captivating islands.
Getting to the Southern Hebrides
Getting between the islands
Maps and route-finding
Safety and emergencies
What to take
Using this guide
Walk 1 The Gulf of Corryvreckan
Walk 2 Road End to Glengarrisdale
Walk 3 The west coast walk
Day 1 Ardlussa or Kinuachdrachd to Glengarrisdale
Day 2 Glengarrisdale to Shian Bay
Day 3 Shian Bay to Cruib Lodge
Day 4 Cruib Lodge to Glenbatrick Bay
Day 5 Glenbatrick Bay to Feolin Ferry
Day 5A Glenbatrick Bay to the A846 via Glen Batrick
Walk 4 North Jura coast and glens
Walk 5 Tarbert to Cruib Lodge bothy
Walk 6 Glengarrisdale to Cruib across Jura’s northern hills
Walk 7 Ardlussa to Corpach Bay and Am Miadar
Walk 8 The Paps of Jura
Walk 9 Evans’ Walk to Glenbatrick Bay and return
Walk 10 Glas Bheinn and Dubh Bheinn
Walk 11 Cruach Scarba
Walk 12 Rhuvaal and the north-west coast
Walk 13 An Cladach, McArthur’s Head and the Sound of Islay
Walk 14 An Cladach–Beinn Bheigier circuit
Walk 15 Beinn na Caillich and Beinn Bheigier from Ardtalla
Walk 16 The Oa peninsula
Walk 17 Sanaigmore to Kilchiaran
Walk 18 Ardnave Point
Walk 19 Around Oronsay
Walk 20 South Colonsay coast
Walk 21 Lower Kilchattan to Kiloran Bay
Walk 22 North Colonsay coast
Walk 23 Scalasaig to Kiloran Bay along the Old Road
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Walks on other islands
Appendix C Useful contacts
Appendix D Glossary
Appendix E Further reading
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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.View Articles and Books by Peter Edwards