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Day One – An exhilarating hop from Glasgow to Islay
Much of the romance has been removed from modern air travel, especially on short-haul flights. Flying to Islay couldn’t be more different. In a turboprop craft with 34 seats, cruising at just 8,000 feet over some of the world’s most breath-taking scenery, this is a flight to remember, leaving the bustling city behind and in around 40 minutes landing amidst the tranquillity and beauty of the Isle of Islay (pronounced eye-lah). Collect your hire car at the airport and make for your recently refurbished hotel in the heart of the charming village of Bowmore.
Your guest house on Islay
Situated in the heart of the 18th-century ‘island capital’ of Bowmore, this historic whitewashed inn by the harbour has seen a host of changes over the years. Most recently it’s been brought up to date with stylish en-suite bedrooms featuring splashes of tweed and contrasting earthy tones, while downstairs you’ll find a new conservatory with gorgeous views across Loch Indaal. What a great spot in which to enjoy a dram.
The hotel’s award-winning restaurant offers an “a la carte” menu incorporating seasonal dishes using the finest locally sourced produce, while for more informal dining, the lounge bar offers an all-day menu.
With the history of Bowmore and the loch shimmering at the doorstep, the Harbour Inn is surely one of the most evocative places to stay on Islay.
Day Two & Three – The beauty of Islay
Once the ancestral seat of the Lords of the Isles, Islay is a fertile island of low heather-clad hills, attractive beaches, numerous historical sites and more whisky distilleries than any other Scottish island! (We can help and advise on arranging tours of any which are of interest.)
A haven for hill-walkers and bird-watchers, it is home to the huge Loch Gruinart bird sanctuary and its vast numbers of migrating geese. In the island capital, Bowmore (where you will be based) you can visit the unusual Round Church (no corners for the devil to hide in!) or, if history is your thing, the Museum of Island Life in Port Charlotte is well worth a visit, as are the ruins of Finlaggan Castle, home of the Macdonald chiefs, and Kildalton Chapel with its early Christian cross.
Day Four – The lure of Jura
Take the short ferry crossing from Port Askaig on Islay to Feolin on Jura and you’ll be immediately struck by the contrasts between these neighbouring islands. Where Islay is fertile and relatively populous, Jura is mountainous, at times visually intimidating and seemingly deserted – and these are Jura’s USPs.
A 30-minute drive from Feolin along an often-empty single-track road brings you to the village of Craighouse, the island’s main settlement, where you’ll find your accommodation for the next two days.
Once here, you’ll be met by the most enthusiastic of local guides and taken on a tour of some of the island’s hidden highlights, including its wild East coast – watch out for red deer and sea eagles – and to the Northwest corner, perhaps for tea and cake on the beach, delivered fresh to each visitor.
Returning to Craighouse, board the Rib for an exhilarating hour with another terrific local guide, and the chance to see the island from this stunning perspective.
Your hotel on Jura
Right next-door to Jura distillery, this long-established family run hotel, featuring a cosy bar popular with the locals and a much-acclaimed restaurant, is the perfect base from which to uncover the charms of the Isle of Jura. The friendly proprietors are only too happy to impart the wealth of knowledge they possess about their island home and its wild inhabitants, and you’re bound to find yourself in conversation with locals and visitors alike, telling tales of the island and perhaps discovering just that bit more than you’ll find out from the guidebooks.
Day Five – More of Jura
With just 200-or-so inhabitants sharing the island with over 6,000 deer, it’s pretty easy to get away from it all on Jura. George Orwell lived here in the 1940s in a remote farmhouse while he finished Nineteen Eighty-Four, and a four-mile trek from the end of the road north of your hotel is what’s required to visit the house today. Not for the casual walker!
Jura is teeming with wildlife, with 100 or more species of bird, including golden and sea eagles, hen harriers, buzzards and various owls. Seals can easily be spotted on the shore, basking on the rocks, and if you’re really lucky you might spot an otter or two. Simply walk or drive the road around the island to catch a glimpse of any number of species. There’s fabulous walking on Jura for the novice and expert alike; your hotel hosts will be only too happy to advise you of the best routes at whatever level you prefer. Jura Bike Hire operates just a short walk from your hotel, and on calmer days this is a great way to see more of the island
Day Six – Return home
You’ll have time to do a little more exploring today, or just relax and watch the world go by for a couple of hours, before making your way back to the ferry to Islay, and your thrilling return flight to Glasgow, or Edinburgh.
Fly from Glasgow or Edinburgh to Islay, then ferry to Jura.
£895 per person for February, March & November, £955 per person for April & October, £995 per person for May to September.
Prices based on two people sharing a room for five nights on a bed & breakfast basis. The holiday also includes return flights from Glasgow, the hire of an economy size car during your stay, and a guided tour and boat trip from Jura.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.
We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.
Clear understanding of the detail. Created a sense of personal commitment to the success of the tour.Andrew & Elizabeth, Sydney, Australia
This holiday can be arranged from February until November, starting any day of the week apart from Saturdays.
To check the latest availability for this holiday complete the form below or call us. We will respond to your availability check within one working day if at all possible. Please bear with us on this - we work with a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses, and other independent businesses, ensuring that you have the chance to explore off the beaten track and really get under the skin of the destination.
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