Islay and Jura 2019

5 Days

From £1095pp

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2018 DATES AVAILABLE - view our 2018 tour and departure dates

Exploring Islay and Jura is a study in contrasts: Islay’s verdant fertility plays off against Jura’s mountainous sobriety; the former’s contented bustle underscores the latter’s wild mystery. But these Hebridean cousins also have much in common, as we find out on tour...

With nine working whisky distilleries between them, boundless beautiful beaches, and an abundance of world-class heritage sites, these neighbouring islands are more alike than different.

Still, Islay, an island well-known for its whisky and seabirds, is rightly called ‘The Queen of the Hebrides’. Jura, meanwhile, is perhaps best summed up by the slogan describing its favourite liquid gold export: ‘The Isle of the Unexpected’.

Whatever you decide to call them, we think that the best way to discover these beautiful islands is up to you — spend your third day at leisure, or join our optional excursion to nearby Colonsay for the opportunity to visit Kiloran Bay, taking in the island’s fine gardens and sandy beaches.

The rest of the tour involves a series of experiences that we feel distill the essence of these idiosyncratic isles. Take a trip to Loch Finlaggan, historic site of the ‘Lordship of the Isles’, then head out to Loch Gruinart RSPB Nature Reserve with the hope of spotting the rare red-billed chough; or perhaps even migrant barnacle geese flying in from Greenland.

Of course, no visit to these two whisky-producing wonders would be complete without a trip to at least one distillery: Bowmore, to be exact, where we enjoy a guided tour and take in a wee dram or two along the way...

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Day 1

We depart from our pick-up points and head for Kintyre in western Argyll, in time to catch the ferry from Kennacraig to Port Askaig, Islay. On arrival on Islay we transfer to the Port Askaig Hotel, which has a superb location overlooking the harbour.

Dinner will be served here this evening.

Day 2

Following breakfast our first visit will be to Bowmore Distillery where we enjoy a guided tour. We see how this unique whisky is produced by hand before its matured in Spanish and American oak casks, which give it the unique flavour. We continue the Loch Finlaggan, which was once the centre of the ‘Lordship of the Isles’. We stop for lunch in port Charlotte and, finally today, we will visit the Loch Gruinart RSPB Nature Reserve. We have the opportunity to see many bird species, including various species of geese, birds of prey and the chough, a rare type of crow.

Dinner will be served at the hotel this evening.

Day 3

Following breakfast, you are free to explore Islay at your leisure. Alternatively, you may wish to join the optional excursion to Colonsay. On arrival we visit the gardens of Colonsay House. This is a 30-acre informal woodland garden which is famous for its outstanding collection of species and hybrid rhododendrons and for unusual trees and shrubs sourced from all over the world since the 1930s. Later, we travel to Kiloran Bay, the most famous of Colonsay’s beaches, a crescent of sand over a mile long with waves rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean.

We catch the early evening ferry back to Islay and return to our hotel for dinner.

Day 4

This morning, we travel to the neighbouring island of Jura, which has a record of habitation stretching back over 5000 years. The island, with approximately 200 inhabitants, is 30 miles long and 7 miles wide and is a naturalist’s paradise. The northern end of the island was home to George Orwell, who wrote his masterpiece 1984 while living here at Barnhill. We enjoy a scenic tour before having some free time in Craighouse, a lovely little village and the main settlement on the island with a shop, tearoom, and Jura's distillery.

We return in the afternoon by ferry to Islay. Dinner will be served at our hotel this evening.

Day 5

This morning, we must sadly check out of our hotel. We transfer to Islay’s ferry terminal at Port Ellen, where we catch the ferry to Kennacraig on the mainland. We will break our journey with a stop at the picturesque village of Inveraray on the shores of Loch Fyne, before returning to our original departure points.

What's Included

  • Four nights’ dinner (with wine) bed and breakfast: four nights at the Port Askaig Hotel
  • One lunch included
  • All coaching and ferry transfers in Scotland
  • Visits to Bowmore Distillery, Loch Finlaggan Visitor Centre, Loch Gruinart RSPB, and Jura
  • Optional excursion to Colonsay and Colonsay House Gardens
  • Services of a professional tour manager
  • Porterage at the hotels
  • Gratuities (driver and tour manager)
  • Bottle of mineral water each day

Supplements per person

  • Single room supplement: £120
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2018 DATES AVAILABLE - view our 2018 tour and departure dates

Please note all pick-up points are subject to minimum numbers. All timings given above are approximate and may be changed. They will be confirmed when the joining instructions are sent out, approximately ten days prior to departure.

01/04/2019 from £1095pp

03/06/2019 from £1095pp

09/09/2019 from £1095pp

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Departure points and times

Depart Return
0530 2015
0600 1945
0700 1845
0715 1830
0745 1815
0900 1700