Logo: small map of Scotland
Link to Area Info Page containing local information and links, contacts & tourist advice







Holiday 
Cottages all over Scotland in beautiful locations
Traditional Holiday Cottages
all over Scotland in stunning locations
Chapel and Cross at Kilnave
Chapel and Cross at Kilnave
Port Charlotte on Islay
Port Charlotte on Islay
Jura and Islay Ferries
Jura and Islay Ferries
Isle of Jura Distillery
Isle of Jura Distillery

Islay, Jura & Colonsay Main Page

The islands of Islay, Jura and Colonsay together form the most southerly island group in the Western Isles. For accommodation on the islands see the links in the menu on the right. See the map below for an outline of the islands and links to connecting areas.

Colonsay is one of the most remote of Scotland's populated islands and, if you include the tidal island of Orosay at its southern end, is some 10 miles long by about two and a half wide. Colonsay has a deeply indented coastline and the ferry terminal is in the main village of Scalasaig. The island offers visitors wildlife, beautiful scenery and a sense of seclusion: plus a range of accommodation providers and other services including the Isle of Colonsay Hotel.

Measuring some 30 miles long by seven miles wide and aligned from north east to south west, Jura is the wildest and emptiest of all Scotland's inhabited islands. Most of the population of the island lives in the village of Craighouse with others living in the tiny settlements strung out along Jura's only road, single track and running around the south of the island and up the southern two thirds of its east side.

Craighouse looks out over Small Isles Bay, which as the name implies is protected by a group of islands collectively known as the Small Isles. Craighouse is home to the Jura Hotel, the Jura Stores, Jura Hall, and Jura Parish Church. The centre of the village is dominated by the Isle of Jura Distillery. This was established in 1810, expanded in the 1870s, and closed in the early 1900. Most of what you see today dates back to a complete rebuilding in the early 1960s and an expansion in the 1970s.

The hamlet of Keils lies just to the north of Craighouse and contains both traditional crofthouses and their more modern equivalents, and many ruins. The nearby cemetery at Kilearnadil is the location of a mausoleum erected to commemorate the Campbell family. The road north continues along the east coast to Lagg. This was once the terminus for a drovers' ferry to Keillmore on the mainland, which used the slipway and pier built here in 1810. The nearby drovers' inn is now a farmhouse. Other tiny settlements along the road north include Tarbert, Inverlussa and Ardlussa. Not far north of Ardlussa the public road becomes a private track, which leads to Barnhill.

Islay is the most southerly of the Western Isles. It measures about 25 miles from north to south by 20 miles from east to west, and forms an irregular shape that defies easy description. Visitors usually reach Islay via the car ferry which operates from Kennacraig on the mainland to the island's ferry terminals at Port Askaig and Port Ellen. Meanwhile, Islay Airport offers regular flights to and from Glasgow.

Port Ellen, on the south coast of the island, is the second largest settlement in terms of population and wraps around two bays separated by the busy harbour, from where you can catch the ferry to the mainland. One of the bays is overlooked by St John's Church. A road heads east from here to three of the island's distilleries, Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. Four miles beyond Ardbeg is the magnificent Kildalton Cross with a ruined church and a number of fascinating grave slabs.

Islay, Jura & Colonsay, Showing Main Settlements & Connecting Areas
Islay, Jura & Colonsay, Showing Main Settlements & Connecting Areas

Heading west from Port Ellen takes you along a minor road over the Mull of Oa, past the ruined chapel beside Kilnaughton Bay. A walk of a little under a mile from the end of the road across the Mull of Oa, brings you to the American Monument. North from Port Ellen two roads cross a broad peaty hinterland. The "high road" is single track and leads to Bridgend, the hub of the island. The "low road" sticks closer to the shore of Laggan Bay, and is wider, and dead straight for nearly seven miles, but it is also very bumpy as it floats on peat. This road passes Islay Airport en route to the island's capital, the village of Bowmore.

Bowmore looks out over Loch Indaal, a broad and shallow sea loch biting deeply into the west side of Islay. The village has a great deal of character, and is dominated by the Round Church at the top of the hill, and by the white painted Bowmore Distillery near the harbour.

Following the road around the shore of Loch Indaal brings you to the small settlement of Bridgend. Concealed by woods to the north is Islay House, the traditional home of the Campbells of Islay. Nearby is Islay House Square, home to a number of interesting craft businesses and their shops, and to Islay Ales, the island's only brewery. If you head east from Bridgend you pass through Islay's only significant inland settlement, Ballygrant. Close by is Finlaggan, a loch and islands which formed the administrative heart of the medieval Lordship of the Isles.

This road concludes at Port Askaig, the second port of call for the car ferry from the mainland and the terminus for the smaller ferry across the Sound of Islay to Jura. Reached by minor roads on the shore of the Sound of Islay north of Port Askaig are two distilleries, Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain.

Back at Bridgend, another roads leads around the shore of Loch Indaal. This passes Bruichladdich Distillery and St Kiaran's Church en route to Port Charlotte. This attractive village is home to the Museum of Islay Life and the Natural History Visitor Centre. The road beyond Port Charlotte leads you south west to the island's most westerly point, and the twin villages of Portnahaven and Port Wemyss, complete with Portnahaven Parish Church. A loop of minor road north from Portnahaven to Port Charlotte passes the fascinating ruined chapel at Kilchiaran. Further north is Kilchoman, home to Kilchoman Distillery. Nearby is the ruined Kilchoman Church, with a beautiful carved cross in the churchyard, while another almost fallen carved cross stands in a nearby field close to a military cemetery.

Loch Gruinart is a sandy sea loch which bites deeply into the north coast of Islay. At its head is the excellent Loch Gruinart Nature Reserve, run by the RSPB. Overlooking the loch a little further north is the ruined chapel and standing cross at Kilnave: a truly beautiful location with a rather grisly history.

Top of Page Top of Page