islay And Jura Loop

Further From Ireland

Route length: 90 miles

A church or sacred site

Destination hub

Jura Parish Church, Craighouse, Jura

This little church, serving the whole of the island of Jura, was originally built in 1777. In 1842 a rear wing was added, to make it a T-plan structure. The interior was renovated in 1922.


This site is featured in Scotland’s Churches Trust guide book Argyll & The Clyde, reference number 63.

You can see more details on the SCT website.

St Kiaran’s Parish Church, near Port Charlotte, Islay

The former Kilchoman Parish Church, Islay

Kilarrow Parish Church, Bowmore, Islay

Portnahaven Parish Church, Islay

St John’s Parish Church, Port Ellen, Islay

By Road

Take the ferry from Kennacraig. After disembarking at Port Ellen travel east to Kidalton church. Then retrace your route to Port Ellen. Now go north on the A846 by way of Bowmore. At Bridgend turn left on to the A847. Follow the coast through Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte to Portnahaven. Take the Kilchiaran route back to Port Charlotte. Follow the coast road back through Bruichladdich before bearing left on to the B8018. Bear left on to a minor road to reach Kilchoman. Now go around the north side of Loch Gorm and then north on the B8018 to Kilnave, with its early cross. Turn back southwards, and then east to Bridgend. Here go northeast on the A846 to Port Askaig, making the short detour to Finlaggan – the centre of The Lordship of the Isles in previous centuries.

From Port Askaig take a ferry back to the mainland, or continue on to Jura.

There is only one road on Jura to follow.

By Cycle

Take the ferry from Kennacraig. After disembarking at Port Ellen cycle east to Kidalton church. Then retrace your route to Port Ellen.

Now leave Port Ellen on the A846 going north, and branch off on to the B8016 to Bridgend. At Bridgend turn left on to the A847. Follow the coast through Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte to Portnahaven. From Portnahaven continue to Kilchiaran. From here either return to Port Charlotte and take the same route as drivers to Kilchoman, or take the track used by walkers. Now go around the north side of Loch Gorm and then north on the B8018 to Kilnave, with its early cross. Turn back southwards, branching left off the B8017 at Gruinart Flats. Then join the A847 into Bridgend. Here go northeast on the A846 to Port Askaig, making the short detour to Finlaggan – the centre of The Lordship of the Isles in previous centuries.

From Port Askaig take a ferry back to the mainland, or continue on to Jura.

There is only one road on Jura to follow. This turns into a track towards the north end of the island.

By Foot

On Islay walkers can follow the track from  Kilchiaran to Kilchoman.

On Jura, walkers can follow the track to Kinuachdrachd Harbour, and may then wish to continue to the northern tip to view The Gulf of Corryvreckan (a 9 mile walk from Ardlussa).

By Public Transport

Scottish CityLink operate a coach service from Glasgow (Buchanan Street Bus Station) to Kennacraig ferry terminal. There are four buses a day in each direction but not all of them tie in with ferries. www.citylink.co.uk

CalMac sail regularly from Kennacraig to Port Ellen and Port Askaig on Islay.

There is a regular ferry between Port Askaig on Islay and Feolin on Jura (http://www.islayinfo.com/jura-ferry.html)

There is a seasonal passenger ferry (cycles can also be carried) between Craighouse on Jura and Tayvallich. http://www.jurapassengerferry.com/#/timetable/4561727076

Flybe www.flybe.com  flies between Glasgow and Islay

Bus routes on Islay serve:
Portnahaven - Bowmore - Port Ellen – Ardbeg
Port Askaig - Bridgend - Bowmore - Port Ellen – Ardbeg
Ardbeg - Bowmore - Bridgend – Portnahaven
Ardbeg - Bowmore - Bridgend - Port Askaig; service 451 and 456

The Jura Bus is operated by Garelochhead Coaches and travels between Feolin Ferry to Craighouse and north up the island to Inverlussa

Details of transport to and from Jura, and of the bus which runs between Feolin Ferry to Craighouse  can be found through http://www.juradevelopment.co.uk/how-to-get-here/

Public transport information can be found on the Traveline website.

The southern Hebrides are imbued with Columba’s spiritual influence. On Colonsay Columba founded a daughter community from Iona, having perhaps made another landing place at Oronsay at the southern end, from where Ireland was still visible. Mountainous Jura, with the Corryvreckan whirlpool at its northern end, is a likely location for Columba’s special  retreat, while Islay’s spacious landscape was later home to successive Lords of the Isles, principal patrons of Iona and the medieval Church in western Scotland.

To understand these connections you need good sea legs as well as a map. The ferries from Kennacraig (5 miles southwest of Tarbert) go to Port Ellen in southern Islay and Port Askaig on the east. From Port Askaig you can make the short hop to Jura or continue to Colonsay. Both routes, in Columba’s time, could be searoads north to Iona. Columba’s principal settlement was not remote but a crossroads. This was its making as a centre of the Celtic world, and later its undoing when Norse raiders arrived on the same sea routes.

By land on Islay, you can circuit from Port Ellen by the Kildalton Cross, Bowmore, Portnahaven, Kilchiaran, Kilchoman, Kilnave, and Finlaggan to Port Askaig. These names with their associated churches, ruined chapels and carved crosses, breathe a rich Christian heritage. On Jura there is just one principal road north. If Columba’s retreat was here it would have been at the rocky north end looking onto Corryvreckan, which is recognised to this day as a remarkable place of natural power and cosmic energy.

Travelling to the edge,
barrier of the western waves
plains of the Atlantic sea,
islands washed by light,
rinsed by sharp salt water,
we find the viewing points
and look out to far horizons,
wide spaces, outside and within.

Sun Cross, salt wave
Green sea, blue hill
White foam, deep dark,
Let every changing colour
Sing creation’s hymn,
Make in your eyes.
The sign of hope
And bridge across
The stormy waters-
Peace haven for your soul.

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