We have just returned from an utterly unique and memorable stay on the remote Scottish island of Jura. Our first glimpse of the island and its three Paps was just before touching down on our flight from Glasgow to Islay. From there, it was a short drive and a ferry crossing before reaching Jura.
We were blessed with weather not usually associated with Scotland but, for the week we have been away, we have enjoyed glorious sunshine and blue skies more reminiscent of a holiday in the Mediterranean than the west coast of Scotland. Furthermore, we had the privilege of staying in the beautifully stylish Jura Lodge, next door to the Isle of Jura Distillery in Craighouse.
The moment we arrived on the island, after the 5-minute ferry crossing from Port Askaig to Feolin, we were greeted by three red deer peering down upon us as we travelled along what must surely be the UK’s bumpiest A-road.
After a short drive along this single track, we reached the island’s only significant settlement of Craighouse, home to the island’s one shop, one distillery, one hotel (and pub/campsite/petrol station) and one very unique lodge.
Jura Lodge is lavishly adorned with antlers on the walls and with various quirks, from the unlucky 13th step to the wooden seagull in one of the bedrooms that, if you rub it, will bring you luck for the duration of your stay. And, if that wasn’t enough, there’s also Archie, the resident suit of armour in the living area, and purportedly a ghost underneath the farmhouse dining table in the kitchen. In short, the accommodation is perfectly in keeping with the island.
On the first floor of the accommodation there are four double bedrooms, all en suite. The master bedroom offers beautiful views over the bay at Craighouse, as do the two living areas on the second floor above. From here you can marvel at the ever-changing colours over the sea as the sun rises or sets.
Most views from the property look out over Craighouse, its jetty and towards a cluster of islands in the Souind of Jura known collectively as the Small Isles.
On our arrival, after a warm welcome from Catriona, we were thoughtfully provided with all the basics we might initially need, from bread and milk, to a basket of fruit, bottles of wine, Jura whisky and breakfast for the next morning (the breakfast, not the wine and whisky). Housekeeping are at your beck and call should you need them. You can arrange a daily housekeeping service or request special deliveries of fresh seafood or seasonal game – the kind of service that goes above and beyond what you might normally expect from self-catering.
Jura Lodge would serve as an ideal getaway for writers seeking inspiration. Indeed, it was on Jura that George Orwell wrote the classic novel 1984. And the Jura Whisky Writers’ Retreat progamme devised by the Scottish Book Trust with the help of the Jura Distillery has built on that heritage with the publication of ‘Spirit of Jura‘, a compilation of fiction, essays and poems from Jura Lodge.
As well as writers Jura is also a haven for walkers and lovers of wildlife. The three Paps are arguably Jura’s most significant features and are a challenge even to experienced walkers. Those looking for something less arduous could take on the Evans Walk (as we did) or the 15-mile circular walk to a viewpoint for Corryvreckan, the third largest whirlpool in the world, and where Orwell once nearly drowned.
As far as fauna is concerned, deer outnumber people by approximately 30 to 1 on Jura, and seals, otters and other wildlife are all plentiful. The island is also home to golden eagles, sea eagles, buzzards and other bird life, making it and the neighbouring island of Islay something of a birdwatchers’ paradise.
Families with young children will expecially enjoy exploring Jura’s many beaches. Even the adults will, too, particularly at the remote community of Inverlussa at the far end of the road where ‘Tea on the Beach’ is served by a local resident via a walkie-talkie system.
Jura is one of those places that has to be experienced in order for it to be truly appreciated. It is also one of those magical places that, once visited, you are never likely to forget. And the ultimate place to stay on the island is of course Jura Lodge. Stays at the lodge are available from £2,500 per night, with a minimum stay of three nights.