Finlaggan, isle of Islay, Argyll
Arran lies on the Highland Boundary Fault and is often described as "Scotland in miniature" because of its diverse landscape which reflects that of Scotland as a whole. The northern part of the island is very much a mini Highlands with spectacular granite peaks, corries and wooded glens. In contrast the south of the island has sweeping moorlands and wide sandy beaches. We will explore both during our hikes.
There are traces of settlements on Arran as far back as 4,000 BC although it is thought there might have been inhabitants going back as far as 7,000 BC. The island is protected on its western side by the Kintyre peninsula, and to the east by the Ayrshire coast. The Gulf Stream keeps the waters of Arran warmer than the norm and this is why there are many palm trees and other exotic plants dotted all round the island.
Islay, once home of the MacDonald ‘Lords of the Isles’, is famous for the malt whiskies from its many distilleries as well as for its farming, bird life, fishing and shooting. Hills, moors and machair (fertile ground near the coast) are bordered by an infinitely varied coastline of rocks, beaches and dunes, salt marshes and cliffs. Good walking country.
Islay has nine malt whisky distilleries. The distilleries in the south of the island produce the most strongly flavoured, phenolic whiskies in Scotland. The distilleries to the north tend to produce whisky of a lighter character.
Jura, nearly as large as Islay, is wild and infinitely more rugged. Its distinctive landmark hills - the Paps - are visible from vantage points all over Argyll, and from places as far apart as Ben Nevis and the Irish coast. Red deer outnumber people here many times over.
The programme will be subject to variables such as weather and the abilities of the group and changes may also be made to take account of lambing, deer stalking, etc. Any such alterations will always take into account the need to maintain the overall character of the holiday.
We will drive from Glasgow to Ardrossan in Ayrshire for the ferry to Brodick on the isle of Arran.
We begin the day with a visit to the Neolithic and early Bronze Age monuments on Machrie Moor, where the moorland is littered with the remains of hut circles, chambered cairns, and standing stones. It is one of the most important sites of its kind in Britain.
Machrie Moor, Isle of Arran
Our exploration of the west coast of Arran continues with a walk to the King’s Cave, where King Robert the Bruce is reputed to have hidden after a defeat in A.D. 1306. The caves may have been used from the Iron Age onwards, and there are ancient carvings on the walls of animals, Pictish symbols, and crosses.
5 miles/8 km with little ascent.
Today we explore the east of Arran, starting with a short boat ride across Lamlash Bay to Holy Isle. Holy Isle rises to a thousand feet above the sea, and was the site of an early Christian monastery. Today it is home to a Buddhist retreat. We will walk to the southern point of the island.
In the afternoon we will walk to the Glenashdale Falls. A shorter and a longer fall plunge gracefully into a deep, wooded gorge. From the falls we continue uphill and visit the ancient Giants’ Graves, the remains of two large burial cairns from the Neolithic period. From the Graves there are good views towards Holy Isle.
6 miles/9.5 km with 800ft/245m of ascent.
Before we leave Arran, we will have a short walk to the most northerly point of Arran to the white cottage at Fairy Dell, rumoured to be a gateway to the land of fairies. Don't get distracted by them.
After our walk we will take the ferry from Lochranza to the Kintyre peninsula where we will visit 13th century Skipness Castle and Kilbrannan Chapel.
In the late afternoon we catch the ferry from Kennacraig to the Isle of Islay.
3 miles/5 km with 325ft/100m of ascent
We start the day with a visit to Finlaggan, once the home of the Lords of the Isles, who ruled over Western Scotland from the 13th to the 16th centuries. The remains of these ancient buildings rest on prehistoric ‘crannogs’ (artificial islands in a loch).
In the afternoon we go to Ardnave, overlooking Loch Gruinart. On our way we pass the Gruinart Flats, a haven for wading birds and migrating geese. We will walk around the coast via Ardnave Point. This is pleasant walking on sandy beaches, dunes and rocky shores, offering wide views towards Colonsay, and hopefully the chance of spotting some seals.
About 5 miles/8 km with little ascent
Isle of Jura
In the morning we will sail to the Isle of Jura for a day walk on the island. After arriving on Jura, we'll drive north for our walk around Lowlandman's Bay. We'll climb up An Dunan, one of the best preserved hill fords on Jura. Its name literally means 'The Little Fort' and describes perfectly the site perched on top of a natural rock outcrop by the shore. We continue past the Lighthouses, which once housed the keepers for the lighthouse out on the skerry at Skervuile to the southeast, before reaching the jetty into the bay where seals bask on the rocks. Along the way there are great views towards the Paps of Jura and mainland Argyll.
6.5 miles/10.5 km with 375ft/115m of ascent.
We will enjoy an airy cliff top walk on the Oa peninsula (‘oa’ pronounced simply ‘o’). The stretch between spectacular Dun Athad, on its narrow headland, and the high monument on the Mull itself is as grand a stretch of coast as any in the islands and should certainly blow the cobwebs away. If visibility is particularly good we will see both the Irish and mainland Scottish coasts, reminding us of the close ancient links between Scotland, Islay and Ireland.
In the afternoon, we visit the ruins of Kildalton Chapel, built in the 13th century, is our first stop of the day. Next to the chapel stands a 12 feet (4m) high Celtic cross dating from the first millennium AD.
Afterwards we will have a tour of the Laphroaig whisky distillery on the south coast of Islay. This is the only distillery on Islay that is still malting on site.
4 miles/6.5km with 330ft/100m of ascent.
Depart in the morning for the ferry back to Kennacraig. We will drive via Inveraray, the Arrochar Alps and Loch Lomond back to Glasgow.
This walking tour is an excellent introduction to hiking in Scotland for people with good basic fitness. The holiday combines walking with visits to places of interest. Daily distances won't exceed 6 miles/10 km plus varying amounts of ascent, and we don't expect to hike for longer than 4 hours (plus stops). Most of the hiking will be on paths, tracks or quiet roads, although the surfaces can be wet and rough. There will be some steep sections along the way, but no climbs greater than 1200 feet/365m, even in total.
If you're still not sure whether or not you can cope after you've read this along with the details of the week's programme, please get in touch to discuss it further.
We will stay in small 4-star country house hotels that have a reputation for care and for excellent Scottish food, so you can relax in comfort after your day out walking. Evening meals will be in the hotels and are included in the price.
The Glenisle Hotel opened it's doors in 1849 and has been at the heart of the charming village of Lamlash ever since. The location, looking directly across the sea to the majestic Holy Isle is certainly one of the most spectacular on this beautiful island.
Since a major refurbishment in 2008 the Glenisle Hotel & Restaurant is establishing a reputation throughout Scotland for its warm and stylish ambiance and its great, relaxed atmosphere.
Port Charlotte Hotel offers luxury accommodation, fine dining and a friendly atmosphere.
The front part of the hotel was built in 1829 as 3 cottages, before it was transformed into a hotel. The residents' lounge and public bar feature open fires where guests can unwind with convivial company. Local musicians play regularly in the bar.
Each room is individually decorated using high quality fabrics and furnishings reflecting the mood and colour of the area to ensure your comfort and relaxation.
|Description||8 days (Saturday to Saturday), accommodation on the Isle of Arran (3 nights) and the isle of Islay (4 nights) in carefully selected 4-star country house hotels.|
|Walking||An attractive, well-thought-out walking programme; no more than 6 miles/10km in a day, and mostly on paths or tracks - though paths may be wet and/or rough in places. An equally attractive programme of visits to places of interest complement the walks.|
|AI231||13-20 May 2023||£2500||Luxury country house hotel accommodation, all meals included.
Single room: £480 extra
|AI232||12-19 August 2023|
|We may be able to book groups of 4 or more on other dates, please ask.|
and most especially
For general information and booking, please click here.