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Walking Level 2Isles of Arran, Islay & Jura

This luxury hiking trip will take us to Arran in the Firth of Clyde, and to Islay and Jura, the most southerly islands of the Inner Hebrides. We will stay in small 4-star country house hotels, so that you may relax in comfort after your day out walking.

Highlights

  • Walking between the Neolithic and early Bronze Age monuments on Machrie Moor
  • Boat trip to and hike on Holy Isle
  • The sandy beaches, dunes and rocky shores of Ardnave, Islay
  • Hike to a lochan surrounded by the Paps of Jura
  • Whisky distillery tour

Introduction to your luxury walking tour to the Isles of Arran, Islay and Jura, Scotland

Isle of Arran, Firth of Clyde
Arran is often described as "Scotland in miniature" because of its diverse landscape which reflects that of Scotland as a whole. Rugged mountains, beaches, cliffs, farmlands, untamed forests, hills and waterfalls are all packaged together in an area approximately 20 miles long by 10 miles wide.

Arran lies on the Highland Boundary Fault which makes it geologically very interesting, with both Highland and Lowland landscapes. 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.

Walking on Islay, Argyll

Finlaggan, isle of Islay, Argyll


Isle of Islay, Inner Hebrides

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.

We will explore the coastal cliffs and abandoned townships of the Oa peninsula, the dunes of Ardnave as well as ancient chapels and Celtic crosses. We will also visit the former stronghold of the Lords of the Isles at Finlaggan and in the evenings you will have the opportunity, if you wish, to explore attractive 18th and 19th century villages such as Bowmore and Port Charlotte.

Islay has eight 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.


Isle of Jura, Inner Hebrides

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.


Day-by-day Programme

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.

Luxury hiking tour Inner Hebrides Scotland

 

  1. Saturday: Glasgow – Isle of Arran
  2. Sunday: Machrie Moor & King's Cave
  3. Monday: Holy Isle, Glenashdale Falls and the Giants' Graves
  4. Tuesday: Arran – Kintyre – Isle of Islay
  5. Wednesday: Finlaggan and Ardnave
  6. Thursday: Isle of Jura
  7. Friday: Mull of Oa, Kildalton and whisky distillery
  8. Saturday: Isle of Islay - Glasgow


Saturday: Glasgow – Isle of Arran

We will drive from Glasgow to Ardrossan in Ayrshire for the ferry to Brodick on the isle of Arran.

Sunday: Machrie Moor & King's Cave
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.

Walking on Arran, Firth of Lorn

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.

Monday: Holy Isle, Glenashdale Falls, and the Giants' Graves
Today we explore the east of Arran, starting with a short boast 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.

North Arran coast

Coast in the north of Arran

Tuesday: Arran – Kintyre – Isle of Islay
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

Loch Gruinart, Islay, Argyll

Loch Gruinart, Isle of Islay

Wednesday: Finlaggan and Ardnave
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

Thursday: Isle of Jura
In the morning we will sail to the Isle of Jura for a day walk on the island. Our walk will take us to a lochan nestled in the heart of the island, where we will be surrounded by the Paps of Jura, three, distinctive and easily recognised mountains, which dominate the view of Jura from almost any direction.

6 miles/9.5 km with 650ft/200m of ascent.

Walking Isle of Jura

Isle of Jura

Friday: Mull of Oa, Kildalton and whisky distillery
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.

Saturday: Islay - Kennacraig - Inveraray - Loch Lomond - Glasgow
Depart in the morning for the ferry back to Kennacraig. We will drive via Inveraray, the Arrochar Alps and Loch Lomond back to Glasgow.


Isles of Arran, Islay & Jura luxury walking tour photos

Holy Isle from Giant's Graves

Holy Isle from Giant's Graves

Green Tara rock painting, Holy Isle

Green Tara rock painting, Holy Isle

Skipness Castle, Kintyre

Skipness Castle, Kintyre

Ardnave

Ardnave

Isle of Jura walk

Isle of Jura walk

Ardbeg whisky distillery, Islay

Ardbeg whisky distillery, Islay

Kildalton Cross, Islay

Kildalton Cross, Islay

Mull of Oa, Islay

Mull of Oa, Islay


Am I fit enough?

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/10km 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.


Accommodation in Country Houses

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.
Glenisle Hotel, Arran

Isle of Arran: Glenisle Hotel
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.


Bridgend Hotel, Islay

Isle of Islay: Port Charlotte Hotel
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.


Dates & Prices

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.
CodeDatePriceRemarks
AI71 10-17 June 2017

£1645

Luxury country house hotel accommodation, all meals included.
Single room: £345 extra

AI72 26 August-2 September 2017
AI81 12-19 May 2018 £1845
AI82 21-28 July 2018
We may be able to book groups of 4 or more on other dates, please ask.

The price includes:

  • The services of our well-qualified, well-informed and welcoming guide.
  • Small group - usually between 4 and 7.
  • An attractive, well-thought-out walking programme (6 walking days); never more than 6 miles or 4 hours 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 to complement the walks. Some of these visits may themselves involve a short walk from the nearest available parking.
  • Carefully-selected 4-star country house hotels (sharing a double/twin room), breakfast, dinner and picnic lunches on walking days.
  • Transport by minibus, train, ferries and boats, as needed, throughout your holiday and from / to Glasgow / Glasgow airport, at its beginning and end.
  • Walking poles, gaiters and folding sit mat for use during your holiday.
  • Entrance fee to museums, if visited.
  • Whisky distillery tour
  • Short evening get-togethers to set the scene for the next day's walking.

and most especially

  • Personal care and attention in all that we do for you.

For general information and booking, please click here.