Lussa Gin gave us a tip-off about the Islay Woollen Mill, which is just off the main road to Port Askaig.
Started in 1883 and still going strong, the mill supplies high-end tailors in Savile Row and further afield.
It is most famous for weaving the tweed used in Braveheart and other big name Hollywood productions. Their fabrics are produced on two traditional Dobcross looms and shipped all over the world.
The vibe inside is distinctly down-to-earth – an old building with lots of character filled with old looms, yarn cones, rolls of fabric and weaving paraphernalia, all higgledy-piggledy.
Lucky visitors can get an impromptu tour from the owners and try out the big scissors.
Following on from
A Day on Jura: part 1 – Nothing To See Here. Once you’re out of Craighouse (the main town on Jura) there’s virtually nothing there, and what is there is often out of bounds.
Barnhill, where George Orwell wrote 1984 is beyond the end of the public road, as is Corryvreckan, the third largest whirlpool in the world. Jura is covered in private estates, so we couldn’t see where the KLF burnt a million quid (YouTube) either. Ah well!
At the end of the road we did find
Lussa Gin, a gin distillery run by three local women. Claire, who kindly gave us a tour first came to Jura with the KLF. There’s not much work for women on Jura, so three friends started Lussa Gin.
The botanicals are all grown locally (right outside the door!) and it tastes gorgeous.
Tea on the Beach at Inverlussa.
It’s a horse box converted into a tea room with a selection of freshly-made cakes and an honesty box, run by local school kids. A lovely place to stop before the ferry back to
This the main road on
Jura that runs from the west coast to Ardlussa on the east. There isn’t a lot to see, but the wilderness is part of its charm. George Orwell wrote 1984 here, calling it an ‘un-gettable’ place.
What you can’t miss is ‘the Paps’ of Jura. These three mountains are visible for miles around, and make the island’s skyline easy to identify from any direction. Even though they are omnipresent, they are also strangely out of reach.
Jura is also famous for having more deer than people (around
7,000 deer v 200 people), so there’s always that.
To get there, there is a
car ferry from Port Askaig on Islay to Feolin (a 5-10 minute crossing) or the Jura passenger ferry that runs from Tayvallich on the mainland to Craighouse, the main town on Jura.
Oronsay is a tiny island, connected to Colonsay by a beach which is only accessible at low tide.
4-5 hour circular walk takes you over the crossing to see the priory and an RSPB sanctuary.
Compared to the other tidal islands I’ve visited (
Burgh Island, St Michael’s Mount, Cramond Island) the walk to Oronsay was a long and not particularly enjoyable schlep across wet sand and standing water.
I’d love to say it was worth the walk, but I was so fed up I turned back as soon as I got to the waymarker. Sorry Oronsay! Another day perhaps.
Colonsay is a small island (population 125) in the Southern Hebrides (part of the Inner Hebrides) off the west coast of Scotland. The ferry runs daily from Oban, or from Islay twice a week in summer.
There is a bookshop, a microbrewery, two gin distilleries and
Colonsay house and gardens (closed when we visited). It is also covered with beautiful quiet beaches and has its own species of bee.
We hung about on
Colonsay Golf Course, which has a fantastic setting, like the Bunabhainneadar tennis course on Harris. It operates via an honesty box, and local rules allow “ a free drop for balls disappearing into rabbit-holes or taken by the ravens”.
It was covered in relics of something or other and led down to a deserted bay.
After a trip to Oronsay (of which, more later) the last stop was something to eat at the excellent
Colonsay Pantry before the beautiful journey back to Islay.
I’ve been on the
Isle of Islay for a few days. This Brutalist shelter was the first thing I saw after getting off the ferry at Port Askaig.
I thought it was a bus stop, but it’s a lone petrol pump. The shape of the island is cut out of one side.
After that, I couldn’t help noticing other tiny garages. This one was in Port Charlotte.
Bowmore Filling Station, in the middle of one of the main town’s streets seemed like a megastore in comparison.
All operated by
Gleaner, a family-owned Scottish fuel supplier.