Isles 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.
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.
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.
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.
Saturday: Glasgow – Isle of Arran
We will drive form 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.
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 and little ascent
Monday: Glenashdale Falls, Giants' Graves & Holy Isle
Today we explore the east of Arran, starting with a walk to 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, our next stop.
We cross Lamlash Bay by boat to Holy Isle, which 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.
6 miles/9.5 km and 800ft/245m of ascent
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 and 325ft/100m of ascent
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 and 650ft/200m of ascent
Friday: Kildalton, whisky distillery and Mull of Oa
The ruins of Kildalton Chapel, built in the 13th century, is our first stop of the day. Next to the chapel stands a 12 foot (4 m) high Celtic cross dating from the first millennium AD.
Afterwards we will visit the Laphroaig whisky distillery on the south coast of Islay. This is the only distillery on Islay that is still malting on site.
In the afternoon, 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.
4 miles/6.5km and 330ft/100m of ascent
Evening: whisky tasting.
Saturday: Islay - Kennacraig - Inveraray - Loch Lomond - Glasgow
Depart am for Kennacraig and via Inveraray, the Arrochar Alps and Loch Lomond to Glasgow.
Click on the picture to enlarge.
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.
You will need to bring boots with a good tread that provide adequate ankle support, warm clothing, waterproofs (top and over-trousers) and a rucksack big enough for your spare clothes, a packed lunch and whatever else you normally like to have with you (binoculars, a camera, etc.).
Boots are especially important. They don't have to be particularly heavy, but wearing ultra lightweight ones may mean your feet get wet and trainers definitely aren't adequate nor, on some of the rougher and steeper going, however short it may be, are they safe. Trekking poles can be very useful, especially for anyone with knee problems.
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.
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.
Isle of Islay: Bridgend Hotel
Opened a century and a half ago, the Bridgend Hotel aims to provide the original Islay experience to their customers, offering a warm, friendly and professional service.
Each of the eleven ensuite bedrooms is individually decorated to a high standard to ensure your comfort and relaxation. At Bridgend Hotel, they are passionate about promoting the local produce from the Isle of Islay.
|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.|
|AI61||18-25 June 2016||£1595||
Luxury country house hotel accommodation, all meals included.
|AI62||20-27 August 2016|
|Groups of 4 or more can book other dates, please ask.|
The price includes:
and most especially
For general information and booking, please click here.