Jura, though fairly large in size, is a sparsely populated island with a population of approximately 200 people.
Jura has a large population of red deer (it is commonly believed that the name ‘Jura’ was derived from hjörtr, the Old Norse word for deer). The island is designated as a National Scenic Area and is dominated by three conical mountains known as the Paps of Jura which rise to over 2,500 feet (762 m). The west coast of Jura is uninhabited but is home to a number of raised beaches.
A single-track A-class road stretches from Feolin Ferry in the south west of the island and follows the coastline to Craighouse, the island’s main settlement. This is where you will find the island’s only shop, hotel and pub. This is also where you will find the only two places to eat out on the island – the Jura Hotel and the Antlers Bistro. The village of Craighouse is also home to the island’s only distillery and only functioning church.
The same road continues past Craighouse and northwards through the smaller settlements of Lagg, Tarbet and Ardlussa and provides some stunning views of the Paps and Jura’s rugged coastline.
In Ardlussa, the road splits. The right fork takes you to the hamlet of Inverlussa, where it is possible to wild camp. The left fork takes you past a sign which says ‘End of Public Road 3 miles’. A private vehicle track runs from the road end to the far north of the island. This track passes Barnhill, where George Orwell lived towards the end of his life and where he wrote his pessimistic novel about the future, Nineteen Eighty-Four, from 1947 to 1948 despite being seriously ill. This track provides the best access to a footpath leading to view of the Corryvrekkan whirlpool which lies between the northern tip of Jura and the Island of Scarba.
The seasonal Jura Passenger Ferry runs from Tayvallich on the mainland (around 2½ hours drive from Glasgow) to Craighouse on Jura, taking around 45 min to an hour to complete the crossing and linking up with buses to Lochgilphead. The ferry runs from Easter to the end of September with two crossings a day 6 days a week, including weekends. Booking in advance is required (+44 7768 450000). One-way tickets cost £20 (bicycles can be taken for free but should be mentioned when calling).
In addition, a few of licensed boat owners provide a private water taxi service from the Tayvallich and Crinan area who will drop you at various points on the island.
Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) runs a number of vehicle ferries each day between Kennacraig (on the Kintyre peninsula, around 2.5 – 3 hours drive from Glasgow) to Port Askaig or Port Ellen on Islay. Vehicle bookings should be made in advance as these sailings are often fully booked. The crossing takes 2 hours to Port Askaig and 2 hours and 10 minutes to Port Ellen.
Flybe operates two return flights per day (one on Sundays) between Glasgow International Airport and Islay – public transport runs from the airport to Port Askaig.
A small car ferry, operated by ASP Ship Management (+44 1496 840681), runs across the Sound of Islay between Port Askaig on Islay and Feolin Ferry on Jura. Passenger return tickets cost £14.50 and cars cost £9.05. From Feolin Ferry it is 8 miles to the island’s main settlement, Craighouse.