Page 1 of 1

The West Coast of Jura

PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 9:50 pm
by Billymaca
August 31st 2012

Jura pt 1.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

The plan was to walk the length of Jura down the west coast as it is almost on my doorstep, this coast is almost uninhabited and has no roads, tracks or paths so not many people get the chance to explore it. Looking at the OS Explorer map 355 it was to be full of cliffs, caves, raised beaches, coves and beaches. Inland looked rugged with glens, ridges, bogs and lochs not to mention the Paps of Jura, a group of scree sided peaks that rise almost vertically from the bogs, the highest being Beinn an Oir at 785m, weather permitting the plan was to take it on!

Anyway back to the job in hand, I was to meet Sandy from Venture west at old Crinan harbour at 09:30, this was to be my mode of transport to the start point of the walk , He was going to drop me off at the North tip of Jura after first of all dropping off a team from Historic Scotland on the Island group of the Garvellachs, Check them out, a wee bit of history here:-
If I remember correctly, the early history of Christianity in Scotland may have to be rewritten because of recent finds from this group of small Islands that pre-date St Columbus.

Day 1

The day started wet but with a gentle wind, Sandy was there as arranged and I was soon on the way along with the team from Historic Scotland in his fast boat. The route out was to take us through the Gulf of Corryvreken, this is a thin strip of water that passes between the islands of Scarba and Jura and when the tide is right the water rushes through creating the third largest whirlpool in the world, Sandy will take you there for a trip in his boat if you want (for a small fee of course).


Sandy dropped me off at the most Northerly cove, Bagh Gleann nam Muc otherwise known locally as the Bay of Pigs or is it Pig Bay ?. The drop off was precarious to say the least, a leap from the boat onto a rock face with a rope attached to it, get it wrong and I was in the drink, this was the only place that he could get close enough to a rock which had deep water for his boat. I did get onto the rock dry. After saying goodbye and watching him head out into the Corryvreken I was off. The good thing about walking on an island is that you can’t get lost! If you think you are, then just turn right and keep walking until you get wet feet, then you know you are back at the sea!


The going underfoot was rough, tall grass and bracken, so I tried the foreshore, slippy, I was like Bamby on ice, legs going in all directions as tried to make progress across the rocks, I was on my backside over and over again, but I persevered. As I neared the headland turning into the next cove I was aware of a stench, it wasn’t me!, hugging the base of the cliff as I continued round into the cove wild goats appeared to bolt out of the cliff, the first cave of the walk, large and full of goats sheltering from the weather.
As I went in they ran out. What a stench! and knee deep in dung. Onwards slipping and sliding on the rocks into the next cove, the same again, cliffs, cave and goats running out, phew what a stench!, in one of the caves, of which there were many, once the goats had all ran out I went in for a closer look deep into its bowels, it went on for quite a depth, getting darker and darker the deeper I went,


SUDDENLY there was a rumble and a terrible racket from the darkness of the cave which got louder and nearer, heart pounding, imagination running amok, I was off and running!, on reaching the entrance and daylight I glanced back to have a look as I ran, two goats hot on my heels, they must have been asleep at the back of the cave when the others left, B******s!
I soon reached Glengarrisdale Bay with its secluded beach and a very picturesque Bothy which was to be home for the night.


The fire was on, clothes were drying by the open fire and I was having dinner in a very cosy room watching a solitary Stag grazing on the hill top opposite with the rain battering off the window. It was a very tranquil evening of solitude.


Day 2

The same as yesterday, rain and strong winds. Today I wasn’t going to go through the same degrading rig-ma-roll of the rocks on the fore shore, I’ll walk inland! I decided to climb to the top of the ridges as the walking up there was easier than down at the bottom of the glens where it was tall grass, bracken and bogs.


This was a much better day with great views of Colonsay in the distance and all the glens bellow me full of wild goats and red deer. Map reading was also made so much easier up here as well because of the vantage point looking down onto everything. As the day progressed the wind got stronger and I became tired because of all the ups and downs trying to stay on the ridges. Not a sign of life, no tracks, paths, buildings or anything, total solitude, fantastic! Using the hill lochs as reference points to make my way West, each with their own indigenous brown trout leaping at the surface life, Oh how I wished I had taken a fly rod with me!.


Nearing the end of the day whilst still high on top of Duib Bheinn, looking down at Shian Bay, which was the chosen spot for tonight’s wild camp, I was confused, what I was looking at in the distance didn’t marry up with the map?, there were too many hill lochs behind the beach, it didn’t make sense! All the rest of the features married up with the map! I decided that it must be right so I went down closer for a better look. The plan from here was to make my way to a small lochan at 572888 where on the map it shows a track leading down to the bay, I couldn’t find the track on the ground, presumably lost in time. Under foot all the way to the Bay was tall tussocks of grass and the ground falling away gradually towards the sea away in the distance, no more ups and downs today.


Three of the hill lochs that didn’t marry up with the map were in actual fact not lochs but raised beaches with grey cobbles, from a distance they looked just like water with the wind rippling the surface. It’s a strange sensation standing on a beach 100ft up and a couple of hundred yards inland with grass and bracken all around instead of water in front. Pitching the tent was simple on the well grazed park overlooking the beach with Colonsay in the background, a Beautiful spot for a wild camp even in the rain. An end to a fantastic but exhausting day.



Day 3

Day 3 started at 06:30, dry but overcast with a strong South Westerly wind. Following breakfast and packing up it was time to start the days walk which was planned to be as far as Craighouse via Cruib Bothy for lunch. Looking at the map it shows a network of tracks in this area but after not finding yesterday’s track I wasn’t holding out much hope for today. After crossing the flat bog leading to the small hill of Tom Uaine Beag (530865) I came onto a faded track which is on the map, how far will it take me?, boggy in places and almost invisible over long distances progress was made by checking the map periodically when the track vanished. I had decided to cut inland on the track as there were plenty of hill lochs as reference points to help me navigate all the way to Cruib Bothy when the faint track disappeared, Constantly up and down, track no track, rock and bog all the way.


Cruib Bothy is situated on the foreshore of Loch Tarbert (566828) and is new to the MBA this year. A beautiful location with a feeling of isolation, you can see that the MBA have put a lot of work into it, new doors, windows, table and benches, welcomed shelter if you get caught out in bad weather as there isn’t anywhere else in the area, “well done MBA!” Whilst sitting relaxing at the bothy I reflected on the trip so far, what was obvious was that I had underestimated the severity of the ground underfoot, progress was very slow and extremely hard work, It’s easy to sit at home on a laptop checking out the route on an OS map and google earth satellite view, until you get your feet on the ground you just don’t know.


My break over, the route from here was cross country to the head of Loch Tarbert, I knew it was going to be hard work because I would be walking against the direction of the ridges, up and over each of the ridges until I reached the end of the loch, from here I had a couple of small inclines left before reaching the vast bog that leads to the A846 that runs the length of the East side of Jura. Now it was simple underfoot and for once I was actually glad to see the black stuff, Easy going all the way to Craighouse and a good rest before getting the Jura water taxi back to Tayvallich.


Only half the West coast of Jura completed (valuable lessons learnt for when I come back to finish off the job) and I didn’t see the paps the whole time I was there except when I was sitting at Craighouse waiting for the taxi!, the skies cleared and they appeared from the clouds as if to taunt me before I left.

If you want a tough challenge then try west Jura, you won’t be disappointed.

Half the job done ZZZZzzzz !

Re: The West Coast of Jura

PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:19 pm
by mrssanta
that's an epic walk I have always wanted to go there but would recommend the spring when the bracken is low. And I think I'll be allowing a week. I'd like to walk all the way down to feolin. but I've got a few (a lot) more munros to bag first!

Re: The West Coast of Jura

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 12:37 pm
by Gavin99
That looks a fine walk over pretty rough terrain . I've seen similar raised beaches in Islay , as you say it's strange sitting on a cobble beach so far above sea level , amazing features . Hope you enjoy part two !

Re: The West Coast of Jura

PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2012 1:01 pm
by mountainstar
Hi Billy,
I've been to Jura a few times. Stopped over in Glengarrisdale Bothy once on a lovely day and night...
Now I have got to go back again to stop in Cruib Bothy. It looks a pathless route to it on the map, did you find any paths at all?

Re: The West Coast of Jura

PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:38 am
by Billymaca
hello Mountainstar, There is a quad track which isn't on the map, It starts where you leave the road at NR606828 and is marked out with white painted rocks, but sadly it only goes as far as the river which flows into Loch Tarbert at NR599842. As for the rest of the way to Cruib Bothy I didn't see any, The track that is on the map and loops round to the Bothy has faded out with time!

Re: The West Coast of Jura

PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 9:18 am
by mountainstar
Thanks Billy :)

Re: The West Coast of Jura

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 6:36 pm
by Ileach
Well done, Billyboy. Did I not tell you that the only thing smooth on Jura is the whisky. Let me
know when you want a guide over the Paps!

Re: The West Coast of Jura

PostPosted: Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:16 pm
by Billymaca
Hello Ileach , How are you keeping, How many tops did you get done this year?, you can't have many left now! Now then I intend to go back and finish the job off at some pint next year and yes, I will give you a call when that time comes. That is rough walking down the West side but worth it. Neil would agree with you on the Malt.

Re: The West Coast of Jura

PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:46 pm
by Klaasloopt
Thanks Billy, enjoyed the read. Good plan!

Re: The West Coast of Jura

PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:20 am
by JimboJim
Tired just reading report! Well done. Couple of questions - Anyone know if passenger ferry going to be running this year? Is it possible to get that ferry over, do the Paps nd get bck the same day?

Re: The West Coast of Jura

PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:44 am
by mountainstar
Here is a link for the ferry...
There is a timetable on the site.
There is a ferry from Islay as well.

Re: The West Coast of Jura

PostPosted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 9:05 pm
by JimboJim
mountainstar wrote:Here is a link for the ferry...
There is a timetable on the site.
There is a ferry from Islay as well.

Cheers. Good to know it's still gonna be running this year - won two tickets in a charity auction last year, but never found the time to get over. Praying they'll accept them this year!