Easter Break 2019: The Long and Winding road of Jura

Amazingly we were on our third day on the island and it was still sunny. I am now getting used to the ‘Islay Flick’ when I am driving. Whenever you pass another car you give an acknowledging flick of your finger, of course not everyone does it but I suspect they are tourists that haven’t discovered the flick yet.

Now I was expecting the ferry to Jura to be small but this really was small. It can only carry about 5 cars. (On the way back we found out it can actually carry 7). A return trip was £23.50 which was a bargain as there is no other way to get across.

The Jura Ferry

I am taken aback at how the main road, which is the only road, is single track all the way. Although fun to drive on it does get tiring after a while as you are constantly watching for potholes, large stones and animals on the road. As well as other vehicles coming the other way and then working out where the nearest passing point is.

The Long and Winding Road of Jura

After about 20mins of driving and barely seeing another car, we arrive at the largest place on Jura, Craighouse. There is not too much to do here but we had a look in the Isle of Jura Distillery and I purchased some more whiskey! Chatting to the guy in the shop I discovered all the whiskey produced has to be transported by HGV down the long single lane winding road we had just come down! Also discovered, randomly, that you can get to Glasgow from here in 4 hours via a RIB.

We wanted to take Ruby for a walk and there was a lovely spot nearby called Corran Sands. It is pretty normal now to be the only ones on a beach and Ruby loves running like a maniac, although as soon as she sees a bird she really does become a maniac and goes full sprint after it. All obedience training goes out of the window and It feels like we are having an infamous ‘Fenton’ moment from Richmond Park.

Corran Sands beach just outside Craighouse

It was starting to drizzle and as it was lunch time we needed to find a nice picnic spot. On the rather sparse road map there was a place called Lowlandmans Bay. From the map it looked like a picturesque place to eat. Off the main road was a minor road, if roads can get any minor on Jura, that leads you around the bay. We discovered there was a gate across the road and had to stop at the top of the hill, but that was fine as it meant we could eat lunch and look down upon the bay.

One of the main reasons for coming to Jura was to visit the Lussa Gin Distillery, but as we were a little early we popped down to Inverlussa to walk #RubyBloomT again but also to see what the ‘Tea by the Beach’ was. It turned out to be a horse trailer with coffee/tea and cakes available inside, which are purchased on an honesty system. Sadly as we had just walked Ruby we were now going to be late for Lussa Gin so no time for cake.

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Lussa Gin was smaller than what I thought and we actually drove past it to begin with. Based in one outbuilding Lussa Gin is owned and run by Claire, Georgina and Alicia who all Co-founded Lussa Gin. Alicia met us as we arrived and then explained how they manufacture their Gin. The passion and dedication were clearly evident as we were shown the botanicals and how it can take 3 years to grow and cultivate a particular one. It was interesting to hear that the native deer can be quite a hindrance as they have a taste for junipers, which is why Lussa have to plant their junipers in multiple places.

The bottles are really elegant and Alicia says how proud they are of them. This does come with a caveat as they wished they had known how long it takes to put labels on bottles by hand before designing them. Given they have produced in excess of 14,000 bottles in three years that is a lot of labels to put on by hand!!! Thankfully they know have a bottling machine so at least they no longer have to fill up all the bottles by hand. The whiskey distillery that I went to the other day, Kilchoman, actually donated their old bottling machine to Lussa Gin.

We love independent projects who take on a challenge, source locally and stay true to themselves; whilst also producing a delicate and tasty Gin.

It was time for us to leave as we needed to get back to the ferry and on this road that was going to take an hour at least. Just enough time for us buy a bottle of gin and say goodbye to Alicia, Claire and Mr Scruffy.

Lussa Gin and Jura Whiskey

A word of warning about the ferry is that you could be taking a risk if you aim for the last ferry. When we turned up there were already 5 cars in the queue and by the time the ferry came this was up to 10 cars and only 7 can fit on.

Such a great day on Jura, a great place to come and trek and get away from a busy world. Sadly we say goodbye to Islay tomorrow in Part 5.

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