The Isle of Jura


In the last quarter of 2013 I went in for a little competition run by Jura Whisky. The competition was for very short stories (a maximum of just 1000 characters) based on a subject titles given by the distiller. Quite surprisingly a little story I did for their 'Into the Wild' subject - called 'Rocks' - got onto their short (or long?) list of 30. Now each of the 30 story writers are in with a chance to win a prize of a visit to the isle of Jura and to the distillery.

Obviously I was quite made up to get on the short/long list, but I would be even more made up if I could
win the competition and get to visit the island.

Click to go through to the site and vote (for me and the story 'Rocks'!)

The story is based on when I was undertaking geological mapping for my degree, on the adjacent island of Islay (where there is the highest concentration of whisky distilleries in the world). Whilst I was there unfortunately I never had the opportunity to get over to Jura, now maybe I will (okay a c.1:30 chance). The story with the most votes will get to Jura. So that's where you come in! If you have the time, and the inclination, please drop by and vote for my story ('Rocks') and who knows in a month or two I could be writing a blog or a story just down the coast from where George Orwell wrote 1984, I could be having a dram of whisky with one or two of the locals (it's almost the size of the Isle of Wight (population 132,000) but only has a population of 201 !), I could be photographing Golden Eagles, or getting sucked into the Corryvreckan Whirlpool.

Jura map
Where is Jura!? source

For those of you not ware of the island, below are a few
Jura factoids you may find interesting about the island:

  • Jura is the 13th largest island of the British Isles (between the Isle of Wight and South Uist);
  • It is in the Inner Hebrides between the Kintrye peninsula and Islay;
  • It has a population of just 201 (people), but has over 5000 deer;
  • Other wildlife includes sea otters, seals, golden eagles, and numerous birds species;
  • The three main hills are know as the Paps of Jura and are a draw for walkers;

the Paps of Jura (photo source)

  • There is only one hotel (which is also the one bar), and also only one shop and church on Jura - all in Craighouse;
  • There is no ferry link direct to the mainland (you have to get a local ferry from Port Askaig on Islay);
  • George Orwell (or Eric Blair to the locals) who described the island as 'extremely ungetatable,' spent much of the last three year of his life on Jura.
  • Orwell finished off his wonderful 1984 on the island at a remote house 'Barnhill' whilst suffering from TB.
  • Between Jura and the small island of Scarba to the north is the Corryvreckan whirlpool.
  • Oh, and there's a certain distillery on the island (just the one of course!). Jura Whisky Distillery.
  • The distillery was taken over by White & Mackay in 2007, which was subsequently taken over by an Indian drinks company (the United Breweries Group of India)

Jura Links:

Jura Whisky Distillery
Jura hotel
Jura Wikipedia

Not the Great Glen Way

We ended up not doing the Great Glen Way due to illness and foot injury - but it is still there for next year.

Plenty of time to get fitness up and get walking more locally and in the Lakes and north Wales.

Great Glen Way

Planning to do the Great Glen Way in a few weeks. Should be great and will be a big achievement for our inexperienced legs. I've never undertaken a multi day long distance walk and this 73 miles challenge will be just that, a challenge. I have walked 15 miles or so in a day but not usually carrying a weeks worth of gear and camping equipment…

Daily walking schedule:

Fort William to Gairlochy - 10 miles
Gairlochy to South Laggan - 13 miles
South Laggan to Fort Augustus - 10 miles
Fort Augustus to Invermoriston - 8 miles
Invermoriston to Drumnadrichit - 14 miles
Drumnadrichit to Inverness - 18 miles

The last day of 18 miles looks the hardest bit, especially after the previous 55 miles. Two nights in Inverness to recover the feet me thinks!

Not exactly traveling: Moel Famau

Nothing overseas so far booked for later this year. Off to Glasgow, almost overseas, next week to see Neil Young.

Today went over to Wales today and took a little walk up every Scouser's favourite hill,
Moel Famau. Gorgeous warm blue sky day and saw some nice wildlife, including my first Swallow of the summer, and a red grouse.

DSC_0164 DSC_0132
Red Grouse in the heather of Moel Famau and the start of the walk in the trees.

Hamburg again, Germany again

Haven't been away for ages. Just looking for bargain hotels now in Hamburg for my second Stag Do there. Expecting this one to be a lot more sedate than the last one, but you never know (it's the quiet ones you have to look out for isn't it?).

Thinking I may get a Hamburg game in too. Who knows I may get a gig in as well.

Hamburg - Berlin - Stuggart - Munich - Hamburg (not to mention Rot-Weisse Essen) seen a lot of Germany these last few years.