Saturday, 3 August 2013

Walking on Jura: West Coast

I thought I'd do a post on one of the walks I did during my recent trip to Jura.  There is a bit of dearth of info on the web on walks on Jura so aiming to make this a bit of a reference point for others - hoping it will be useful!

The best written guide I found is this one;

And of course you'll want the right OS map.  All set with this and assuming that you're based in Craighouse (the main settlement) you've got a great couple of days ahead of you.  

Head on up out of the village on the main road - going North.  You can either walk (it's about a 5km initial trudge), use the intermittent (albeit very reliable) bus service (NB, the bus service has been re-tendered - it's now run by Garelochhead Coaches not Alex Dunnachie as per the Argyll and Bute website - the link I give here is the right one!) or try to hitch a lift.  I just walked.  

You'll reach 'Three Arch Bridge', the road bend up to the left for about 1/2 a mile.  You then see a signpost to the left of the road indicating 'Evans Walk'

This is where it gets a bit funky.  

The path is very clearly marked on the map.  On the ground it's not quite so clear...

As long as you keep going broadly NW you'll be ok but be warned, the ground can be very boggy - I went in up to my knees at one point.  Use the rivers that you cross (perfectly fine to drink by the way) and the old crofters' fence (marked on the map and a rusty red colour on the ground) to guide out your way.  You pass to the right of the two mountains in the photo above (the one on the left is one of the Paps: Beinn Shiantaidh) and then pick up a river: Abhainn Loch na Fudarlaich, at which point it gets much easier.  The path is pretty clear at this stage and you can navigate by a number of waterfalls and movements of the river.  As long as you keep the river to your right you can't really go wrong.  You'll undoubtedly come off the path at some point, especially near the end, but other than meaning that you have to fight your way through a load of shoulder high ferns there's no real problem.  

Eventually you start to be able to see the sea the other side which is the photo at the top of this post.  Keep pressing on and you'll start to come down into the bay of Glenbatrick.  

This is where the reward comes.  

The (holiday) house here is owned by the Astor family and a more perfect hideaway I can't imagine.  Local legend has it that Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies were spirited away and hidden here at the peak of the Profumo Affair.  

As you can see, I wild camped here - I recommend this even though it means humping all your stuff along.  It's a good three and a half hours one way from the Evans Walk sign (ignore the informational panel by it that suggests a three hour round trip) so you'd be looking a long old yomp to do it there and back in one day - especially if you walk from Craighouse like I did.  Settle down, have a bite to eat, pitch your tent and revel in the freedom and beauty of the surroundings.  Listen to the sound of the sea on the beach and the wind over the mountains.  Bliss. 

Top Tips; Leave early so you're not rushing.  Wear sunscreen (the sun is on the back of your neck all day).  Drink in the scenery and the isolation - not many places left in the UK are this wild.  Bring a nip of Jura Whisky to toast your success on arrival.  

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