Arran, Islay & Jura

Guided Island Hopping

Code: XALDW

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Activity types:

  • Coastal
  • High Mountains
  • Hills & moorland
  • Wildlife

Level

  • Hard
More information

Difficulty indicator

Difficulty is measured on many factors such as distance, ascent/descent, terrain, weather and more. There's no magic formula, but from our experience we use yellow for easy, orange for medium and red for hard. Challenger holidays require a high level of fitness and stamina.

More about difficulty levels

From £1,529.00 - 9 nights

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Prices are per person

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Holiday overview

The Inner Hebridean isles of Arran, Islay and Jura provide a wonderful contrast with each other. Arran’s pink granite peaks and lush woodland are a perfect foil for the wilderness of Jura’s west coast, while Islay’s rugged cliffs and extensive sandy beaches are different again. Famous for their distilleries, these islands provide a wonderful range of contrasting walks and amazing wildlife. Several walks are accessed by chartered boat, adding an extra dimension to the holiday.

 

 

Accommodation

Our accommodation is at comfortable partner hotels and guesthouses, on or near the route. Each has been selected for their character, quality and their warm welcome and friendly service.

 

Auchrannie Hotel, Arran - 3nts

Located in the village of Brodick on the Isle of Arran, the Auchrannie Hotel offers the free use of the leisure facilities, including indoor pools, sauna, steam room and solarium. All rooms have a fridge, tea and coffee making facilities, complementary mineral water, TV, hairdryer, use of an iron and ironing board. Wifi is available. 

 

Port Askaig Hotel, Islay - 3nts

Port Askaig Hotel is a picturesque, family run Highland Inn on the shores of the Sound of Islay, overlooking the pier at which daily car ferries berth on arrival from the Scottish mainland. Bedrooms have tea and coffee making facilities. Hairdryer and iron available on request. TV is in the bar and residents lounge (not in bedrooms) and WiFi is in the reception area and limited elsewhere; as is mobile phone reception.  

 

Jura Hotel - 3nts

In a sheltered setting in the village of Craighouse, The Jura Hotel has breathtaking views across the water and is metres from the world-famous Jura Distillery. This family-run hotel reflects the island with its relaxed and friendly atmosphere. There are two lounges for guests' use; one with TV (there are no TVs in the bedrooms), free WiFi, tea and coffee making facilities, hairdryer and iron and ironing board are available. 

On occasion we may need to change the accommodation listed above. If this happens, your replacement accommodation will be of the equivalent standard or higher. In the rare instance this is not possible, we will contact you in advance.

Itinerary

Please note some of the walks on this holiday are quite remote and the underfoot conditions can be rough in places. Weather, tide and local sea/mountain conditions may cause changes to the published programme.

Planned Itinerary

All local walks transport is included in the holiday price, and may include boat charters, local buses and private coach hire. Your Island hopping leader will accompany you on each leg of the journey. Many of the most isolated, most stunning areas of these islands are only accessible by boat and on Islay and Jura we will be chartering a fully enclosed inshore passenger ferry (Rigid Inflatable Boat) run by www.islayseasafari.co.uk to take us to and from the start of some of the walking routes. If you have back or neck problems, or are pregnant, please consult your doctor before travelling in case you are advised that you should not be a passenger on this type of boat.    

Day 1: Arrival day

We travel by train from Glasgow to Ardrossan and then by ferry to Brodick.  The hotel minibus will transfer you to the nearby Auchrannie Hotel.

Day 2: Goatfell

We take taxis as far as Corrieburn Bridge, just south of Corrie village, and walk west following Corrie Burn up into the high corrie above which rises the Goatfell range. We continue ascending to North Goatfell. A lovely ridge walk follows round the Pinnacles to the top of Goatfell (2866 feet). On a clear day, our efforts are rewarded by magnificent views of the Arran Mountains, and the Scottish mainland hills. We take the main track down to Cladach and walk along the beach back to our hotel. 6½ miles (10km) and 2,800 feet (840m) of ascent.

Day 3: Holy Island and hills surrounding Lamlash

Our walks today provide quite a contrast. We visit Holy Island, a Buddhist retreat, with its fantastic views back to the main island. We’ll walk to the summit of Mullach Mor at just over 300 metres and return along the coast. If time allows, the second walk of the day takes in the Giant’s Graves (which are actually Neolithic burial cairns - fragments of pottery and arrowheads have been found here) and the fabulous Glenashdale waterfalls, now best seen from the purpose-built, dramatic viewing platform. The descent passes an Iron Age Fort, so there’s plenty of historical interest to go alongside the views and the delightful woodlands. The order of the walks will depend on ferry and tide times. Holy Island distance: 3¾ miles (6km) with 1,050 feet (320m) of ascent. Giant’s Graves distance: 3¼ miles (5.5km) with 850 feet (255m) of ascent

Day 4: To Islay

Today we travel across to Islay, but not before enjoying a final morning walk from Brodick up the Glen Rosa Valley surrounded by impressive mountains and a chance of seeing a golden eagle before ending at the Saw Mill with the option for refreshments and to visit the local brewery. 5 miles (8km) with 620 feet (190m) of ascent. We meet the minibus which drops us to our ferry and we cross to Claonaig on the Kintyre Peninsula. A short road journey leads to the opposite coast and the ferry terminal at Kennacraig, from where we leave for Port Askaig on Islay. Once here, you can settle into your hotel and enjoy a look around the tiny harbour.

Day 5: The Mull of Oa, Islay

Today’s walk takes in some of the spectacular coastline of the RSPB Mull of Oa Nature Reserve on the southern end of the island. What you can see here (in addition to the fantastic scenery) depends on the time of year. The bird life is worthy of special mention, with a huge variety of nesting seabirds often visible along with possible sightings of choughs and maybe a golden eagle. There are wild goat herds on the cliffs. 7 miles (11.5km) with 1,750 feet (535m) of ascent.

Day 6: Rhuvaal, Islay

Weather and sea conditions permitting, we’ll be using a charter boat to take us out to the slipway at Rhuvaal Lighthouse from where we’ll walk on deer tracks and descend to the beach of Bagh an Da Dhoruis before walking above and below coastal cliffs to the sands of Gruinart Bay. Not many people have the opportunity to walk this wonderful section of coastline without it becoming a much bigger undertaking – the use of the charter boat makes it possible. 13 miles (21km) with 1,640 feet (500m) of ascent.

Day 7: To Jura

Weather and sea conditions permitting, a charter boat will take the group out to the west coast of Jura and drop us near Glenbatrick. Your luggage will then be taken by boat to the Jura Hotel. We can explore the coast hereabouts before walking back to the east coast via a track that leads beneath the famous Paps of Jura. This is a great area for seeing hen harriers and red deer, and you might see adders along with a range of coastal wildlife. 6¾ miles (11km) with 1,000 feet (310m) of ascent.

Day 8: Free day on Jura

This is built in as a free day to allow for a change in the schedule should it be required. You may wish to go on a local walk organised or relax around the harbour area and visit the distillery.

Day 9: Corryvreckan, Jura

The final day’s walking and another one on which we hope to use the chartered boat – this time to bring us back at the end of the walk, though tide, weather etc could make it a drop-off rather than a pick-up. The northern tip of Jura overlooks the Gulf of Corryvreckan – famous for its whirlpools. Our route follows “the Long Road”, passing Barnhill, where George Orwell wrote 1984, out to the Gulf and explores some of this amazing, remote coastline before our charter boat takes us back to Craighouse Bay near the hotel, passing the Corryvreckan whirlpools if conditions and tide permit. 8½ miles (14km) with 1,200 feet (373m) of ascent.

Day 10: Departure day

We take the charter boat across the Sound of Jura into Loch Sween, and Tayvallich, with its tiny, sheltered bay. From here we travel by coach back to Glasgow Central Station.

The itinerary may be subject to change at the discretion of the leader. Local mountain or sea conditions may cause changes to the published programme.

Local area

There’s so much to see on these islands! Here are just a few of the sights:

Arran

Brodick Castle and Gardens
This National Trust for Scotland property is a must for garden lovers and there are great views up on to the hills and down across the bay.

Dr McCredy’s Bath
Carved into the sandstone on the seashore at Corrie, this was used to treat Dr McCredy’s patients with seaweed baths in the 1830’s. It’s a decent sized bath as well – 12 feet long , 5 feet wide and 5 feet deep!

Lochranza Castle
On the northern end of the island, the castle served as a hunting lodge for Scottish Kings. A 16th century re-build of the original 12th century structure, it is now looked after by Historic Scotland.

Islay

Distilleries
There are several, including Bruichladdich, Bowmore, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. If you like whisky – this is your place!

The American Monument
A stone-built tower on the end of the Mull of Oa, built in 1920 by the American National Red Cross, commemorating the loss of over 600 people in two separate disasters at sea. Towards the end of World War 1 HMS Tuscania was torpedoed by a German submarine and sank seven miles of the Mull of Oa. On 6 Oct 1918 the HMS Otranto was involved in a collision with the HMS Kashmir and sank in Machir Bay on the west coast of Islay.

Jura

Corryvreckan
The Gulf of Corryvreckan is home to the famous whirlpool of Corryvreckan, which can be seen and heard from the island if the tides and sea conditions are right.

Barnhill
George Orwell lived here on the northern tip of Jura when he wrote 1984 – in 1948 (he arrived at the title of the book by changing the last two numbers around) Orwell almost came to grief when his boat was caught in the aforementioned whirlpool!

The Paps
Jura’s famous mountains, home to a well-known fell race and visible from all around.

Eagles
Jura is one of several designated sites for golden eagle protection, and has around half a dozen breeding pairs.

Travel

This holiday starts and finishes in Glasgow, and transport is provided throughout the holiday, leaving Glasgow by rail and returning at the end of the holiday by coach.

You’ll meet your leader at Glasgow Central Station, near WHSmith, at 14:00 (time based on current train and ferry times). After a short train journey to Ardrossan you’ll then take the 1 hour ferry crossing to Brodick on the Isle of Arran.

From Arran, we use the Cal Mac ferries to sail across from Lochranza to the mainland, where a short drive leads to Kennacraig and the 2 hour CalMac ferry journey to Islay. Jura is then reached by a ten minute ferry journey.

On the departure day, we take the charter boat across to Tayvallich, from where a coach will take you back to Glasgow Central Station; we expect to arrive back at around 13:30. Your walk leader will accompany you on each leg of the journey.

How to get to us by train

By train to Glasgow:

There are trains to Glasgow from around the UK which take around 4½ hours from London or just over 3 hours from Manchester.

For train times and general rail enquiries visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or call 03457 484950 (from outside the UK call +44 20 7278 5240).

Pendolino train at speed 

 Travel by plane

By air to Glasgow:

Many guests opt to fly to Glasgow Airport. See www.easyjet.com, www.ba.com, or www.flybe.com.

From Glasgow International Airport take the regular airport bus to Glasgow Central station which is adjacent to the first hotel (journey time 30 mins) - see www.glasgowairport.com

 easyJet flight

All local walks transport is included in the price, and may include boat charters, local buses and private hire.

Ferry on its way to StornowayWe use three different CalMac ferries on this holiday. Adrossan to Brodick, Lochranza to Claonaig and Kennacraig to Port Askaig.

 

 

 

The small Holy Isle Ferry will bring you across Lamlash Bay to Holy Isle. This short ferry trip takes about 10 minutes.   

High speed ferry from Jura to the mainlandThe Jura Passenger Ferry - is a high-speed RIB. The deep V hull offers maximum stability and comfort with seating for 12 passengers and 2 crew. The canopy guarantees you’ll stay warm and dry with the wrap around screen letting you sit back and enjoy the ever changing views.

In the interests of safety, anyone who suffers from back or neck problems or is pregnant, should consult their doctor before travelling, as you may be advised not to travel on this boat.

Reviews

Date & Rating Customer Review HF Holidays says
11 Jul 2016, 11:54 a.m.

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Efficient organisation throughout including prompt response to queries

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An imaginatively designed trip enhanced by an excellent leader and great travelling companions. Superb walking and a chance to visit some truly off the beaten track areas.
9 Jul 2016, 8:02 a.m.

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All booked according to plan

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Good overall varied trip with good accommodation, company and leader.
7 Jul 2016, 9:45 p.m.

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I have gone on several HF holidays and have found the firm very reliable

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A great holiday
25 Jun 2016, 10:23 a.m.

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A good, well thought out trip.

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An adventurous holiday, sometimes challenging, blessed by good weather and excellent companions. The chartered boat trips worked - sometimes by juggling days. The leader was knowledgeable, competent, considerate and encouraging.
25 Jun 2016, 7:52 a.m.

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HFH really understands their customers and organises excellent holidays. Sooo much better than the (cheaply advertised) Dutch holidaymakers do. With HFH there are no hidden extra's.

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Worth every penny! This holiday did not come cheap but it was clear HFH made every effort to make this holiday into a memorable one. They fully succeeded at that too. This holiday met all (and more) of our expectations. We really enjoyed the boat trips to else inaccessible area's (North side Islay) and the whirlpools North of Jura. Fully recommended.
22 May 2016, 4:38 p.m.

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A good holiday

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A good mix of walking and a chance to get to places by boat that we would not have managed on our own
22 May 2016, 1:52 p.m.

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HF Holidays do very well overall with the extraordinary amount of holidays they offer, but a few details need to be sorted out.

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Quite tough, as expected, but very diverse and good.
25 Sep 2015, 6:57 p.m.

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We use HF quite regularly so are very happy with the holidays they provide and the service received.

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For us this was an excellent holiday providing a taster of the 3 islands as we had not visited this part of Scotland before.
20 Sep 2015, 10:33 a.m.

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The booking and receiving of information badly let the company down. They are a good company for holidays but expanding rather quickly and changing too many things at once. Reservations and receiving information at a reasonable time lets them down.

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This is a holiday that needs further thought. I enjoyed it but that was because the leader was carrying a lot of responsibility for making it work. He was very good but one of the walks fails to happen more times than it goes ahead. If it had gone ahead, he would have had no means of communication if there had been an accident. The leader should be given a satellite phone if this walk is to go ahead for the safety of participants. The information about use of a RIB boat was not clear at time of booking and only came with the joining instructions warning about problems for people with neck and back problems. This should have been highlighted earlier. The rooms in two of the hotels were poor particularly given the price of the holiday. The islands are lovely; the people are great; the use of the boats is very problematic and as such I think it needs to be developed with walks that have a good chance of happening.
Thank you for your feedback. The launch of our new reservations system did cause a few problems and delays and our apologies for this. We believe this has now improved and apologize for any problems last year. With regards to satellite phones these are being considered for leaders for 2016 on our more remote holidays. Thank you.

Toni McNulty
Customer Relations Manager
HF Holidays
16 Sep 2015, 10:04 a.m.

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Good attention to detail and staff always helpful.
I like the range of holidays and the choice of difficulty for walks. The leaders are always knowledgeable and competent.

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Lovely to have the chance to visit three different islands and to have the transport arranged for us! We enjoyed it very much.

Read more reviews from feefo

Dates & Prices

Date Description Nights Brochure price Book
8 May 2017 XALDW - Arran, Islay & Jura 9 £1,529.00 Book Now
12 Jun 2017 XALDW - Arran, Islay & Jura 9 £1,529.00 Book Now
26 Jun 2017 XALDW - Arran, Islay & Jura 9 £1,529.00 Book Now
11 Sep 2017 XALDW - Arran, Islay & Jura 9 £1,529.00 Book Now

Prices include:

  • 9 nights Full Board, en-suite accommodation
  • The services of an experienced HF Holidays' walks leader
  • All transport from, and back to Glasgow (see travel section) and all transport on walks days
  • All chartered boat sailings and ferries and luggage transfers

Prices are per person

Information

  • Single room: £144 (complete holiday)

If at eight weeks prior to the start of the holiday a sharing partner is unavailable, a single room or room for single occupancy with associated supplement will be allocated to you instead. 

  • Non-member associate fee: £10 per person

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