Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jura, 2 nights

View Jura for 2 nights in a larger map

So we thought we'd try to go to Islay again. Off we go - first big climb to get over to Portavadie, looks like this from the top:

 Ferry ride, more bike, another ferry, and we were back on Islay. We decided we'd take it easier this time, not try to beat the wind, but instead just go to the distillery closest to the ferry, eat some food, and wild camp somewhere near. Turns out there was no food. But Caol Ila (Cull Eela) is a very nice whiskey. They have this great view, too...

See how we are at water level? Well, that took some effort. The ferry is at water level, too. But the road goes up up up, around, and then down down down down to Caol Ila. Disappointed about the lack of a cafe, and knowing the wind would be with us, we decided to go to Jura instead. The Paps beckoned.

Joshua contemplates rowing across

And it was immediately stunning. Off the small ferry, the road turns right. There is just the one road on Jura. It follows the coast south and the turns inland a bit. We climbed a soft grade for a while. Meanwhile on either side, somewhat barren. Although it turns out there's water just everywhere. Hidden streams pour into the culverts on either side of the road.

Not sure what the camera was focused on here...

The weather was working out well. Wind in our favor and kinda sunny. The road rolls up and down all the way to Craighouse, about 8 miles. Most of way there are no trees, it is totally quiet except for the wind. One of my favorite rides ever. 

And in Craighouse, there is the one Jura Distillery, and the hotel. There's a cafe, meeting hall/community space, tiny Spar (maybe even smaller than the one in Tighnabruaich), and homes. The campsite is run by the hotel, and they ask a donation to help maintain the field. Bathrooms and showers in the back. Cue the choir.

(l-r) hotel, distillery (foreground) campsite

Our neighbors we'd met on the ferry, a small family carrying a 2.5 yr old on the front child seat and one parent carrying all the gear in a trailer. Camping for about a week. They were there for the Jura Fell Race, which sounds like something out of World of Warcraft. It's a 12 mile run that goes up and down five very steep mountains, including the three Paps. Apparently the winners do it in a little over 3 hours. Anyone participating is a winner in my book.

Our tent. Bikes to keep people (us) from tripping over the fly lines.

Again, choirs. Lots of good light, not that the camera can handle it.

The next morning we decided to go to the distillery. Taste, we did. Buy, we did. Oh, and we bought a couple bottles at Caol Ila, too. Brought them all back to Tighnabruaich. Clearly, we are seasoned bicycle tourists. 

My favorite flavor is called Superstition. Also amazing is the Diurach's Own 16yr. Whoa. 

We spent the rest of the day walking through town, having lunch at the cafe, and then the afternoon in the hotel bar dining area. Good view, nice scotch, reading books. Wow - two nights in one place!? It rained and the wind blew and we hoped for better weather in the morning.

We got it. It rained all night. But towards morning it started to lighten, and just as we were ready to leave the tent, waterproofs on, everything put away, it stopped raining altogether. We rode back along the beautiful road, saw many, many Jura deer and even heard, then saw, an Eagle. Rare. Also, the copse of trees we'd been stunned by on the way in was as stunning on the way out.

We got a pretty good wind from the north, hitting us on our right sides as we climbed the last of the uphills. Then we turned north and battled through the last two miles towards the ferry. But we made it. And made it back to Tighnabruaich; this has been home for two months. We leave very, very soon.

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