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I have never seen so many builders at work in the centre of Craighouse as we did this week. The reason for all this is that the old Jura Stores building is undergoing a huge renovation. The only things that were left standing were the outside walls. All this is part of the community buyout of the only shop on the island, which took place last year. The Antlers, the café across the road, has been temporarily designated as post office and community store for the time being. Another good addition to the village centre is a new parking place next to the village hall. The planning is that the renovated Community Store will open around Easter. Below are some impressions of the renovation works and the temporary shop.

The new entrance of the Jura Community Store

Work at the back of the building

The temporary Community Store

Builders and new parking place left from Village Hall

Entrance to the new parking place

Camping on the Isle of Jura

isle-of-jura-campsiteThe Isle of Jura doesn’t have an official campsite, at least not in the way you and I expect one to be: A reserved space with numbered pitches, places to park a motorhome, a shower building, a reception etc etc. That, however, does not mean you can’t camp on Jura. First of all you can camp somewhere in the wild, as long as you don’t use someones garden, and there is the nice grassy spot opposite the Jura Hotel. I myself do not holiday in a tent so I have not had the pleasure of using Jura’s campsite and can therefore not share any of my experiences. Fortunately someone else did, David Ross to be precise, and he wrote a nice travel report about his camping trip on Jura. David wrote:

In these recession blighted times, what better holiday accommodation could you wish for than a hotel that lets you camp in its garden for nothing. This admirable establishment is the Jura Hotel in Craighouse. Allowing people to camp in the hotel garden free of charge might appear uncharacteristic behaviour for a famously “thrifty” race such as the Scots (I’m allowed to say this as I’m Scottish), but it actually makes sound commercial sense. All but the most parsimonious campers use the bar for eating and drinking. Considering that the only other place on the island in which to do so is the Antlers Bistro along the road, prices were reasonable.

In the pub, the night before I went home, my suggestion that a bridge might one day be built across the narrow channel between their island and Islay elicited a reaction of mild horror from Diurachs. They obviously relished being un-getatable. It’s just a pity no one told the midges, but then midges don’t need bridges.

Jura Hotel

Jura Hotel

For more info visit the Jura Hotel Website

New Isle of Jura Panoramas

I have been going through my large collection of Jura pictures and found a few more sets to create some more beautiful panorama images. There were already fifteen large size Jura Panoramas and two new ones have been added today. They turned out to be quite amazing if you don’t mind me saying so.

The first panorama shows Craighouse from the Pier on a beautiful sunny day while the second one was taken on the access road to Camas an Staca in the south of Jura where you have quite amazing views over the Sound of Islay. Combine the two with clear and sunny weather and you end up with another great panorama view. I hope you enjoy watching the both of them.

Panorama From Craighouse Pier
Panorama From Craighouse Pier
South Jura Panorama Camas an Staca and Sound of Islay
South Jura Panorama Camas an Staca and Sound of Islay


Jura Lives Project

jura-livesJura Lives interviewed people over a two-year period about their living memories of the island of Jura in Argyll and Bute. It resulted in over 180 hours of audio recordings. By hosting some of the highlights from this collection, Scran is enabling access to a great resource for finding out about how life has changed on the island since World War One for residents and visitors alike.

There is also a CD of recordings from the Jura Lives Project which is available from the Service Point in Craighouse (01496 820161) priced £10. The stories on the CD have been selected because of the locations that they feature, in an attempt to cover as much of the island as possible. Jura Lives worked out that this disc represents 0.006% of the whole Jura Lives collection of recordings; they could make 180 different CDs of this length before anything was repeated! The whole sound archive can be accessed at the Service Point, Craighouse, from Monday to Friday 10:30 – 14:30.

The full archive of oral histories was launched in October 2013. Jura Lives is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Argyll and the Islands LEADER Programme 2007-13 and the Jura Development Trust.

To access the archive online you can Visit this link. Jura Lives is also on Facebook and for even more info please visit this link

song-birds-juraMusic and nature are set to come together this autumn on Jura, with an exciting event celebrating the remarkable art and wildlife of the island. Song Birds/Bird Songs will take place on October 11, and will include a whole day of talks, walks, films, and music, all with a natural theme. There will be art workshops and children’s poetry writing sessions as well as birding walks for beginners, and an evening of whisky tasting, with a film commentary and art displays.

The day will culminate in a concert with Dan Haywood’s New Hawks and music from his new album, ‘Dapple’, in association with local music producers Sound of Jura. Dan is an ornithologist himself, who uses his relationship with the natural world as a direct inspiration for his songwriting. On the subject of his concert on Jura, Dan said: “It will be momentous for me to return to golden eagle country, and play these songs in their natural setting for this, our first visit to Jura.”

Giles Perring of Sound of Jura, said: “Jura is an island that boasts a talented native population. But it’s also a place that’s sought out by migratory musicians: by some to write and record music, and by others to play in one of the great wee halls in Scotland, to one of the most appreciative audiences you can find. Song Birds/Bird Songs is a real celebration of this, and will be an amazing mix of activities for everyone to enjoy. Expect creative stuff along the way, with photography, sound installations and some really exciting approaches to how to map birds and the landscape ‘as it happens’”

Featured in all its glory in the BBC’s Hebrides: Islands on the Edge, Jura is an important home for nature, with local wildlife including eagles, red deer and otters. Autumn is the season of the deer rut, and is also a time when many birds are on the move, as they migrate from their summer breeding grounds in the north, to more sheltered areas for the winter.

For further information about Song Birds/ Bird Songs, which is run jointly by The Sound of Jura and RSPB Scotland, go to: www.soundofjura.com or contact louise.muir@rspb.org.uk. Booking is essential for the evening concert.

It’s the time of year again for the roaring stags to produce their echoing sound in Jura’s glens and on the hills. The Red Deer Rut lasts around two months and starts mid September. In this time of year the stags are at their heaviest and the roaring helps to establish seniority within the herd. With a Red Deer population of well over 6,000 on Jura you are guaranteed to see and hear many groups. A fabulous time of year to visit the island.

Red Deer Stag Isle of Jura

jura-music-festSeptember 27th – 29th sees Jura celebrate its 20th Music festival. There have been some fantastic acts over the years to grace the small, intimate stage of the Craighouse village hall including Dougie Maclean, Blazin Fiddles, Karen Matheson, and Manran to name a few. The festival has also prided itself in showcasing the up and coming stars of the folk scene with performances from students of traditional music courses and competitors from The Young traditional musician of the year competition.

This year the successful formula off mixing exciting established and emerging acts remains. BBC Radio Scotland young traditional musician of the year – Paddy Callaghan will open up proceedings with his band on the Saturday night followed by The Paul McKenna Band, Fiddle super group Session A9 and then a good old west coast ceilidh from Deoch ‘n’ Dorus. Mc for the night will be the Fantastic Kathleen MacInnes. Also on Saturday evening the best, west coast covers band will be performing in the Marquee – Pete Smoke and the Roaches.

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blood-relatives-ewan-macphersonSound of Jura’s season of live music continues on 16 August with Glaswegian indie pop outfit Blood Relatives and musician’s musician, Ewan MacPherson and his trio. Blood Relatives were a big hit at this years prestigious Go North showcase festival in Inverness, their intelligent and danceable music combines great songwriting sensibility, in the best traditions of great Scottish pop, with an authentic ‘indie’ sonic vocabulary. Ewan MacPherson’s journey towards the heart of Scottish music was catalysed by his move to Edinburgh more than a decade ago, having studied at the famous LIPA performing arts school in Liverpool. He has become a highly regarded member of the Scottish acoustic music scene, with projects like the Scandi-Scottish fusion band FRIBO to his name, as well as numerous recordings and collaborations as a sideman to the greats of our contemporary music scene, like Breabach and The Battlefield Band. He is joined by double bass player Alex Hunter who also plays with the very happening Southern Tenant Folk Union, and violinist Lauren MacColl, who is one of the best players you’ll ever get a chance to hear.

Giles Perring, whose island music project promotes the Sound of Jura shows, said, “This is a cracking night we have in prospect here. We’ve picked out a young, fresh sounding band who are beginning to create a real stir on the musical map, and paired them with a group who ooze class and experience. It’ll be a journey through some of the best sounds happening in Scotland at the moment.” This gig also signals a change to the normal pattern of programming by shifting to a Friday night. So mark it your diaries, and make sure you don’t miss this treat on Jura. Tickets are £10 on the door or online. £9 in advance if bought in person at the Jura Hotel. For more info visit www. soundofjura.com.

Jura Whisky Festival Video

A few weeks ago the Isle of Jura Distillery celebrated their 50th Anniversary of the distillery re-opening during the Islay Festival week. As you can see it was a great day enjoyed by many!

Fishing on the Isle of Jura

Brian Turner, aka islayfisher, travelled to Islay with his fly fishing friends for their annual trip. This was their 20th year, 18 of which have been on Islay with occasional forays onto Jura too.

Brian Turner in the North of Jura

Brian Turner in the North of Jura

Arriving the week before Feis Ile the guys were quickly on the waters of Loch Gorm on the sunday taking out the boats of Jim McHarrie at Ballinaby. The day was to be quite benign by Loch Gorm standards and trout were taken and returned quite freely up to 1lb. The days fishing and start of the week activities were toasted with a dram of the Kilchoman new bottling “Loch Gorm” which seemed appropriate.

The ATV at Loch Bhurra

The ATV at Loch Bhurra

On the following day the lads were up early to catch the first Jura ferry which was to take them onto the island and up the road the 25 miles or so to Ardlussa Estate. On arriving at Ardlussa House a great welcome was given by hosts Andy and Claire Fletcher and an introduction to their guide for the day, Head Stalker Ewen MacInnes. After a quick coffee in the house Ewen set off up the road with the guys following until the end of the “official” road was reached. Gear and food was then transferred onto the ATV for the journey further up the track and then off over the wild hilly terrain of the northern most part of Jura. The journey was to a group of lochs towards the western side of Jura with views over to Glengarrisdale Bay and indeed north to Scarba and Corryvreckan.

The first port of call was on Loch a Bhurra where after an hour or so a number of small trout had been caught and returned by all of the team. From there a cast on a small lochan brought more success and the mist was beginning to lift and the sunshine brought out the splendour of this north Jura landscape. Lunch beckoned and Ewan suggested moving up to the high ground of nearby Clachaig Mhor to enjoy the views and the fantastic venison pasties supplied by Claire Fletcher. What a delight to take lunch and a sloe gin whilst watching Scarba appear from the mist into beautiful sunshine. Continue Reading »

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