Cycle from Feolin Ferry to Port Askaig
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The route starts at the boat house on the shores of Loch Tarbert, where once drovers landed their cattle and transferred across the gravel track to Tarbert Bay, to continue their journey to the mainland. The remains of a small chapel and a standing stone invite more exploring there, before the route follows the Long Road (A846) to Craighouse. After Lagg the iconic Paps of Jura come into sight, and there are beautiful sandy beaches just to the north of Craighouse.
Craighouse is a great place to linger for a while, with a cafe, hotel, the Jura Distillery (free samples) and a community shop. From here the route continues on the Long Road around the southern tip of Jura to Feolin Ferry. The Ferry House is the only dwelling at Feolin. The route turns right here, from where a great gravel road with a few small river fords leads into the Inver Estate. As the gravel road undulates towards Inver Cottage, it offers great views on the rugged coast of Jura and over to Islay, where a few distilleries are visible on the other side.
Where the gravel track leaves the coast, it passes through a short stretch of Atlantic woodland, the only of its kind on Jura. Climbing on a very smooth gravel track out of the woodland, the Paps of Jura dominate the view once again. The route passes Cnocbreac next. Once a small settlement, nowadays there is nothing left that indicates people living here. As stated on a sign on the estate, many islanders have connections to Cnocbreac and as the population of Jura halved through the time of the Highland clearances, some evictions took place here, but not on the scale as other places experienced. There’s a loch to the left, which is a short detour off the route.
From Cnocbreac the track gets rougher, and gradually climbs north. The views across the Sound of Islay on a clear day are stunning, with Colonsay and Oronsay visible in the distance. Both golden and white-tailed sea eagles can be found on the island, and there is an abundance of red deer which roam the countryside. Another track branches off to the left where the route turns inland and begins to climb steeper on the rocky track. The riding here becomes more technical, but most of the route is rideable on a gravel bike. Some sections might require pushing, depending on the riding ability and track conditions.
After another short section parallel to the coast the track takes a 90-degree turn to the right, and this is where the steepest part of the route begins. Beinn an Oir dominates the view to the left, and Beinn a’ Chaolais towers on the right of the track. On a clear day. make sure to stop to soak up the views in all directions from here. From where another track branches off to the left, the going gets really tough. Good bike handling skills are needed while bouncing over chunkier rocks. Where the route fords the Allt an t-Sluic Bhrodaich, it turns south. After another 1.5 kilometres you reach the route’s highest point at 261m. While the riding on the rough track is still demanding, it’s all downhill from here to Inver Cottage.
From Lochan Gleann Astaile a very smooth gravel ‘highway’ leads down to the coast. The existing lochan was raised to become storage for a large hydropower scheme, one of the largest privately owned hydropower schemes in the UK. You’ll notice the difference in riding compared to the rougher estate tracks. From Cnocbreac the route follows the same route back to the ferry terminal in Feolin, with frequent connections to Port Askaig on Islay. Information on timetable and fares can be found at Argyll and Bute Council website.