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Islay, Jura and Colonsay: natural beauty from the peaks to the depths

Islay, Jura and Colonsay: natural beauty from the peaks to the depths
Miles of sandy beaches, rugged mountains, soaring eagles and wintering geese: the Atlantic islands of Islay, Jura and Colonsay offer a tantalising glimpse of nature’s paradise. Here are five natural wonders on these Inner Hebridean islands that you can’t afford to miss.

1. Be sucked in by the sight of the Corryvreckan Whirlpool. Situated between Scarba and northen tip of Jura, Corryvreckan is one of the most dangerous stretches of water around the British Isles. The full strength of the current can reach over 10 knots, producing waves over 9 metres high. The famous Corryvreckan Whirlpool is the world’s third largest. You can visit it and experience its fierce waters by boat. There’s a range of tour operators in the area. It’s a beautiful stretch of Argyll’s coastline, and you might spot minke whale, dolphins, basking sharks and seals.

2. Life’s a beach. Sandy bays are dotted all around the coastline of Islay, but Machir Bay must be one of the best. It’s a beautiful two-mile long golden bay, backed by huge white sand dunes. Over on Colonsay, Kiloran Bay gets our vote. The sweep of bleached-white sand, broken only by occasional jagged rocks, is fringed by undulating green hills. On Jura, nature lovers should seek out the glorious sandy bay at Inverlussa. You can savour the view and enjoy tea and cakes right on the beach thanks to Tea on the Beach, the world's only walkie-talkie cafe.

3. Admire the famous Paps of Jura. These three distinctive hills dominate the view of Jura from almost all directions. Climbing the Paps is a must for the experienced walker. The view from the three peaks is pretty unbeatable. Or for the super fit, how about signing up for the Jura Fell Race?

4. Take a bird’s eye view on Islay. In autumn, thousands of white-fronted and barnacle geese arrive on the island from Greenland. Wading birds take centre-stage in spring, with the courtship displays of snipe, lapwings, redshanks and curlews. In summer, listen out for the corncrakes in the evening, or search out treecreepers, willow warblers, hen harriers and golden eagles. The RSPB reserves in Loch Gruinart and The Oa offer trails, hides and visitor information.

5. Go on gardening leave. Colonsay House Garden is considered to have one of the finest rhododendron collections in Scotland. The woodland garden covers some 20 acres and is a wonderful place to explore. The more formal walled garden is a riot of colour, with climbing roses, clematis and agapanthus. There’s also a rather lovely café.

While you’re out and about exploring Islay, Jura and Colonsay, you’ll find some brilliant places to eat and drink dotting the islands, many in stunning locations. On Islay try the Old Kiln Café at the Ardbeg Distillery, on Jura check out the Isle of Jura Distillery and on Colonsay treat yourself to some Isle of Colonsay Wildflower Honey. Find out more about the beautiful places to visit and fascinating things to do and see on Islay, Jura and Colonsay
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Iain Johnston Iain
Kintyre & Gigha
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Tea on the Beach JuraMachir Bay Picture © Copyright Peter ChurchPaps of Jura
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