Posted by: intrepidjane | July 23, 2010

Islay & Jura : The Heart Of Scotland

If you're going to have a sponsor, you might as well have a big one!


Yesterday I wrote a post about my upcoming (and very last-minute – I only decided to do it YESTERDAY!!) 10-day 200+ mile run across Islay and Jura which I am starting on Monday 26th July. This is a very late addition to my Help For Heroes fundraising “portfolio” ( you can track my progress here ) but I think it’s showing all the signs of becoming one of the most significant elements of my quest. I’m not sure what its significance is yet : but I am sure I will learn its meaning whilst I am actually running on Islay and Jura.

I didn’t know which picture to use for the post but as I was scrolling through my album, one made me smile – so I posted it (and I’ve used it again today because there seems to be some magic in it 😉 It was taken last summer in Donegal after rock-climbing at Malin Beg and swimming in the Atlantic. I was blissfully happy. I had just met the man with whom I was about to fall in love.

There's nothing like a good stretch...a 200 mile stretch!

You could say that the picture is a little irreverent – and having my picture taken next to the Blessed Virgin Mary is not something I’ve made a habit of (although, talking of habits, I was mistaken – despite my swearing- for a nun once. REALLY ;-). As I posted it, the caption immediately came to mind – even though I am not of a religious persuasion .. my thinking being that if you are going to have a sponsor, you might as well go for the biggest sponsorship deal you can!

And so last night I set about emailing places to stay – a little worried that a peak season adventure (organised at the very last minute) may cause me to run into a few difficulties where accommodation is concerned. The strangest and most wonderful things have happened since 8pm last night….

I picked the figure of 200 miles in 10 days out of the air. To be honest, I even picked Islay and Jura out of the air .. I’ve lived in Scotland for 11 years and never felt a pull in that direction at all. So I sat down with a road atlas and the AA Route Planner site in front of me and set about planning a route .. basically attempting to cover every road on both the islands. And what do you know – covering all the roads adds up to 196.2 miles.. add in the extra mileage to reach 2 of the places where I am overnighting .. and I’ll be covering 2oo miles on the nose 😉 (in 9 days with the 10th left for a leisurely sail back to Kennacraig!). So, I had a tailor-made running route.

The next thing would be the task of finding places to stay. And I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity, helpfulness and kindness shown to me by the islanders.

Sally Underwood at Carraig Fhada House (near Port Ellen’s lighthouse) had no room at all but she has MADE room for me and is making no charge for my stay on the first and last nights of my run. You can find Sally’s place here

In Bowmore, I am staying with Kate who runs the Meadowside B&B. She has offered me a room at a fraction of the full price. You can call Kate here 01496 810479 and find details of her B&B here

In Port Charlotte, I am staying at Octofad Farm with Cathy who put me in touch with Liz Hathaway at the RSPB reserve near Ardnave. You can find Cathy’s place here

Liz at the RSPB Reserve has organised a tent for me outside the reserve’s bothy near Ardnave – with use of the cooking facilities. This is, literally, a Godsend, as finding places to stay in that area would have proven tough. Liz has also given me a contact who may be able to help me on Jura. You can read more about the reserve here

At Ballygrant (near Port Askaig), David Graham has made me a very generous offer for 2 nights (one on the way out to Jura and one on the way back) at the Ballygrant Inn. You can find David and Ewen’s place here

On Jura, Andy and Claire have offered me the use of  one of their cottages on the Ardlussa Estate – it’s in the EXACT location I need it to be in for my running itinerary (A big thanks to Andy at the Jura Hotel too -;-) He pointed me in exactly the right direction!)

My friend Ruth from Lochgilphead is helping with the organisation of potential evening meals and fall-back plans too. Thanks also to the MacFarlane clan for the use of their holiday house in Tarbert on Sunday evening which will help me catch an early ferry on Monday to Islay.

Craig at Cotswolds in Glasgow is BRILLIANT!

Also a GREAT BIG THANKS to Craig at Cotswolds at the West End Retail Park, Glasgow, who helped me with organising my kit for this 😉

It would seem that I am having an extraordinary run of luck and running into the kindest of people. And all organised within about 12 hours! Islay certainly has a very warm heart indeed.For those of you who know me well, you’ll know exactly why my heart really is in this run – and I think it’ll do my heart the world of good.

My Route :

Day 1 : Port Ellen to Kintour and back (15.6 miles)

Day 2 : Port Ellen, Lower Killeyan, Kintra, Bowmore (26.3 miles)

Day 3 : Bowmore, Portnahaven, Kilchiaran, Port Charlotte (26.8 miles)

Day 4 : Port Charlotte, Kilchoman, Ballinaby, Sanaigmore, Ardnave (24.5 miles)

Day 5: Ardnave, Bridgend, Port Askaig (18miles)

Day 6: (Jura) Feolin Ferry, Lussagiven (23.5 miles)

Day 7: (Jura) Lussagiven, Kinuachdrachd, Lussagiven (19.4 miles)

Day 8: Lussagiven, Port Feolin, Port Askaig (23.5 miles)

Day 9: Port Askaig, Bridgend, Leonin, Port Ellen (18.6 miles)

Average daily mileage : 21.5 miles

Tapering : zero (I am just turning up and running – as simple as that 😉

To give me something to look forward to, I intend to do the “cultural thing” and visit as many of Islay and Jura’s distilleries as I can. Already I have had lovely offers from the following distilleries (although Iam not sure how well ultra running and whisky mix….) :

Cheers! A toast to all those who have helped me!

My heartfelt thanks to all those who have helped me with this adventure! I have the sense that there is nothing random about these acts of kindness. It’s the strangest and yet most comforting of feelings.

If you’re feeling as generous as an Islay/Jura islander, feel free to make a donation here (I’ve raised over £6k so far).

Gotta run!

JT (Probably sponsored by God; definitely helped by the kind folk of Islay and Jura ;-))

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