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5 September 2021

After visiting Corran Sands I drove a little further up the road that hugs the east coast of Jura. I wandered around a bit and got chased by some cows, but by now the weather was improving. It was always my intention on Jura to walk the ‘Evans Walk’, a six mile path across the wild central section of the island to the remote Glenbatrick Bay on the west coast. The walk is named after the one-legged landowner Harry Evans, who created the route to travel between the coasts on horseback. However, with the poor forecast, I had left Islay having given up on the hope of doing this big walk. But now things were looking brighter. So I drove to the tiny parking area next to the ‘Evans Walk’ sign along the main road and met two women (mother and daughter I think) locking their bikes to a fence and preparing to do the very same walk. Well if they’re doing it, I’m doing it I thought! However, not expecting to be on Jura for long, I had come to Jura with no supplies apart from a small bottle of water and a biscuit. Should I really set out on a potentially difficult 12 mile hike without any supplies, and not even having had breakfast? Well perhaps not, but I did anyway! The outward walk across the island was difficult at first because of the lack of a path for the first half a mile, and because of overgrown summer bracken covering the tracks in the last half a mile, but the five miles in between were on a well-worn path amid beautiful scenery, including a series of lochs flanked by the famous ‘Paps of Jura’ mountains. Fighting through the bracken was hard work, but on the other side, the scene that awaited was picture-postcard perfect. Glenbatrick Bay is stunning, with the turquoise water of Loch Tarbert and white shell sand forming an arc around the bay. Bizarrely, despite its remoteness – only accessible via the six mile walk or by boat – the beach is home to a large villa, Glenbatrick Lodge, owned by the wealthy Astor family and converted at considerable expense from a crofter’s lodge to a many-bedroomed habitable home once favoured as a holiday retreat by former Prime Minister David Cameron and his family. The lodge was shuttered up when I visited but I could see kitchen appliances and furniture still in place through the windows so I assume it’s still a going concern. Almost out of water I took a sip from the outdoor tap and filled my water bottle in the hope that (despite the peaty brown hue) it wasn’t going to kill me! Sitting on the dunes at the back of the beach was the perfect spot to relax and contemplate the long walk back, which turned out to be tough going at first. I must’ve fallen flat on my face a dozen times in the long bracken before hooking up with the track. I crossed paths with my two fellow walkers a few times during the day and again in Craighouse later in the evening, when (starving) I stopped off at Jura’s tiny bistro to find a roast chicken dinner on the menu. I can’t tell you how that made me feel! After inhaling my Sunday dinner, I headed down to the south of the island to pick up the last ferry to Islay … and only then did the heavens open. What a day.