I never used to be a great fan of walking or cycling but as the years go by I seem to increasingly enjoy pootling along soaking in the scenery. My wife tells me that I do this too often in the car when I should be looking at the road.
Anyway the island of Jura is an excellent spot for such activity and what better way to wind down after the Jura Fell Race than gently cycling up to the north end of the island and doing a spot of exploring on the rarely visited west coast. Jura is one of those very special unspoiled islands, most of it is uninhabited and deer outnumber humans by about 5,800 to 200.
Pleasing scenery on the west coast of Jura.
After Dave Turnbull of BMC fame had to drop out I paired up with his partner Kasia Osipowicz. Being young and of hardcore Polish blood the 20 mile cycle to get to the roadhead proved not to be gentle at all but a testing exercise for the Fowler body. Sweat flowed freely and my bright orange tee shirt made an appearance as an apparently unfashionable sun hat to cover my bald patch. At length a chain across the track indicated the point at which a trackless walk across Jura bog and fearsome grass tufts was necessary to get to the idyllic Glengarrisdale bothy.
Personally I thought my improvised sun hat was rather fetching.
Pleasingly no-one else was there and we were free to explore alone along the deer tracks on Jura’s raised beaches. I hadn’t quite appreciated how the ancient raised beaches here look as if they were washed by the sea just months ago. Our little guidebook suggested that they might make good bivouac spots but failed to mention the vast quantities of smelly wild animal poo on the floors. Steep cliffs lured us on and on to the north until, drunk on climbing possibilities and short on daylight, intermittent running was required to get back to the bothy by dark.
The delightful Glengarrisdale bothy
Similar action to the south in the morning preceded a trog back across the island to find the solitary figure of ex Everest guide Jon Tinker sat on the chain. We hadn’t met for 25 years and yet we are clearly still drawn to similar spots. It’s a small world.
Jura is a tick friendly place and Dave subsequently counted 28 ticks on Kasia’s body. I couldn’t find any on mine which either indicates that I am short sighted or very unpleasant if you are a tick.
Jon talked about getting together on a six day walk down the whole west coast of Jura. That would allow a full assessment of the rock climbing potential and make a nice outing of a length not far short of the time Vic and I expect to spend above the Bergschrund in India. Oh dear – the more I do the more I realise there are more things that I would like to do. I suppose that’s good really.
Heading north on Jura