Slow Road to Muckle Flugga


two wheels are best
I've been to Scotland a few times now with my Scottish wife and had always thought it would be perfect for a bike trip. So this Tour de Ecosse has been a while in the planning, pouring over my old A3 Collins paper road atlas and stitching something together.

Muckle Flugga is the northernmost piece of rock in the British Isles. It sits off the northern tip of Unst, which is on top of the Shetland Islands, which are closer to Norway than England . . . .
Perfect for a destination -

13 days, 16 ferries and approx 2000 miles was the plan :endu . I pre-booked pubs & B+Bs given it was summer (so probably busy), but besides these & the 4 ferries that had to be booked, I'd just ride where I wanted on the day.

Planes, buses and trains the day before got me from Italy back to Troon.
Picked up the VFR from its temporary back-shed home, packed lots of wet weather gear (and boy was it needed :wink: ) and thermals (which weren't) and setout early the next morning on the first leg, from Troon up to Ardrossan to catch the ferry to Brodick, Arran.
I was booked on the 8:30am ferry but couldn't sleep so left early and was at the terminal at 7:15 to learn the 8:30 had been cancelled 3 weeks ago. "We sent you an email", Well I've been travelling since then, "OK we'll just put you on the 7am ferry", which hadn't left yet :D , continuing the theme of approximate ferry timetables which started at the IOM.
So I left earlier than expected on a ferry running behind schedule. Huh ? :lol: -

Must not stop too often for photos I thought, which lasted about 4 miles :wink: . The String road (aka B880) climbing out of Brodick behind -

Onto Arran's unclassified west coast road and headed north -

A bit pressed for time this morning as I was booked on the 1pm ferry over to Islay and I had a ferry in the middle (from Lochranza) which I had to get on, otherwise my plans would be scuppered -

Lochranza is on the north coast of Arran -

Onto the little MV Catriona (same name as our eldest:cdle ) and crossed over to the Kintyre peninsula (bumped the Art button again on the Olympus :???: , like it though) -

Short trip east to Skipness to look back over glowering Arran -

Entrance to Skipness Castle, which I didn't go into -

Then north up the B8001 to pop out at Kennacraig. I could have got here without ferries, but I like ferries -

Boarded a big ferry at Kennacraig for the 2 hour crossing to Islay. Entering the Sound of Islay -

Disembarked in Port Askaig. The tiny ferry that shuttles between Jura (where I was heading) and Islay runs all day, so I had time for a short tour of Islay. Went west then south onto an unclassified road from Ballygrant. This road was beautiful -

Looped around and went north up to the end of the road next to Loch Gruinart. A sea loch; the tide was out -

Then meandered back to Port Askaig. The Paps of Jura ahead -

More to come . . .
Last edited:


Mapping the next ride...
Staff member
Bowing.... to Muckle Flugga !!!

This better be a flucking muggle of a place!!:thumbs:


two wheels are best
Just missed the ferry so had an hour to kill, no hardship here, wandered around chatting to locals and taking pics. Port Askaig has its own tiny resident fleet of lobster boats -

The Paps of Jura loom large behind. The plan is to climb one of them in the next couple of days -

I'm a sucker for these kick-arse boats -

Jumped onto the tiny ferry on its next journey for the 10min trip across to Jura. This ferry is run by an independent company. Their 2017 timetable, freshly published on the Argyll and Bute Council's website, said they do a 6:20 crossing but you need to book it 3 days ahead. So I attempt to book it with the driver while crossing over, to be told, "Och we're no running that the noo, no enough business". Well I'd booked my Jura pub for 3 nights expecting to come back on that ferry for a tight big-ferry connection back to the mainland (yep, learning as I go, tight ferry connections not a good idea :???::( ). Glad I asked at least - enacted plan-B later on by booking that 3rd night back at the Port Askaig pub.

Onto Jura. Abhainn Mhor -

There's only 1 road on this island and it's completely single track -

Jura is huge but only 200 people live here, most of them in Craighouse which is the only real town -

Digs -

Craighouse's harbour is formed by the Small Isles -

Resident swan and signet family -

Evening stroll. The couple on the small yacht just offshore were from Ullapool and on a month-long tour of the west coast of Scotland. They camp on board and eat in local pubs or do a beach bbq. Sail one day, rest one day, good plan :thumbs: -

Hiking gear on, setoff early the next morning for a big day out, and headed north -

The northern most Pap -

The road gradually deteriorated the further north I rode, probably in synch with the dwindling number of houses, not that there were many anyway :). A couple of heart-starters with shady steep up & downs on narrow strips of sealed with big potholes and cambers, with strips of slick-as-snot grass in the middle :shock: . Past Lealt and to the gate, where the map says the public road ends but by the power of Google I know better :wink: -

A couple of miles later of gravel and grass is the actual end of the public road -

Time to hoof it to Corryvrecken Whirlpool (where navigation is banned to HMS vessels by the Royal Navy), and to find that 7 miles only takes you to the bluff above it and there's another 1.5 miles of rough walking to actually reach the shore :shock: -

Those hills on the far horizon ? Walked past them :kna :lol: ... -

Foxgloves everywhere, mildly poisonous -

The national flower (with fat bumble bee getting stuck in :D ) -

The power of Google and local knowledge has drawn a blank on this little fella -

Barnhill Cottage, where George Orwell wrote 1984. It's the second last house -

Jura used to be covered in this apparently -

Kinuachdrachd Bay -

The last house, at Kinuachdrachd, and it's lived in too. Talk about remote :shock: -

Bye-bye stone path -

Corryvreckan Straight, with uninhabited Scarba beyond. Corryvreckan Whirlpool is fairly famous in marine circles, it's difficult to capture in a picture, but from this height it was roaring like loud surf -

Eventually found and followed a creek down off the bluff -

Home to thousands of midges :wow: -

There are whirlpools everywhere, this smaller one next to the shore, strong currents running in all directions. And loud. Ian Thorpe would drown quickly in here -

Then in a flash someone took away the sun and 10 degrees of temperature and replaced them with rain, a freezing wind and some thunder (apt place for that ! ). Thank goodness for jacket, beanie and gloves then :thun -

Got lost going back up the bluff and had to scale a pretty sheer bit, don't look down :eek:. Then trudged the many miles back in increasing rain, cup of concrete needed to stay warm :kna and ignore the pain from my ankle's stress fracture (don't ask ... :stupid:). Made for an atmospheric photo though :wink: -

More to come . . .
Last edited:


Mapping the next ride...
Staff member
Thanks for the comments :)

Here's my luddite version of Gmaps (for this first section ignore the pink route line north of Kennacraig) -

Hey, YOU'RE putting up a cracker-yarn :woot:

Thanks for the maps.... that was a fairly close guess.
And that "Muckle-Flugga" really rolls of the tongue now...
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