The beautiful Bunessan Bay on the Isle of Mull, just one of the islands on our Love Island Route.
Love Island Love Island is the perfect Scottish Gin Holiday for lovers of Scottish Gin. Featuring some of Scotland’s less visited coastal locations, these islands have a powerful charm to instantly possess their visitors. Like a fickle reality-show contestant, some give you their stormy side for days at a time, but when their sun comes out, their beauty is dazzling. You fall deeply in love, and you know it’s gonna last a lifetime!
There are 700 or so Scottish islands to love, but just 89 with people thrown in. The remainder have other attractive residents though. Some permanent, some just passing through. These islands were formed from ancient rocks, in places over a billion years old, others from volcanoes. Explore high mountain contours and low-lying sandy grasslands, there really is somewhere for everyone. Through history they’ve been woo’ed by Celts and Vikings, echoed in the place names and the surviving castles. Much evidence of some turbulent past relationships.
These days a more sociable culture has arrived on these gorgeous shores: The Gin Makers. And so, while you don’t need any better reasons to introduce yourself than the islands themselves, you now have the spirit to turn your day dreams into reality, and start seriously loving these islands! Plan your Love Island Scottish Gin Holiday with Ginspired Scotland.
Oban to Colonsay – Wednesday
This tour starts and ends in Oban, on a Wednesday! That might sound very precise, but to make the most of the ferry timetables, keep costs down, and spend less time travelling and more time enjoying yourself, that’s the best day to start. You may opt to drive there, and engage a driver for the remainder, or to self drive throughout. Many islands have car hire available if you’re prepared to travel as foot passengers on the ferries. The lovely folk at Colonsay Gin will even give you a lift to explore other parts of the island, if they’re available!
There’s an afternoon Caledonian McBrayne ferry from Oban out to the unspoilt island of Colonsay. Just over 2 hours cruising some of Scotland’s most beautiful seaways. Past lovely Kerrera, then following the south side of Mull out into open water and then Colonsay itself. What a way to begin your holiday, on an island with more sunshine hours than anywhere else in Scotland!
Accommodation here ranges from self catering cottages, a hostel, or the elegant Colonsay hotel perched just above the harbour at Scalasaig. Be sure to order one of the island gins at the bar.
Colonsay – Thursday & Friday
Colonsay has delights aplenty, from the debate over whether Balnahard or Kiloran beach is more beautiful, to knowing which of the two island gins you should try first! Choices, choices to make. Colonsay Gin offers Gin Lovers Retreats on Friday and Saturdays, with accommodation and meals included. At other times they offer afternoon tours of their craft distillery, or more formal tasting sessions, perhaps featuring gins from their global collection, or a hand crafted selection of Scottish lovelies, according to your wishes. So book in for a Thursday tour unless you’re able to stay around.
Wild Island Gin ‘Distiller’s Cut’ is made right next to the ferry terminal and shop, and runs tours on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays & Saturdays, with tastings too. Don’t miss it!
Colonsay is home to seabird colonies, exotic plants which enjoy the mild climate, wild goats, a brewery and even an 18 hole golf course. So there’s something for everyone. Truly an island not to be missed!
Colonsay to Islay – Saturday
Leaving Colonsay on the Saturday evening ferry to Islay’s Port Askaig, you arrive nicely in time for a late dinner, or perhaps just a local gin nightcap. (Don’t miss this ferry, and book well in advance – the next one’s not until Wednesday!)
Accommodation? There’s such a wide range from the elegant Islay House, to self catering and camping.
One of our favourites is Glenegedale House with Fiona’s incredible home baking, but the island information website also has a great selection:
Islay – Sunday
Islay is often called the Queen of the Hebrides. You can easily fill a week or more here, but for this trip we just have 2 days. You can squeeze visits to the island’s two gin producers in one day though!
Jura – Monday
Jura is a very visible presence from many parts of Islay, with it’s distinctive Paps or hills looking across the fast flowing sound to Port Askaig, Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain. It’s Islay’s little sister, but as little sisters often do, she has her own distinct personality.
On Jura, people number around 200, but there are well over 5000 red deer, so you are bound to come across them during your visit. The ferry from Port Askaig on Islay to Feolin on Jura runs daily every hour during the daytime, weather permitting.
From Feolin, there’s just one road, to Craighouse, the main village with the whisky distillery and the hotel, and onwards to Ardlussa and our destination – Lussa Gin. Lussa Gin was founded by three ladies, Claire, Alicia and Georgina who grow or forage all of the botanicals they use in Lussa gin right here on Jura. Their enterprise began in 2015, but recognition and awards soon followed and exports are now well established. Book your visit here
Not far beyond Ardlussa is Barnhill House, where George Orwell wrote 1984 in his later years. It’s ironic to think he wrote about Big Brother, when in such a remote spot the only beings watching him would have been the deer and eagles of Jura!
You’ll probably return to Islay to sleep as it’s an early ferry tomorrow, but enjoy lunch or a drink or two at The Jura Hotel while you’re there.
Islay to Seil and Oban – Tuesday
The CalMac sailing from Port Ellen leaves at 945am, arriving 1205. Taking the ferries in this combination means you won’t cover the same route twice, giving you new sights around every headland. Landing at Kennacraig you head north to Oban. Rather than try to keep up with the whisky lorries or the speedy fish vans though, take some detours to the Crinan Canal, or up historic Kilmartin Glen, and make the most of your afternoon.
The Slate Isles – Tuesday
Before you return to Oban, take a small diversion across the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, that’s right, here you can cross the Atlantic by bridge! This bridge carries you across to Seil, the northernmost of the Slate Islands, or ‘The Islands that Roofed the World’. Slate was mined here for many years, possibly even in Viking times although the earliest recording is from the early 1500s. These slates were used in the construction of Castle Stalker in 1631, Cawdor Castle and Glasgow Cathedral too. Fascinatingly, the slate dimensions were referred to as Ladies, Countess, Duchess and Princess, in ascending order of size. I wonder why? There’s a Heritage Centre here and it’s well worth a visit. If you find the answer, perhaps you could let me know?
Our recommended accommodation tonight and tomorrow is the lovely Aspen Lodge, just outside Oban.
Oban – Wednesday
After enjoying a wonderful breakfast at Aspen Lodge explore the delights of this area for the day. Choose from cycling, boat trips, gardens, castles, a whisky distillery, shopping, a chocolatier, great seafood restaurants, horse riding, diving, walking or just wandering and people watching! There’s plenty to occupy you and it makes for a great excuse to relax and chill.
Don’t miss Oban Whisky and Fine Wine on Stafford Street, to see their selection of Scottish Gins while you’re in town.
Overnight again at Aspen Lodge.
Oban to Mull – Thursday
Mull – Another Love Island
Today’s destination is the beautiful island of Mull. From Oban, the short 40 minute sail to Craignure passes the strategic stronghold of Duart Castle, home to the Clan McLean for over 700 years. At Craignure, head north along the coast road to the island’s picturesque capital, Tobermory.
Tobermory Distillery is found at the southern end of town, and is open daily from 10am to 4pm, This distinctive gin is really worth getting to know, and their whisky’s pretty good too!
With a selection of pubs and restaurants, including the famous fish and chip van on the harbour, there are plenty of places to eat in colourful Tobermory. There’s a jeweller who still crafts intricate chains on the premises, craft shops, galleries and coffee houses, leave plenty of time to explore this charming Hebridean harbour town. You may choose to spend the night here in one of the variety of hotels or B&Bs, or to continue around the coastal roads to explore more of the island. Calgary Bay is a treat, but the narrow roads require patient drivers.
Next stop is at Tiroran, home to White Tail Gin. The direct route from Tobermory takes around one hour and it’s a gorgeous journey. Tiroran House, hotel, restaurant and self catering is beautifully situated, and even casual visitors can enjoy their coffee shop where the local gin can be sampled and purchased too.
Staffa – Friday
Whether you spent the night at Tiroran or Tobermory, we recommend you head to the south of the island today. At the very foot of Mull is Fionnphort and the ferry across to ‘The Cradle of Christianity’, Iona. But before you follow the crowds (and it does get very busy), consider taking the early boat out to visit Staffa?
Staffa’s caves (Fingal’s included) face east, so are best viewed in the morning light. You might even get there while the resident puffins are having their breakfast (April to late June), or spot a huge snoozing basking shark or minke whale along the way.
Time to pick up a lobster roll or crab sandwich from the kiosk on the quay – I hope it’s open during your visit, but it all depends on the catch!
Iona – Friday
Iona is a small island and you can’t take your car there, which makes it a very calm experience, even on busy days. The Abbey is beautiful and the sense of peace is pervasive, even if this type of spirit is not your preferred tipple.
Relatively new, and not yet produced on the island, Isle of Iona Gin contains some of Iona’s unique plants in it’s botanical range. Hopefully it won’t be long before you can include both types of spiritual experience in your visit. Yet another Island to Love!
A short walk takes you to Iona’s main sites before your ferry returns you to Mull.
You’ve the chance to set foot on 3 islands today. Why not top it off with a Castle on your way back to Oban on the late ferry? You have time to include Duart Castle or the lovely Castle at Torosay, built around 500 years later. Both are on your route back to the ferry at Craignure.
We have to finish somewhere, or just go around again!
It’s your final night! So spend it on Mull or in Oban. Your choice depending on your onward travel plans.
We hope you’ve loved our island itinerary, but do come back again, this has only been a journey of seven isles and seven (or eight) gins, and there are plenty more to savour!
Wherever your island exploring take you, be sure to check out our free Gincyclopedia Gin map to help plan your true love island adventure!