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Hiking trail

Craighouse to Market Loch

Hiking trail
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  • Small Isle Bay
    / Small Isle Bay
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • / Jura Distillery
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • / Market Loch signpost
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • / The track up to Market Loch
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • / A deer in the forest on the route up to Market Loch
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • / The view over to the mainland
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • / Narrow path beside the river gorge
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • / The faint grassy path ascending to the loch
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • / Market Loch
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
m 200 100 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 km
Walk from the sea to the water source for Jura’s whisky following forest tracks and grassy hill paths with commanding views to the mainland.
Distance 7.4 km
2:00 h
234 m
223 m
Begin this short linear walk in the centre of Craighouse village, follow the quiet road away from the coast for ~1 km before ascending on forest tracks and grassy hill paths to reach the loch (240 m above sea level).  Although short, this walk does have varied underfoot conditions and can be boggy after wet weather so please bear this in mind when choosing your footwear.  The views over the sea to the mainland are worth the climb!

Author’s recommendation

Jura has plenty of iconic Scottish wildlife so while you’re walking keep an eye for otters down at the shore, to red deer in the forest, and golden or sea eagles soaring in the skies about. 
Profile picture of Catherine Allan
Catherine Allan 
Update: September 17, 2018
Highest point
241 m
Lowest point
5 m
Best time of year

Safety information

The route begins and ends with 1 km of walking on quiet single-track road with grassy verges.  Please observe the highway code and walk on the right-hand side of the road into oncoming traffic so you are more easily visible.  The rest of walk is on wide gravel tracks and dirt/grassy hill paths which can be boggy.  Please see the turn by turn directions for safety information as you walk.

Tips and hints


Points of Interest

Market Loch

Market Loch is quite unassuming nestled amongst the heathery hills overlooking the Sound of Jura, but it is popular with fisherman and, more importantly, is the water source for the Jura distillery. 

Jura Distillery

The distillery is the life-blood of this 30 mile long island with only one village, Craighouse, in which the distillery is distillery is situated.  The distillery looks out across the Sound of Jura to the mainland to where you’ll get excellent views on a clear day.  The distillery offers 3 types of tour ranging from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, the type of tour is dependent on the day but their basic tour is available from April-Oct Mon-Sat at certain times.  Please check their website for more details and to book. 


The island’s only village, Craighouse, has a small population and is scattered along the cast of Small Isle Bay.  There is a small community shop, church, hotel (with pub and restaurant), all overlooking the bay.  It is a popular stop-over point for those sailing around the islands of the west coast, and you may here sailors discussing their travels over a drink in the Jura Hotel of an evening. 


Food & Drink

There is nowhere to eat or drink along the way so do bring enough water for the walk.  You can stock up on snacks/provisions from the Jura community shop (please see the daily/seasonal shop opening hours or ask at your accommodation).  You could also ask your accommodation if they can make you a packed lunch the evening before so it’s ready for you in the morning. 


Craighouse community shop (8 m)
OS Grid
NR 52697 67107
55.833631, -5.950899
55°50'01.1"N 5°57'03.2"W
30U 315199 6191502


Jura Distillery junction

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00 km – With your back to the community shop in Jura TURN LEFT and walk towards the distillery ahead on the right. 

0.06 km – On reaching the distillery BEAR RIGHT to pass the hotel on your left and ascend out of Craighouse village on the single-track road.  Please beware of traffic as there is no pavement – you can stand aside on the grass verges if a car comes along.

1.10 km – TURN RIGHT off the road at the wooden signpost for Market Loch (there’s a small gravel car park on the right-hand side).  Continue STRAIGHT ON along the wide gravel track with forestry on your left.  Keep an eye out for red deer – they’re very common in this forested area. 

2.10 km – BEAR LEFT where the track splits and continue STRAIGHT ON.  At the junction, look down to your left and you’ll see a standing stone amongst the trees.

2.30 km – BEAR LEFT where the track splits again and continue to follow the track as it becomes a narrow dirt/grassy path between the heather and ferns.  In the summer the path might be difficult to spot as the ferns may be just below waist height. 

Continue STRAIGHT ON following the path as it ascends the hillside between the forestry on the right and a small, steep river valley on the left.  Take care not to trip on tree roots, or walk too close to the steep drop-off into the river valley when walking on the section of the path.

2.90 km – After steeply ascending continue STRAIGHT ON to pass through a wooden swing gate to leave the forestry behind.  Pay attention to the path here as it could be boggy and difficult to spot after a rainy period. 

3.20 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON to cross a ~1 m wide peaty stream which cuts the path across the hillside.  Take care when crossing not to slip before continuing to ascend on the grassy path on the left-hand side of the rocky outcrop ~15 m ahead.  You can see a stone wall on your left-hand side. 

3.30 km – The path curves left to join the wall, continue STRAIGHT ON the path keeping the wall on your left and the rocky outcrops on your right.  Follow the wall until it ends by the shore of the loch in 400 m.  After heavy rain the path here can be particularly boggy.

3.70 km – You are now at the end of the low stone wall at the loch shore.  The Market Loch (or Loch a Bhaile-Mhargaidh in Gaelic) is the water source for the Jura whisky distillery.  After taking in the view of the loch up the glen retrace your steps back down the path, to track, and finally to the road leading back to Craighouse village. 

4.0 km – You may wish to pause here – descending gradually with the outcrops on your left you’ll get great views out over the sea to the mainland on a good day. Continue STRAIGHT ON the path.  

4.10 km – As the wall drops off down the hill on your right BEAR LEFT away from the wall over the knoll ahead to continue descending on the grassy path you walked up on.  Take care crossing the peaty stream again after passing on the right-hand side of the rocky outcrop in ~20 m. 

4.20 km – BEAR LEFT to remain on the higher, less boggy, path descending the hill.  Follow the path downhill to reach the top of the steep-cut river valley on the right in 400 m, with the forestry on the left once passing through the wooden swing gate. 

4.70 km – Take care not to trip on tree roots, or walk too close to the steep drop-off into the river valley when walking on the section of the path, continue STRAIGHT ON to follow the path.

5.10 km – Follow the path left away from the river and fence to rejoin the track.  Shortly after rejoining the track BEAR RIGHT to follow the track, descending gradually, all the way back to the road. 

6.30 km – At the T-junction with the road and the small gravel car park on your left TURN LEFT onto the road.  Please take care, and beware of traffic, standing aside on the grass verge if a vehicle passes.  Follow the road into Craighouse.

7.40 km – After entering Craighouse village on the road finish the route at the T-junction with the white and black painted village signpost in front of the distillery.  Now you know where the Jura’s source is you can take a tour of the distillery feeling slightly more informed and enjoy a well-earned dram at the end.


all notes on protected areas


OS Grid
NR 52697 67107
55.833631, -5.950899
55°50'01.1"N 5°57'03.2"W
30U 315199 6191502
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


This is a short walk designed for a morning or afternoon walk so a small rucksack with some water, snacks, and some clothing (waterproofs and a spare warm layer) should be sufficient.  You may wish to bring walking poles as there are some small stream crossings higher up and after wet weather there may be boggy conditions to navigate.  Bear this in mind when choosing your footwear also!

Basic Equipment for Hiking

  • Sturdy, comfortable and waterproof hiking boots or approach shoes
  • Layered, moisture wicking clothing
  • Hiking socks  
  • Rucksack (with rain cover)
  • Protection against sun, rain and wind (hat, sunscreen, water- and windproof jacket and suitable legwear)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking poles
  • Ample supply of drinking water and snacks
  • First aid kit
  • Blister kit
  • Bivy / survival bag  
  • Survival blanket
  • Headlamp
  • Pocket knife
  • Whistle
  • Cell phone
  • Cash
  • Navigation equipment / map and compass
  • Emergency contact details
  • ID
  • The 'basic' and 'technical' equipment lists are generated based on the selected activity. They are not exhaustive and only serve as suggestions for what you should consider packing.
  • For your safety, you should carefully read all instructions on how to properly use and maintain your equipment.
  • Please ensure that the equipment you bring complies with local laws and does not include restricted items.

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7.4 km
2:00 h
234 m
223 m


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