The A to Z of Scottish Places: J
||Acres: 90666, Height: 2575ft|
Separated from Islay by a half of a mile, Jura is the more rugged and less inhabited
of the pair of islands. Stretching for thirty miles and at most nine miles wide, Jura would be
two if but for a neck of land halfway along its length. The southern half is dominated by the
famous "paps" (breasts), mountains over 2500 feet high which are easily seen except on the
poorest days from the Kintyre peninsula. The island has only one road, from the ferry crossing
to Islay at Feolin to about two thirds up the eastern coastline. The rest of the island
is virtually trackless. Off the north end of Jura lies the Corrievreckan whirlpool
making the short stretch between Jura and the island of Scarba extremely dangerous.
In 1781 George Houston, the local laird, founded a town on the site of an earlier
settlement called Brig O' Johnstone. It soon outgrew its original plan and was heavily
involved in engineering throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Johnstone Castle was
demolished in 1956 when the council developed the land into a housing estate although the
central tower remains. Chopin stayed at the castle in 1848.