So, if you’re visiting Islay or Jura for the first time, what sort of weather can you expect?
That depends very much on the time of year you decide to visit. We’re fairly sure that nobody visits Islay or Jura to gain an all over tan. The months of May through to August, which is the traditional holiday season, can be quite changeable. Quite often sunny, but, yes unfortunately it does rain.
Years ago, Laphroaig Distillery had an advertising campaign that alluded to the fact that Islay could experience all four seasons in one day: this is perfectly true, though fortunately it is a rare occurrence.
The second factor that you would be advised to take into account is how you propose to travel around the Islands. If you arrive by car, then the weather is unlikely to affect getting from place to place. And with so many features of Islay that allow you to be indoors if the weather is inclement (Museum of Islay Life, Mactaggart Lesiure Centre, eight malt whisky distilleries etc, etc)
However, if you have arrived on foot or by bicycle, and plan to get around by the same methods, you should allow for two factors – Islay is effectively the last stop before the eastern seaboard of Canada with only the North Atlantic in between. This means that when it is very sunny, it’s also very easy to get sunburn because of the salt sea air and the fact that it will feel cooler than the mainland.
From a cyclist’s point of view, the biggest ‘complaint’ that we hear is that of the apparently perennial wind. Referring to the previously mentioned geographic position of the Island, the prevailing south westerly wind has direct access to our coasts – there is nothing to diffuse it before it reaches here. Add to this that there is little by way of physical shelter on many of the roads, you’re going to feel the wind. Just think of it as character building.
From about October onwards, the weather can cause transport disruption to and from both Islay and Jura. We have had a week during which the ferry did not sail for two days, there was minor flooding on some of the roads and the wind speed at the airport recorded a maximum gust of 115mph. Fortunately situations such as these are very few and far between, and although you can expect to need waterproofs over the winter period, due to the Gulfstream, Islay rarely gets snow or frost (there are palm trees growing next to the hotel on Jura).
So, having mentioned that few folks arrive on Islay with limitless quantities of sun tan lotion, you can expect to enjoy long periods of mild, dry and bright weather conditions. Those who arrive on these shores for birdwatching during the autumn and winter periods probably realise the weather that is likely to feature. 50,000 barnacle geese don’t arrive here from Greenland expecting equatorial temperatures. But even in the winter, we can still have four seasons in one day.