Islay News Roundup First Half of July

Today another Islay news roundup with information and news snippets from Islay. Earlier I wrote about the drought on Islay and later I published an article about that same lack of rainfall. In the meanwhile most of the distilleries have shut down, this is however not because of the drought but it's the scheduled summer silent season. Since a couple of weeks the weather has changed significantly and unfortunately not for the better. There has been quite some rainfall in the last weeks which means that the reservoirs and loch's are filling up again providing (hopefully) plenty of water when the distilleries start their production again in August.

The weather forecast for the next two weeks I have started a couple of weeks ago to publish the two weeks weather forecast from the Met Office and I think I will continue with it for now. Please keep in mind though that Islay seems to have its own micro-climate which results in more sunshine than the weather forecasters predict, especially in spring and early summer. The forecast for Saturday to Wednesday looks fine with a mix of clouds and sunshine and the odd shower. From the middle of next week, spells of rain or showers are expected for many parts of the UK. Into the following week, northern parts of the UK will retain the greatest chance of seeing further rain or showers and winds may become quite strong across northwestern parts of the UK at times, and here, temperatures should stay around normal. For the latest five day forecast you can visit this link

Islay Ferry The current timetable is still based on one ferry due the repairs of the MV Clansman that last longer than foreseen. The idea is now that this situation will last until the 25th of July. There is also quite a lot of confusion about the booking system. Calmac has removed Islay from their online booking system where earlier they showed n/a in their online booking system. This gave potential visitors the idea that the ferries were either fully booked or couldn't be booked at all. This and the fact that the Colonsay ferry doesn't run on Wednesdays has caused cancellations with several Islay Hotels and Bed and Breakfasts. If you are planning on coming to Islay make sure to call the local Calmac offices at Kennacraig or Port Ellen if you have questions about bookings. They will do their absolute utmost to help every one out, so as to avoid disappointment. The contact telephone numbers are Kennacraig - 01880 730253 (select option 2) and Port Ellen - 01496 302209 (select option 2). There is enough space on the ferry so do get in touch with Calmac! Continue reading.....

Further expansion at Islay Studios Just eighteen months ago Islay Studios moved premises from Bruichladdich to Islay House Square which proved to be an immediate success. Now they have also taken over another unit in the Square, formerly Blue Lupins which will become in the short term the production base. This move coincides with the business celebrating ten years of trading on Islay. It was July 1st 2000 when the doors were opened for the first time for this new venture by Mark Unsworth, a decade which saw major changes in the way the professional photographic industry came to terms with the digital age. Islay Studios were one of the first imaging businesses to go fully digital, back in 2003, a revolution which really suited small and remote communities that couldn’t support local and fast film processing. This meant turn around times could be virtually instant for all sorts of work but especially for press purposes where deadlines are always very tight. By 2006 all digital printing was done in house with investment going into wide and large format printers. A wide variety of media are now used from fine art papers through to canvas and more recently there has been some experimentation with printing onto aluminium. All this has made Islay Studios one of the leading digital photographic galleries on the West Coast of Scotland. Congratulations to Mark and Helga!

Open Day At Gaelic College A steady stream of Gaelic enthusiasts found much of interest at Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle’s ‘open day’ at the St Columba Gaelic Centre on June 25. Among the local organisations with presence were Comann nam Pàrant, highlighting the benefits of Gaelic medium education, and helping to get their message across was the group’s snazzy T-shirts complete with pert Gaelic slogans. Another high point of interest was a project on Islay place names. This ongoing work is the brainchild of Anne MacGill who is to be highly commended on her efforts as many of these place names are in danger of disappearing into the mists of oblivion. Also paying a visit to ‘an làtha fosgailte’ was Emily Edwards who established the Seanchais Ìle project in which an almost forgotten way of island life has been preserved on page and disc.

Young Volunteer of the year Russell Campbell and Kate Ross at the recent prize giving for Volunteering in Argyll & Bute held on the 11th June at Kilmory. Russell won the Young Volunteer of the Year award and on the day won the overall prize of Volunteer of the Year. He has accomplished 400 hours of work at the MacTaggart Leisure Centre and Bridgend Community Garden with the support of Kate. The overall prize came with holiday vouchers which Russell and Kate will use for a well deserved break.

‘Biking Birder’ comes to Islay Gary Prescott, a dedicated birdwatcher who is cycling to every RSPB nature reserve in the UK, will be arriving at the Oa on Islay on 19 July. Gary is cycling in aid of three charities – the RSPB, WWT and Asthma UK. You can sponsor him and keep up with his trip at: and find out more about him on

18th Islay Senior Triathlon A big birthday and a big field of entries for this year’s Senior Triathlon which took part on Saturday 26th June and was sponsored by Bruichladdich Distillery and ScottishPower Renewables. This year involved 42 competitors, ranging for the ages of 12 to, well, considerably older than 12! In addition to the big prizes of the day, each competitor received a well deserved medal and a ScottishPower Renewables water bottle. Ten men and four women battled it out for the individual prizes, with the honours being taken by Eamon Staunton and Kerry KcKay-Hubbard, both from Mid-Argyll Triathlon Club. Special mention goes to the 3 local men and 2 local ladies who took on the challenge of the individual event and performed admirably. The only entry in the Junior Individual Male category was Iain Harrison who gave the old(er) guys a run for their money, setting a new Junior Male Record and finishing in a time that would have placed him 3rd in the Men’s event.

The Islay Wildlife Blogs John Armitage from Portnahaven wrote on the 1st of July: "The high winds and rain occurring overnight and into the morning dashed my initial intentions of completing further survey work. True to form the weather finally improved when it was too late to take much advantage from it!! Further north silage fields had been cut and gathered and local Choughs were taking full benefit from scouring the newly exposed areas for food." Ian Brooke wrote on his blog on Sunday 11th of July: "Yesterday evening, a couple of visiting birders from Hampshire had seen a Red Grouse along with 5 young when they were out checking what was present around Loch Gorm, that was before the rain came on! Yes, we already have had more rain so far this month than we had in total for May and June together. The sun is shining outside at present and it was nice this afternoon." Make sure to also check Ian's post of 12 July where you can see a beautiful image of young swallows. Don't forget to visit the Islay Natural History Blog, they have some very beautiful images of wild flowers and moths. For an overview of what other blog's wrote about Islay I can recommend the blogging roundup by Armin.

For now I wish you a pleasant weekend and look forward to seeing you here soon!

Parts of this roundup were published with kind permission of the Ileach local newspaper.

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