It goes without saying that Islay is a magnificent island for people who like to walk and discover the splendour the island has to offer, although for a first time visitor it's sometimes hard to find the little less obvious places to stretch your legs and enjoy the beauty the island has on offer. About a month ago Maggie Woodman from the Islay and Jura Marketing Group sent me a beautiful wee booklet which contains many walks on Islay. My initial thought was finally.... this is what everyone who visits Islay really needs, a handy booklet with beautiful walks all over the island. The guide contains wee strolls in the woods at Bridgend to more challenging walks in the remote areas of the island. There are 25 walks in total and each walk is properly described. You will find info on where to park, the wildlife you are likely to meet and directions for your walking route including detours. Of course I had planned to write a review about this excellent guide but a couple of weeks later I found a review from Carl Reavey, editor of the Ileach Newspaper, and who can explain the ins and outs of this guide better than someone who actually lives on the island, so here we go: Continue reading.....
Carl: The Islay and Jura Marketing Group have produced this handy guide to 25 of the best known and most accessible walks on Islay that will surely become an essential item in the rucksacks of both local folk and visitors. The bookâ€™s format is immediately appealing, with bright colour photographs adorning front, back, and interior with a practical wire spine allowing optimum display of the relevant pages while out in the field. Each of the walks has a comprehensive and clearly written text outlining the route accompanied by an attractive map (image below) - although I have never forgotten the basic mapmaking rule drilled into me by my geography teacher at school, which was that a map is not a map without a scale and a key. These maps enjoy neither. No matter, they are better than many of those presented in this type of guidebook, and although perhaps a little light on detail, they should really only be used in conjunction with Ordnance Survey maps anyway. Their purpose is surely to illustrate what is possible rather than show every field boundary and burn.
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of a book like this is as a means to clearly present to walkers new to the island a set of routes where they can be confident that they will be welcomed. The 25 walks featured are by no means the only ones that fall into this category, but those of us who regularly pull on our boots here are conscious that this is not always the case. Sticking to the routes and rules illustrated here should ensure that there are no unfortunate confrontations to spoil your enjoyment of this wonderful island. The walking guide is available from C & E Roy and other outlets at Â£7.50.
An example of a map you'll find in the Islay Walks Guide