If there's one thing I could recommend visitors and locals to do on Islay, it would be a visit to the "south-east Islay Skerries marine Special Area of Conservation (SAC)". This is without a doubt one of the most stunning areas Islay has to offer. It's not a place you can easily walk to as this conservation area can be found off Islay's south-east coast. The area has been given its special status for the common seal colony and encompasses the offshore islands, skerries and the mainland coastline between Lagavulin Bay and Ardmore Point. A recent count by SNH revealed that the current population consists of well over 650 common seals. They are representing about 2% of the UK population and 1% of the EU population.
The best way to enjoy this stunning part of the island is by boat. Gus Newman, who runs Islay Sea Adventures from Port Ellen, is the man to talk to when you're interested in doing such a trip. Gus offers various trips in different types of boats. Last year we had the pleasure to visit this area in his large boat and yesterday we had an even more thrilling ride in his new RIB, a seven seater powered by a 225HP engine. Gus took us around the entire conservation area all the way up to u-boat bay where German submarines were occasionally hiding during the first world war. Continue reading....
Cormorants on the rocks just outside Port Ellen
The sheer number of wildlife we have spotted was incredible. We have seen hundreds of seals, also pups, all over the rocks. We have also seen a couple of sea eagles, many cormorants and gulls in all sorts and sizes. Gus also regularly spots otters. On top of all that we have seen a group of 7 red deer spread over the islands which they reach by swimming from the shore. On our way towards the conservation area we came up very close the Isle of Texa where we have seen a large group of wild goats. The day before Gus had seen the goats there as well and took a video which he posted on Facebook.
Seals and a Heron taking off
Doing a trip like this makes you even more aware what a stunning place Islay is. Of course many folk visit Islay the first time for the whisky distilleries but most of them return and bring their families because they have found out that the island has much more to offer. The choice of activities on Islay is great and I can highly recommend a visit to this stunning conservation area. We brought our six year old daughter too and she had the time of her life!
To book a stunning trip with Gus phone 01496 300129 or send him an email. Have fun! Below are some more views of the trip.
Waiting for "Take-off" in Port Ellen Marina
Gulls and a Heron
One of the dominant male goats
Red Deer on one of the islands
Gus Newman of Islay Sea Adventures
Location of the Islay Skerries SAC - Lagavulin to Ardmore Point