Almost a year ago the Argyll and Bute council wrote a press release in which the South Islay Distilleries Path was specifically mentioned as being one of eight cycling and walking projects to get underway in Argyll and Bute. The planned path, for cyclists and walkers, was to connect the village of Port Ellen with the three distilleries of Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg. This would make the distilleries better accessible for the many walking tourists who now walk up and down the road to visit the three Kildalton Distilleries.
Some six weeks ago my wife, daughter and myself decided to "test" the first ready stretch of the path, which starts just beyond Port Ellen Primary School and ends before Laphroaig Distillery, for now that is. We waited for a nice sunny morning to walk the stretch to Laphroaig, a little over one mile. The views from the path over the sea are beautiful and, as always, can be much better enjoyed while walking. The path was an eye-opener for us. It's of a very good quality, it has a very smooth surface and it is quite wide and therefore it's great for cycling too, especially for the kids. You even have the opportunity for a detour if you leave the path and use one of the tracks, which lead to a nice wee beach. Continue reading.....
The one thing that did surprise us was the sudden end of the path. Just before you reach Laphroaig the path ends and you're forced to walk on the road again while we thought it would continue at least until the entrance of the distillery, that would have made more sense. When we asked around nobody seemed to know what the exact status was and it wasn't even sure when works continued to finish the path all the way to Ardbeg.
Looking south-west towards Port Ellen
However, a few weeks ago I read in the Ileach about extra funding for the path which is hopefully enough to complete it. The Ileach: "The South Islay traffic-free path linking Port Ellen to Ardbeg is to receive a grant of Â£250,000 thanks to a successful application by Argyll and Bute Council for funding from the Sustrans Community Links programme. Kirsten Laurie of South Islay Development said, â€œThis is brilliant news for south Islay and is a real tribute to the hard work of Pat McGrann and the Islay Community Access Group whose vision led to the creation of the path. Local councillor, Robin Currie said, â€œIâ€™m delighted that the Council successfully sourced this funding of Â£250k for the Port Ellen to Ardbeg pathway. I was involved right at the start of this project and Iâ€™m delighted that I was able to get the Council working in partnership with the community groups on Islay to enable this important project to happen. The creation of a pathway from Port Ellen to Ardbeg is of massive importance to locals and visitors alike.â€
Despite the sudden end at Laphroaig we had a most enjoyable walk, and with the good news about the funding we look forward to the rest of the path, it must be great when it is finished. It's a very welcome and much needed addition for the folk at Port Ellen and the three distillery villages as well as for the many tourists.
A detour from the path to a beach locally known as Laphroaig Beach at Farkin
Sudden end at Laphroaig Distillery