Sue Visser of the Islay Genealogy list sent me a chapter of a Scottish Travel Guide from 1863. The official title is "Guide to the Highlands and Western Islands of Scotland, including Orkney and Zetland" and is written by George Anderson and Peter Anderson of Inverness, as said in the year 1863 when the world looked a whole lot different from today and when Islay had 13,000 inhabitants. The chapter Sue sent me is the one from Islay of course.
The author embarks on the Islay steamer "Islay" from Tarbert and arrives at Port Askaig. In the paragraph about Bowmore he writes: "After resting at Bridgend, proceed we now the metropolis of Islay, the village of Bowmore, lying about three miles south-west from Bridgend, and on the shore of Loch-in-Daal; a continuation of tile-roofed cottages extending partially along the shore from Bridgend. Bowmore is of considerable size, containing a population of from 900 to 1200 inhabitants. It was commenced in 1768, and is judiciously and regularly planned; but the plan has been but indifferently observed, houses being permitted to be erected from any size, shape, or material, suited to the means and views of the builder."
The author then continues his journey towards Port Ellen and heads on towards Kildalton where he writes: "Onwards a mile or two is the farm and house of Ardmore. From this quarter of the island, a good view is presented of the opposite coast of Cantyre towards Campbelltown, and the Mull of Cantyre. In clear weather also, the Irish coast is discernible to the naked eye. From Ardmore, round the coast to Port Askaig, there is scarcely any object of interest to reward the toil of exploring it. But if it suits the tourist's time and purpose better than returning by Bowmore and Bridgend to Port Askaig, he can easily make the latter place, from Laggavoulin or Ardmore, in the course of one day, though at the expense of some bodily fatigue."
As you can see the author had a nice way with words. On the main Islay Info site you can read the entire Islay chapter. Enjoy!