Islay Autumn Visit Impressions Part 2

I've ended part one with a visit of Bruichladdich Distillery and a coffee at Debbies. Tuesday started cloudy but dry and I treated myself with a walk from Bunnahabhain towards Rhuvaal. The ground was extremely wet and it was hard going so after an hour or so I returned home. From there we headed towards Port Ellen over the High Road and we enjoyed the beautiful light conditions and stunning cloud formations.

Bunnahabhain Distillery

After a stroll on White Hart Beach we met Roland near the Islay Hotel and without hesitation he welcomed us in the Hotel and gave us the Grand Tour which included a few rooms. It's amazing what he and his team have done with the place and it's a great asset for Port Ellen. After a good coffee and cake, and the use of free WiFi, we headed back to the car but not after meeting the resident seal in the harbour. It was now late in the afternoon and it started to rain so we headed home and enjoyed a nice dram.

Beautiful Light and Clouds seen from the High Road

The weather forecast for Wednesday looked quite alright so we headed for the neighbouring Isle of Jura on the 09.30 ferry, well that was the plan. It turned out that we were not the only ones and in the end we had a ferry around a quarter past ten and then it started to rain and not just a bit. So much for the weather forecast. Continue reading...

Islay Autumn Visit Impressions

You had probably expected this post yesterday but I decided to put The Islay Sessions post up first, it's great that this traditional music festival was so successful last year and even better that it will be followed up this year. Now back to our two week autumn trip. Let me start by saying that we had a magnificent time and it really does get better with each visit. It was so good to see so many friends again and to finally meet up with others who I've often emailed with but never met in person before. In the two weeks we were on Islay I took 2,143 pictures, created 31 new panorama pictures and I've shot almost 40GB of video. This should keep me busy during the long and dark winter evenings to come!

Islay Ferry MV Finlaggan

Our Islay visit started with the embarkation on the Islay Ferry MV Finlaggan at Kennacraig, a first for us and much to our pleasure I might add. Perhaps the ship is a bit too "posh" here and there and I would have loved to see that some of the "Fancy Stuff" would have been traded in for WiFi coverage but it isn't, perhaps something for the near future? A pleasant surprise was the travelling time, from Kennacraig to Port Askaig in well under two hours. Now this raises the question why there is a cafeteria on board the vessel when you're only a little over 1 1/2 hours on board (over two to Port Ellen)? In a limited sort of way they are competing with the local restaurants on Islay. In my humble opinion a coffee bar would be good enough, as long as they serve a dram too! Despite the absence of WiFi we enjoyed the Finlaggan much more than we had expected. Well done Calmac! Too bad though that the ferry will be taken off the Islay Route for four months starting November 1st! Continue reading....

Islay Fisher Travel Report

Brian Turner is a regular guest on the island and has been fishing Islay's lochs since 1995. You an read on his website why he visited Islay in the first place: "In the winter of 1993 myself and two fishing friends from the Scottish Borders, Charles Waldie and Keith Orr, decided to bring to fruition our thoughts of an annual wild trout fishing trip to the islands off Scotland̢۪s west coast. So it was that in May 1994 we sailed to Mull for what was a most enjoyable and rewarding maiden trip taking in the Mishnish Lochs, Loch Frisa and Loch Assapol. After our 1994 trip we made plans to visit Islay in 1995 and each year thereafter a different island. We did indeed sail to Islay in the May of that year and as I write in June 2011 we have been unable to stray beyond this captivating place with the exception of adhoc hops over to Jura during the subsequent years"

Brian and I frequently email since several years now and this year Brian sent me a wee version of his whereabouts on the island which he visited from 28th May to the 4th of June, just after the big storm. Brian: "We missed the big storm but the trees all over the island now look like they are in Autumn. It is amazing how far the sea spray got inland. We came back on the new ferry (broken down on our way there) and it is amazing. On the car deck I was particularly interested to see that the deck raised and then more cars parked below. Continue reading.....

Day Trip from Islay to Colonsay

One of the many highlights of this years Islay holiday was a day trip to the neighbouring island of Colonsay. A trip to Colonsay from Islay was on our wish list for quite some time but everytime we tried to go the weather was not good enough. You always have to consider the weather when you go to Colonsay. If the weather deteriorates during the day there is a chance that you can't return to Islay that same day and you have to wait for the next ferry to Oban (usually the next day).

Colonsay Ferry Terminal at Scalasaig

This year we were finally lucky with the weather. On Wednesday the 4th of May the sun was shining and we went to Port Askaig, the three of us and our car. We had to pay 63 pounds for the tickets and around 10 am we were sailing north in the Sound of Islay to Scarasaig on Colonsay. The one hour journey is very pleasant, the views to this part of Islay are wonderful and there is always some excitement when you're arriving on a new island for the first time. Our first visit that day was to the local shop to make sure we had something to eat and drink during the day. You have to remember that you arrive back on Islay at 7.30 pm!

Kiloran Bay

Colonsay is a lovely and peaceful island with a clock that runs perhaps even slower than on Islay. There are a few great tourist attractions and one circular road which you can drive in an hour but who would want that? We used almost four hours to complete the circular route and we stopped at Kiloran Bay, without a doubt one of the most beautiful bays in the west of Scotland. Later on we walked almost all the way up to Oransay, we were lucky because of the low tide. Locals and some tourists, like Paul and Joan from an Taigh Osda who we met on Colonsay that day, took their car across to Oransay where you can visit the beautiful priory. Continue reading....