“Believe it or not, I had never tried Single Malt Whisky until I went to the island of Islay. I felt almost impelled to visit one of the distillery’s whilst on Islay and in the end I settled for a tour of Lagavulin. The tour was very interesting and at the end of it I was offered a ‘wee dram’. I decided to go for the 16 year old single malt, so after watching everyone else savour their dram, I downed mine. Woahhh! After gaining my speech back, I thanked the Tour Guide and made my way further along the road to Kildalton Cross, built in the later half of the 8th century. It is in a beautiful spot, with excellent views over to Jura.
Whilst on Islay, one of the places that I would recommend anyone to visit would be Portnahaven. There is a little pub at the Harbour front called An Tigh Seinnse (which means ‘the House of singing’ in Gaelic), which serves good food and has a great atmosphere. On the way back from the picturesque Portnahaven, I took the minor B road to visit the remains of Kilchiaran Chapel and then continued on via Port Charlotte to Machir Bay – a beautiful wide beach, that seemed to stretch for miles.
Also, worth visiting on Islay is the Museum of Island Life. The museum has documents and artefacts from Islay’s past and is great for kids, as well as adults.
Islay has got lots of attractions and every time you think that you have seen an amazing view, another one pops up around the next corner. One of my favourite islands”.
How do I get to Islay? You can fly to Islay with Flybe from Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Exeter, Glasgow, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Kirkwall, Manchester and Southampton. However, most of these flights are via Glasgow. Hebridean Air run a Tuesday and Thursday day return flight from Oban and Colonsay. To get to Islay on the Caledonian Macbrayne Car Ferry, you need to drive to Kennacriag on the Kintyre peninsula. From here there is a ferry to Port Ellen and to Port Askaig (depending on the sailing you require). It is also possible to get to Islay from Oban, via Colonsay on Wednesdays, with the Summer timetable.
How do I get around Islay? There is a Bus service that can take you to Ardbeg, Port Ellen, Bowmore, Bridgend, Port Askaig and Portnahaven – all the main villages on the island of Islay. There is Taxi hire available at Rhinns, Lamonts and Fiona’s taxis. Car hire is available at Islay Car Hire and D & N Mackenzie’s.
What’s worth visiting on Islay? There are eight distilleries on Islay. They are Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Kilchoman, Lagavulin and Laphroaig. Most of the distilleries have tours where visitors are welcome to watch the production process or better still, sample a ‘dram’ or two. Definitely worth a visit is the Museum of Islay Life, which is located in Port Charlotte. It is located in the former Free Church of Port Charlotte and includes collections reflecting the history of the island. Finlaggan in the North East of the island, is a small island in the middle of Loch Finlaggan. It was the headquarters of the Lords of the Isles, former rulers of the Hebrides and Kintyre.
Where can I stay on Islay? There are several hotels on the island of Islay including the Port Charlotte Hotel, Bridgend Hotel and Lochside Hotel. Other Isle of Islay Hotels are available through Hotels Combined. There are numerous Bed and Breakfasts including The Monachs in Nerabus and Glenegedale Guest House, located near the airport. There is self catering accommodation available at Lagmore House in Portnahaven, Arichalloch Cottages in Ballimony, Ian’s House near Port Ellen, and Ballivicar Apartments in Port Ellen. Also, there are Campsites at Kintra Farm in Kintra and at the Port Mor Centre in Port Charlotte. There is also a Hostel in Port Charlotte, housed in an old whisky warehouse!
Any other information on Islay? The villages of Portnahaven and Port Wemyss share a little whitewashed Church, which is located above the bay in Portnahaven, with separate doors for each village.