Why Islay?

Why Islay?

All islands are magical.  Islands are separate worlds, like planets, each one unique, with its own atmosphere, geology, even moons. Hebridean islands are particularly special because they are a large group of Atlantic islands on the very north western edge of Britain. With the advent of modern ferries and aeroplanes, most of the islands are now accessible with ease, and yet they remain worlds apart.Islay is the most southerly of the Inner Hebridean Islands.  In terms of latitude it is broadly on a level with Glasgow, although much further west.  Islay is the Hebridean island that has it all, hence its name, Queen of the Hebrides.

a photo of a trout

Sea trout caught on Islay

A photo of the Ardbeg Whiskey Distillery with barrels in front of the building

Ardbeg Whisky Distillery

For many visitors, the eight whisky distilleries (soon to become nine) are Islay’s principal attraction.  These are indeed a rich source of history, culture and sensory delight.  We would challenge even staunch non-whisky drinkers to take one of the numerous tours through the smoky, peaty, spirity rooms of the distilleries and not be gasping for a dram at the end of it.
But there’s a lot more to Islay than whisky.  It is an island paradise for birdwatchers, ramblers, fishermen, artists and lovers of fine food.  The island is quite large and diverse, with a mild, gulf-stream dominated climate.  There are deserted, white sand beaches, stunning estuaries, salmon rivers, trout lochs, flower-filled woodlands and heather-clad hills.  Bird watchers have two large RSPB reserves where they can seek out rarities such as the corncrake, chough and golden eagle, although its best never to leave the cottage without binoculars, wherever you are going.

A painting of a Corncrake

Corncrake by Leo

It’s not a question of filling the time when you come to Islay but of cramming it all in, and you will never want to leave.

A photo of MV Finlaggan

MV Finlaggan approaching Port Ellen

By far the most romantic way to approach Islay, especially for the first time, is by ferry.  The drive to the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry terminal at Kennacraig takes in the unforgettable scenery of the Argyll Forest and Loch Fyne.  Even the ferry journey is a heady mix of fish and chips, sea spray and the intriguing outlines of Islay and Jura coming into view.
That said, the Loganair flight from Glasgow airport to Islay is 20 minutes of pure pleasure.  On a clear day you can enjoy views of the spectacular geography of the Clyde estuary and the Kintyre peninsula, as well as the islands of Arran, Bute, Gigha, Jura and Islay.

We look forward to welcoming you.

Martin and Jane