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RSPB Islay – More to See and Do in 2017

Hello, and welcome to my first guest blog on Islay Info. I’ll be blogging on a regular basis, hoping to give everyone up-to-date news and information about what I’m up to on Islay in my role as the RSPB Community Information & Tourism Officer. That’s a mouthful and a real tongue twister to start with, so the job is often referred to as ‘CITO’. I am part of a fantastic team that manage our farms and reserves on the island and, whereas I consider them to be the brains behind our operations, I have made it my mission to be the ‘mouth. Should you visit the reserves, particularly the Visitor Centre at Loch Gruinart, or even better, join one of the many guided walks I have planned over the next 7 months, you’ll be left in no doubt that I take that responsibility seriously!

I also go by the name ‘Botswana Dave’. This is because there are a quite a few of us on Islay all called “David”, so with all the usual abbreviations and nicknames already allocated, and because I have spent a considerable part of my adult life in Botswana, it made everyone’s life simpler to give me that ‘call-sign’. I use ‘Botswana Dave’ as my Profile Name on Facebook and Twitter (@IslayRangerDave), should you wish to ‘follow’ me there.

This is not an official RSPB site (go to www.rspb.org.uk for that), so I must stress that any opinions expressed here are my own. Continue reading....

Best Islay Books and Guides

Although we live in a digital era, many folk still like to read a real paper book which they can hold in their hands and read anywhere, without the need of a tablet, kindle, computer or other reading device. It's also nice to switch off every now and then and forget about all the digital stuff. And personally, when you're making the trip to Islay this year, I can't think of better reading material than a book about your favourite island. I always like to think that the more you know about a place in advance, and the better prepared you are before you go, that it will have a very positive impact on your holiday. That's why I can highly recommend purchasing a few books and guides about Islay. Both to read before you leave for Islay and to read when you are on Islay. Of course you can always read the tons of information we have online on our various websites but like I said earlier, it's just so nice to switch off at times. That's why I have picked six of the best Islay books and together they cover a lot of topics, from the fascinating history, general information, pronounciation of Gaelic words, the background of whisky distilling on Islay, a guide to walking and a book about experiences from other travellers. These will get you prepared and in the mood for your upcoming Islay holiday and keep you pleasantly occupied when the weather is bad. Here goes:

Islay: Pevensey Island Guides by Norman Newton
A small book, but loaded with gorgeous colour pictures of this beautiful Island in the Hebrides. Has a useful information and Places to visit Guide. Gives you a crash course of Place-Names and their pronunciation, so you won't be murdering the Gaelic. Includes a map, gives information of Medieval ruins, the Islay distilleries - which produces fine Single Malt Whisky. Gives you a real flavour of Islay. The book is soft sided and lightweight so it's easy to bring along. Buy here via Amazon. Continue reading...

Ardnahoe Update and Islay Festival Tasting with Jim McEwan

Whisky writer Dave Broom recently penned an article asking why anyone would want to become builders and owners of a ninth distillery on Islay? Why, not, he queried, become the first malt whisky distillers on Tiree, for example?


Artist impression Ardnahoe Distillery

After visiting the site overlooking the Sound of Islay on a bright but windy Wednesday afternoon, with no disrespect to Tiree, the logic of the decision made by Hunter-Laing to produce whisky at Ardnahoe wouldn’t be difficult to defend. After all, the whisky industry is almost as much about the visitor experience as it is about the amber nectar and the views from the site are spectacular. Continue reading....

Book Islay Boat Trips Online

If I have to name one activity on Islay that you must do when you're on Islay it's a Boat Trip. And who can better provide that for you than Gus Newman and his crew from Islay Sea Adventures. They started off a few years ago, in 2014 to be precise, offering wildlife trips from Port Ellen and Lagavulin on a relatively small scale and with only one boat, the Wavedancer. From the start the boat trips were a hit and many folk, locals and visitors alike, enjoyed many fascinating hours on Islay's surrounding seas taking in the breathtaking views and the huge variety in wildlife, from swimming red deer to otters and nearby sightings of white tailed sea eagles and sometimes hundreds of seals.

Since 2014 much has changed. As more and more folk found their way to Port Ellen Gus expanded the business and added new boats to his fleet. Starting this year Gus has four boats, two RIB's and two hard boats which are captained by experienced skippers with a wealth of knowledge of the seas round Islay. All vessels have lifejackets, life vests, lifebuoys and fire extinguishers and comply with all the safety regulations. Continue reading....

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