Welcome to Islay Weblog

Islay Weblog Brings News and Events from Islay

Welcome to Islay Weblog

Islay Weblog Brings News and Events from Islay

Welcome to Islay Weblog

Islay Weblog Brings News and Events from Islay

Loch Gruinart

Loch Gruinart

Kildalton Cross

Kildalton Cross

Islay Cloud Formations

Islay Cloud Formations

Atlantic Sunset

Beautiful Sunsets on Islay Westcoast

Port Charlotte

On the Rhinns of Islay

Loch Indaal

Loch Indaal

Atlantic West Coast

Sanaigmore Bay Saligo Bay


Isle of Jura

Islay Whisky Distilleries

Islay is famous for it's malt whisky

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Islay Outdoors Guiding Service

One thing is certain when you're holidaying on Islay, there's never a lack of activities on the island, regardless the season or weather. I must admit though that certain types of activities could do with some more attention. After Jeremy Hastings of Islay Birding left the island a couple of years ago, and with the knowledge that Becky Williamson who ran Islay Welly Walks will do too, there is a gap for a qualified outdoor guiding service. With so many folk visiting Islay there is definitely a need for someone who knows the ins and outs of the island. Someone who takes you out to the remoter parts of Islay on a walking or wildlife trip if you're unsure where to go, or someone who goes out fishing with you and explains where to do so best and what gear to use, or someone who takes you out stalking if you wish. Or perhaps when you're a photographer looking for the lesser known places on the island, a qualified guide might come in handy.

It just so happens that there is someone on the island who knows (almost) everyone and every place. That person is Donald James MacPhee, locally known as "DJ". Donald spent forty years as a Gamekeeper on Dunlossit Estate, the last twenty of those as its Head Keeper. Donald and his wife Isabel recently took over Kentraw Farmhouse after Donald's retirement, and he recently started a new venture called Islay Outdoors. Through Islay Outdoors he is now putting the knowledge he built up over the years as keeper to work on behalf of his clients to give them an unforgettable outdoor experience. DJ offers a range of outdoor activities, all of which can be found on his beautiful new website www.islayoutdoors.com

Tag: outdoors guide

Islay Malt Whisky Ferry Awarded

The MV Finlaggan, most of the time active on the Islay route, carries more bulk malt whisky than any other ferry in the UK, and, indeed, very possibly the world, according to a press release from Calmac. Islay has eight distilleries and neighbouring island Jura has one – all nine ship their hazardous cargo using CalMac ferries, most frequently MV Finlaggan. In 2014, the Finlaggan – which also provides occasional cover on the Skye to North Uist and Harris routes – carried 114,000 passengers, 40,000 cars and 6,500 commercial vehicles, spending the equivalent of more than 130 days at sea.

Today was announced that Caledonian MacBrayne’s MV Finlaggan ferry has won an International Safety Award with merit from the British Safety Council. The safety and handling considerations given to this most precious and revered of cargoes were among many criteria explored in a submission by CalMac to the British Safety Council for its annual awards.

“The safety of customers, crews and vessels across our fleet are of paramount importance at CalMac,” said Louis de Wolff, Head of Safety, Environment and Security at Caledonian MacBrayne. “MV Finlaggan has worked hard to ensure that all systems are in place to deliver robust health, safety and welfare procedures, accurate and thorough reporting and compliance with an extensive set of maritime legislation, licensing and certification requirements. Congratulations to all members of Finlaggan’s crew – it is a collaborative effort and testament to the way that the ship’s team has prioritised and focused on the health, safety and welfare of passengers, crew and the ship.”

“Everyone on board, has a safety role of some description,” continued MV Finlaggan’s Master, Guy Robertson. “All crew members feel fully involved and take great pride in their excellent record. They came together with headquarters’ Safety, Environment and Security Department staff to put together this award entry and we are proud to have achieved this result.”

Tag: calmac ferry whisky

See Islay Differently

Kayaking is a great way to see Islay from a different and very interesting angle. Especially on a quiet and sunny day it can be heavenly. Kayaking can also take you to places which are hard to get to on foot, think for instance about the southeastern part of the island with all the skerries, inlets, islands and other features. It's already difficult by boat and walking can be almost impossible. And as you don't need an engine all you hear will be the sound of the water and the wildlife, a very tempting idea isn't it? Especially as you don't need any experience!

If you want to discover Islay with a kayak you can do so with an experienced kayaker on the island. Dave Protherough runs Kayak Wild Islay, based in Port Ellen, and he specialises in providing quality trips around the coastline of Islay. Kayak Wild Islay offers a range of guided trips and taster sessions for all the family: A half day is best suited for those wishing to try Sea Kayaking for the very first time. Kayak Wild Islay will kit you out, provide a safety demonstration and introduce the basics of boat handling to allow you to explore the bay and its surrounding skerries. On their website they write: Continue reading....

News from the Islay Museum

Jenni Minto writes: Opening the Museum on Tuesday afternoons in February has proved to be a great success with around 80 people, the vast majority local, visiting. On one afternoon there was a queue of people waiting for the Museum to open its doors!

The Museum received some fantastic objects during the month to enhance its collection and illustrate how life on Islay has changed. We have the challenge of incorporating a horse’s harness and bridle crafted by the Port Charlotte saddler, Peter Campbell, as part of the display of his tools. Also, a child’s tackety boot and a “Let Glasgow Flourish” clay pipe from a Glenegedale peat moss have been donated and will fit very nicely into current displays. We received some objects two handwritten poems by the Kilchoman Bards, which will be included in a display about Islay people.

From the Coast Guard station in Port Charlotte, the Museum has inherited a map chest constructed for the MoD in 1970. When it arrived, it was painted a recognisable “Rhinns blue”, but, thanks to painstaking work by Aileen and David McLellan, it is now a warm teak colour: a perfect cabinet to display objects and store the Museum’s collection of maps.

A big thank you to everyone who made these open Tuesdays such a success: those who visited, the children who did our quizzes, those who donated objects and those who came and told stories. Throughout March, we will be improving the display space and creating some new displays. We open for the season on Monday 30 March, Monday to Friday, 10:30 to 4:30, until the end of October. We hope to see you at some point during this time.

Tag: museum port charlotte

published with kind permission of the ileach

Aurora Borealis over Islay tonight

A cracking clear moonless night after a beautiful spring day and nothing but Aurora alerts all day in my mail box. So there was only one option tonight and that was to go out and take pictures of the Northern Lights. I had the camera set-up near Loch Gorm, at the pier in Bruichladdich and near Foreland House and managed to take a few amazing shots of the Aurora Borealis. What a day!

Update: More Aurora images in our Islay Photo Blog

Aurora over Loch Gorm

Aurora from the pier at Bruichladdich

Aurora from the hill at Foreland House

Northern Lights from the pier at Bruichladdich

Tag: aurora borealis northern lights

Update on Gartbreck Distillery, the 9th Distillery on Islay

A couple of days ago, in between two wild days, I took my chances and parked the car near the tip, a mile outside Bowmore, and went for a walk to check on the Gartbreck Distillery project. The sun was out, a skylark accompanied me during the walk down, and a few Roe Deer crossed the track and fled when they noticed me. As I came closer to the farm buildings I heard Lapwings calling, a clear sign of spring, but the closer I got to the gate I realised that nothing had changed since my last visit, almost a year ago. The only "new" thing was a sign with a picture of the new Gartbreck Distillery mentioning that distilling will start end of 2015 beginning of 2016.

I decided to take a closer look behind the farm and spotted two hares sunbathing in the walled garden. As I walked around the back, seeing the fishing boats out on Loch Indaal and smelling the salty air, I realised that this is a fabulous location for a whisky distillery. You have the sea on two sides and the views over the Rhinns are amazing. Furthermore, there are a lots of birds out on the rocks and beaches at low tide and I wouldn't be surprised if I had seen otters here. continue reading....

The Geology of Islay

Ever wondered about what Islay is made of, how it got here and why it's the shape it is? A new book on the Geology of Islay has just been published which attempts to answer these questions. It also contains 12 illustrative walking excursions and is suitable for all levels of experience. Each walking excursion in the book has its own whisky recommendation; mainly one that has some connection to the geology of that walk - a sort of 'Whisky on the Rocks'.

The book will be launched at the Islay Natural History Society in Port Charlotte on Thursday 19th March at 7:30. All three authors, David Webster, Roger Anderton and Alasdair Skelton will be there and will be giving short talks on their recent research on the Islay area as well as introducing the book and signing copies. The book will be for sale at the launch and also in the bowmore bookshop plus the ferries. If you aren't on the island you can buy it online via Ringwood Publishing

Tag: geology inht talk books

One Head Teacher for Islay and Jura Schools

I think if I was a teacher with the aspiration of becoming a head teacher in a stunning part of Scotland this would probably be the dream job. If this applies to you than you'll be pleased to hear that The Keills & Small Isles Primary Schools on Islay and Jura are looking for a new headteacher. The job description mentions:

This is an exciting opportunity to lead the learning teams of two island schools for the Shared Headship of Keills Primary School, Isle of Islay, and Small Isles Primary School, Isle of Jura. Within their shared ethos both our schools retain their own uniqueness and sense of identity within their communities; whilst there is also a strong sense of partnership working between them and with the other local schools.

Both Keills and Small Isles Primary Schools have integral Pre 5 Units and their Early/First/Second Level Classes enable smooth transitions and partnership working from Pre 5 into Primary. Both settings are vibrant, creative, non-denominational establishments providing education for 3-12 year olds following the Scottish 'Curriculum for Excellence'.

For more information and to apply please visit this link

Tag: islay jura headteacher


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The Maggie

Buy The Maggie from Amazon The Maggie is one of Ealing studios lesser known comedies. It is however a 'gem' in the true sense of the word. The film has everything, humour, tragedy, pathos, romance. A wily old skipper of a Western Isles 'Puffer' and his motley crew lead all who come into contact with them a fine old time!


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Ileach Newspaper

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Cala Sith Guesthouse
Old Excise House Bed and Breakfast
40 Pier Road Bed and Breakfast Port Ellen
Port Charlotte Holidays Luxury Accommodation
Moorburn Luxury Selfcatering Cottage
StormCats Islay Catamaran and Monohull GRP Boat Builders

Easter Ellister Farmhouse Portnahaven Islay
Lagmore House Self Catering Portnahaven Islay
An Linnean Romantic Cottage Islay
Craigard Holiday Accommodation
The Monachs - Luxury Bed and Breakfast
An Taigh Osda Hotel Bruichladdich
Ballygrant Inn and Restaurant
Ballivicar Farm Self Catering Apartments and Pony Trekking
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Oystercatcher Bed and Breakfast and Ardview Apartment