Wild and Magic Islay is an independent travel and events company based on Islay, and run by Rachel MacNeill. It opened in March 2011, having itâ€™s official launch in the Wild and Magic Islay Tipi on show day. Wild and Magic Islay is a environmentally friendly business, promoting eco tourism and dedicated to keeping things local.
Many people and businesses are involved with Wild and Magic Islay. We use milk from Eskinsh in our homemade scones, cut peat with Hughie at Grianan, buy bread from Denise in Jura, use the Ileach printing services whenever we can and donate to the Round Church when we show visitors around. We take people to Finlaggan, the Woollen Mill, and the distilleries. We take them to beaches, to the woods, to the hills ~ all over the place! We make picnics for them, book them into lovely accommodation, and give them advice on how to get here from all over the world! At the moment, Wild and Magic Islay comprises five different sections. We have Holiday Tours, Peat Cutting Workshops, Wild and Magic Islay Apparel, Day Trips and Tipi Hire.
We offer tours of the distilleries, tours of Islay, tours of Gaelic and Culture. The tours last a couple of days and we book people into accommodation ~ we do mini breaks! Parts of our trips can be taken as day trips by people already on the island. We do picnics and adventures ~ they are not just for visitors, we would love to take locals somewhere different for a day out. Continue reading...
Our Wild and Magic Islay Apparel is a lovely, organic cotton, ethically traded, range of clothing ~ and modelled for us by a glamorous Islay girl!
Our weekly Peat Cutting Workshops are entertaining, educational and led by expert peat cutter himself, Mr. Hughie Currie! There is even a film on You Tube
This year we have expanded! We have an exciting new section, Whisky for Girls. The tour is called â€˜From Washbacks to Slingbacksâ€™. This tour is good for hen parties or girlie weekends. Apart from an introduction to whisky, this tour offers henna art tattooing, a personal piper!, manicures, massage and belly dancing lessons! The â€˜Girlsâ€™ on this tour must be over 18.
We are intending to have a Whisky for Girls photo shoot in the spring in Jura. We are making lovely T shirts saying Whisky for Girls across the chest, and my friend, Kate Brown, has drawn a wonderful image of a tiny bottle in a stiletto shoe as part of the logo. We hope to have these T shirts and lovely handmade Whisky for Girls silver Charm Bracelets available to buy at the Feis/Whisky Festival at the end of May.
We are also offering Dram Theatre Performances. We hope to hold these events every fortnight or so over the summer in various venues around the island. They offer an introduction to Islay Malts by bringing music, relationships, and different ways of thinking about and relating to the construction of a dram ~ Dram Architecture! I am lucky enough to have been helped in this venture by many of the distilleries giving me in depth tours and tastings so I can learn more about their whisky. The Dram Theatre Performances are introductions to whisky. They are a combination of Dram and Drama ~ thinking about the spirit of the whisky. We hope they will be new, different and exciting!
We are also very excited to be offering five new Tours and events for 2012. We are offering Spirit of the Sea Tours, where we will take visitors to a deserted island and let them explore whilst we prepare a lovely seafood BBQ picnic. We will also go seal and porpoise watching and visit secret caves. We may also be able to offer sailing trips in an Irish yacht. Another tour we hope to offer is Spirit of the Sky, where visitors will be able to fly over the island and see all the distilleries from the air (if locals come on the trip we hope to incorporate flying over their house!)
We will offer Clip Clop Trips! People can ride in a wonderful horse drawn carriage to have a lovely picnic, then be driven home in the carriage. This event will last about 2.5 hours or so. It is something different for a special occasion, or an extra wee holiday treat.
With the help of local photographers we are offering Spirit of Photography Tours. Visitors will go out in the morning to the special places the photographers like, and be shown how they capture their signature pictures. In the afternoon everyone will return to Port Mor where they can dine on Fiona and Islaâ€™s lovely food. Then, can critically assess their mornings work using the laptops provided.
We hope to be working with Islay Natural History Trust to offer Spirite of Nature Tours. The details have yet to be finalised, but we know they will be really interesting tours.
Wild and Magic Islay Tipi is going to be available for camping at the Port Mor Centre, Port Charlotte from March 2012 onwards. The Tipi can be hired for one night or for as long as required. It will have a wooden floor and a tiny stove ~ this will be Glamping! It can sleep 6 comfortably. We hope to have all the new tours and events up and running by March.
Wild and Magic Islay has a social media presence and can be found on Twitter @wildandmagic on Facebook as Wild and Magic Islay travel company and Whisky for Girls. We also run a blog at www.wildandmagicislay.posterous.com where we try to put up interesting and magical things!
Wild and Magic Islay is a lot of hard work, but it is great to be involved with so many other people and businesses on Islay (and Colonsay, and Jura!) who are enthusiastic, and enjoy making new and exciting things happen. Wild and Magic Islay is a company that aims to live up to itâ€™s name! www.wildandmagicislay.com