Loch Finlaggan, Kilchoman and Portnahaven - Edinburgh and Islay

Loch Finlaggan, Kilchoman and Portnahaven

Thursday 6th September 2007

A great mixed bag sort of a day, with no particular agenda to start with, but where we ended up packing rather a lot in. Started off with a tour of the seat of the Lord of the Isles at Loch Finlaggan, and went from there, by way of the Islay brewery and Loch Gorm, to go on a tour of the new Kilchoman distillery. We then ventured to the Western tip of the Island - Portnahaven, a really charming little fishing village. Rounded off the day with a surprisingly good curry in Bowmore, where we were also treated to a rather nice sunset over Loch Indaal.

Edinburgh and Islay

John's Pictures
Maison de Stuff

10:24:45 So here we are setting out to see Loch Finlaggan. Chie is looking full of beans!10:27:13 It was quite marshy here...10:28:56 ...there's a sort of causeway which leads through the marshes to the island in the centre.

10:29:17 I rather liked these reeds (or whatever they were).10:29:40 ...it was a bit rickety in places, which made the crossing all the more fun.10:31:37 On the island now, and I took a picture of a few of the signs in an attempt to remember some of the history surrounding this very important site.

10:34:04 One of the ruined buildings, this one housed several gravestones.10:34:58 ....bit hard to see these under the glass on such a damp day.10:35:14 ....but luckily there was a scraper to hand, which Chie eagerly picked up.

10:35:36 ...a bit hard to see again, but this carving of a soldier is quite famous I think.10:35:53 Close-up on his head.10:36:06 The setting once again.

10:37:12 So apparently we're going to be looking at the chapel now...10:39:04 There it is..10:39:57

10:40:21 10:40:41 10:40:54

10:41:52 10:42:31 There's also a second island here, the council island, and presumably it was here where the Lords of the Isles were crowned.10:42:38 The Council Isle...

10:44:06 ...and again with, wait, is that some blue sky poking through there?10:44:31 ...and again, obviously I was trying (and failing) to find the right composition here.10:44:40 ...still trying!

10:45:06 A few last shots of the island on an island.10:45:20 Me, with the Council Isle behind me.10:46:28 This little bush was growing out of a tiny little island all of its own.

10:53:29 Chie and the marshes...10:59:31 Looking back to Loch Finlaggan as we returned to the car park.11:00:47 ...and en route we were greeted by some sheep.

11:01:59 Chie having a go at shepherding.11:41:18 After leaving Loch Finlaggan we pottered along and stopped off here at the Islay Woolen Mill.11:41:37 Chie on the bridge.

11:41:44 Some very peaty looking water running over the rocks here.12:16:59 We also stopped off at the Islay Brewery.12:17:13 Here's me outside.

12:17:47 Nice sign here.12:39:13 Yet another stop off, on the shores of Loch Indaal, as the weather seemed to be taking a definite turn for the better!12:39:24 You could actually be mistaken for thinking it was late summer here!

12:39:40 The improvement in weather was really quick - it got visibly better just in the short time we spent on this beach.12:40:49 OK, well still a bit of a grey cloud over there.12:41:20 Me and Chie.

12:41:51 Even the sea water looks peaty!12:42:05 Lovely blue sky here.12:58:52 Our next stopping off point, en route to the Kilchoman distillery, was Loch Gorm - I think this is the biggest freshwater Loch on the island, so I wanted to take a look.

12:59:00 Hmmmm, looking a bit dim again.12:59:12 ...it wasn't actually very easy to get close to Loch Gorm, as it turned out.13:04:07 ...we ummed and arred about taking the car down this little track, but in the end thought better of it, so walked instead.

13:11:48 ...although apparently the track, up to this point at least, was actually a public road!13:12:55 More of Loch Gorm.13:13:00 ...and more of the same..

13:13:18 Quite pleased with the composition here.13:14:43 13:37:22 Right, so this was a particular highlight of the day (if not the entire week) to me - Kilchoman Distillery. It's a new distillery on Islay, established in 2005, and the first new distillery on the island for over a century.

13:37:28 Plus as hopefully you can get a feel for here, it's on a farm - and everything is done on a small scale, so it is really going back the the roots of what distilling would have been like on Islay traditionally.14:08:08 They also have a very nice cafe and visitor centre - and Chie apparently really enjoyed this Cullen Skink, a traditional Scottish soup.14:08:17 I was rather boring and had a baked potato, but that was very nice too.

14:51:47 Not sure if you can see how excited I am here in this picture, but trust me I was loving this.15:21:29 On the tour now, didn't take many pictures, but did get one of the single wash still...15:21:39 ...and spirit still. Having been on tours of all the other huge scale distilleries on Islay, it was really fantastic to see the process stripped down to the bare minimum here at Kilchoman. Apparently there output was about 1/10th of that of many of the other Islay distilleries.

15:33:26 The warehouse - the oldest spirits here were less than two years old still, and yet already the smell and ambience of the warehouse was much like any other on Islay.15:33:34 The first cask produced at Kilchoman - just in time to qaulify for being established in 2005!15:36:01 Chie rather liked the stencils here.

16:44:06 After leaving Kilchoman we were at a bit of a loss for what to do, so I basically just looked at the map, and decided we should head for one extreme corner of the island - and we were not disappointed. So this is Portnahaven.16:44:11 The weather had also turned into a rather lovely late summer's afternoon now, and so we were treated to some really lovely views of this idyllic spot.16:46:47 I couldn't help but be reminded of Cornish fishing villages here.

16:48:12 Lovely blue sea and sky.16:49:48 ...and the whole place was so amazingly tranquil. It was a little slice of heaven.16:49:57 Those little white houses seen from across the harbour.

16:50:32 Chie testing the water...16:50:50 I seemed to have real difficulty with getting straight horizons recently - the bright sun didn't help (I couldn't really see the screen on the camera).16:51:12 ....that's a bit better. I'm rather pleased with this shot.

16:52:27 ....but you couldn't really fail to take good pictures on a day like this in this fantastic setting.16:54:09 I think I'm going to run out of comments soon though!16:59:53 Honestly though, could that be any more lovely?

17:01:16 The sea looks very inviting here, although we weren't quite tempted enough to go for a paddle.17:01:58 Marvellous.17:05:07 Almost all of these pictures would make a good postcard, don't you think?

17:06:16 Yes I do appear to have a bit of a fascination with signs.17:17:41 The village even had a really great little pub (called An Tigh Seinnse) - again reminiscent of a Cornish fishing village - and so we had to stop off for a quick drink and a sit outside. 17:43:54 After the pub, we decided to follow the coast around a bit on foot, to take in some more of the wonderful scenery.

17:45:43 However I don't think I can write comments for all of these pictures...!17:45:53 17:46:20

17:48:07 17:50:15 17:51:35

17:54:33 17:54:41 There were seals over on that island, but they're probably somewhat hard to make out in this picture.17:54:58

17:55:30 18:04:28 Can you spot the seal in this picture?18:29:11 A seagull on top of the little church in Portnahaven.

19:52:16 For dinner we cheated somewhat, and went for a curry at the Taj Mahal in Bowmore - it was surprisingly good.20:45:33 After dinner we were treated to the last rays of a sunset over Loch Indaal...20:45:40

20:46:04 The sunset behind Bowmore distillery - lovely!20:46:29 20:46:55

20:47:43 20:48:38 20:49:55

20:52:06 Bowmore distillery by night.20:52:30 I think this is me on the phone...20:52:38 The building on the left here in the swimming pool - the water is heated by the distillery next door.