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Day 41 Islay

After yesterday's experience we decided to get up early and go with the flow(Ebb tide), a nice 6am start. If I am honest I love an early start - the earlier the better sometimes even before it is light. It is the most wonderful time of day. We slipped our lines and made our way down Loch Craignish, it was lovely. As we entered the Sound of Jura the boat was being washed this way and that a a confluence of different tides all met, we were soon through it and heading on our way.

About 2/3rds of the way along there is a lighthouse in the middle of the Sound and there were a number people abseiling down the side of it. We have no idea if this was a tourist attraction or maintenance but I took a photo anyway.

The entrance into Port Ellen is another rock strewn passage waiting to catch the unwary. The thing was that we had travelled down with the ebb… and had arrived at low water! We had put the fenders on the starboard side so that we could swing the boat around and keep the nose pointing towards the entrance. Well it seemed like a good plan, but the harbour was so shallow there was no water for me to swing the boat around so I quickly turned off and decided to reverse in and it was a good job as I was soon to learn that yesterday a boat had run aground in the very spot I would have needed to turn.

The great thing about an early start is an early arrival, we had passed the three great distilleries on Islay Laphroaig, Lagavulen and Ardbeg, they are famously on the "Three Distilleries road. As quick as a flash I told Linda I was setting up the bikes as we were going for a ride. Knowing how Linda likes Whisky this suggestion was met with great enthusiasm, but we had been told that Ardbeg does a great lunch and that was enough.

Off we headed the two miles by the coast road somehow turned into four and was not long the coast by a miles in shore up hill and down dale. We had lunch which was served for a van in a lovely courtyard. Afterwards we went into the visitors centre where we were given some free tasting samples (The first time in Scotland, all the other distilleries saw themselves as tourist attractions and tasting was very much chargeable and only bookable miles in advance so hats off to Ardbeg). The two samples were remarkably different and it just goes to show that if you really know what you are doing you can buy some lovely whiskys but many do not suit my palate.

Then we went to Lagavulen and they too had tasting samples and again these were different but we both preferred the Ardbeg whiskey (Ardbeg is famous for being the most peated whiskey but they do one which is less peated and we both liked it). Lastly we went to Laphroaig, but they were closed. They close at 4pm for some reason so that was their loss rather than ours.

Linda did not want to cook and the best restaurant Sea Salt was fully booked for the whole time of our stay so we couldn't even book for tomorrow. Instead we went to the hotel for a decent but frankly uninspiring meal.

We arrived back at the boat after the meal to strong winds (these were forecast and was one of the reasons we pressed on). Slap slap slap, this was the sound of the waves we had to put up with all night, it seemed I had been too clever turning the boat around, it would have been better to have just come straight in.

This morning the strong winds continued and occasionally we saw a boat arrive and one tried to leave and was forced back. Later whilst we were sitting below and it was getting dark the life boat arrived towing a sailing boat. All the boats owners were up in the rain to watch the show. It turned out that they had come up from Donegal and their engine would not start so they needed a tow in. Later we had a knock on the boat from the harbour master…"I don't suppose you have a car battery charger on board", we lent them ours.

Linda is not looking forward to tomorrow when we are due to head to Ireland and enter Ballycastle. I have assured her that it will be 2-4 and smooth or slight. The winds came up very quickly and can go down just as quickly. We will see what happens in the morning…

The decision to go for a cycle ride on Friday was the best decision, we both really enjoyed it, the sun was out the winds were light and we had a great time. We must do more cycling when we get in our new home.

PS There is no photo of Laphroig from the sea as we were rock dodging at the time

  • Can you see them?
  • This is the first distillery you see
  • Lagavulen in the middle
  • Laphroaig from land



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