Driving on for six miles past the Ardbeg Distillery on a single lane road - something very few people seem to do - you come to a lane leading off to the right taking you a short ways to the ruins of the Kildalton parish church. Set among the graves is a magnificent ringed Celtic cross of the 8th century in a much more intact form than its more weathered cousin at Kilnave by Loch Gruineart. This is the only unbroken early Celtic Christian circle cross in Scotland. Sitting in its lovely, lonely location only adds to the mystery. The church dates to the 13th century - thus the cross was already some five hundred years old by the time the church was erected - and inside you will find some fairly well-preserved medieval grave slabs. the armored effigy is a16th century MacIan and at the other end of the church you can find the grave of one Charles MacArthur - died 1696 - whose slab presents a long gun of the period, his powder horn and dog.
- Historical Travel
Islay is a major wintering spot for huge numbers of geese who spend their summers in Greenland. Estimates of 15000 white-fronted and 40000 barnacle geese have been given. The geese come from near the end of September and stay through mid-April. They like to spend their day's out chowing in farmers' fields and flock together at night here in at the loch. The loch is about four miles long and is very shallow. You can purchase prime oysters from a producer on the southeast corner of the loch at Craigens. On the southwestern corner, you find - at Aoradh - a center run by the RSPB which will give you loads of information on all of the bird life of the loch. There is also a hide a short ways up the Kilnave road from which you can get closer to the natural aviary and add to that bird list you have been keeping.
RSPB Nature Reserve Visitor Centre open 1000-1700
- Historical Travel
A mile further west from the Kilchoman Distillery is the ruins of another parish church set amongst another graveyard with another great example of a standing Celtic cross - this one dating to the 14th or 15th century. Kilchoman was one of the residences of the Lord of the Isles though nothing remains. There are four hollows on the base of the cross’ base stone. At one corner, there is a pear-shaped stone sitting inside the hollow. Lift it and you will find a few coins in the water, sitting there for luck. Supposedly, if you turn the stone your chances of having a boy increase. You probably already have to be pregnant for this tradition to kick in, however.
There are a couple of nearby medieval grave slabs as well. The slab with the priest next to the southeast corner of the church is the traditional gravesite for Sir Lachlan Maclean.
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
If you're a whisky fan then you have to visit one. You get a tour of the distillery and usually free samples too. On Islay you can experience some of the very peaty whiskies produced on this island.
We spent the evening at a ceilidh held at Lagavulin Distillery on the Isle of Islay. What a night! For more on that adventure read the travelogue.
Lagavulin Distillery is located in Port Ellen along with the Laphroaig and Ardbeg, all along one stretch of the seafront.
Lagavulin is open year round from Mon to Fri though tours are by appointment, call 302400.
Tours to Ardbeg and Laphroaig can be arranged by calling 302244 (Ardbeg) or 302418 (Laphroaig)
Directions: Pretty much all over the place, there are 8 on Islay I believe. There's one in Oban and one in Tobermory as well.
Islay is well-known for its whisky distilleries, a major industry on the island, but only 7 are still running. These are Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Lagavulin, Laphroig, Caol Ila, and Ardbeg. Wherever I go in the world I can usually find at least one of them!
So, if you visit Islay then a guided tour around a distillery is really a must... with the advantage that at the end you get to taste some!
Website: http://www.islaywhiskysociety.comAdd to your Trip Planner
The 3 mountains known as the Paps of Jura are, surprisingly enough, on the Isle of Jura -- which is accessible from Islay via a ferry from Port Askaig on the north side of the island.
Here we can only see two of the Paps.
The oldest standing cross can be found at the ruins of the Kildalton Church. The remains of the curch as well as the other gravestones are well worth visiting.
Please visit my Kildalton travelogue when it is done!
Directions: take the road from Port Ellen past Lagavulin & Laphroaig distilleries .
This church is interesting for its graveyard rather than the church itself. It is located on a desolate hill near Machir Bay.
Unless, of course, your ferry disembarks at Port Askaig or you fly in from Glasgow on British Airways :)
There are three major remains of old churches in Islay. This is Kilnave on Loch Guinart . It's graveyard contains an old slate cross -- please see the soon-to-be travelogue for more pictures!
Address: On the west shore of Loch Guinart, Islay
Directions: Follow the road on the west side of the loch -- you will see it in the distance on the right.
- Family Travel
Inside the roundness is not as apparent as from the outside. The church stands at the head of the main street in Bowmore. The water is Loch Indaal.
Be sure to take a distillery tour. There are seven active single malt distilleries on Islay. Please see the travelogue for pictures of our tour of Laphroaig.