Islay is the most southerly of the hebridean islands and well serviced by Caledonian MacBrayne ferries from Kennacraig on the Mull of Kintyre and British Airways/Flybe by air from Glasgow. A large island, Islay offers a varied topography ranging from the wild Atlantic breakers of her west coast to the sheltered bays and skerries on her eastern seaboard. Famous for her whiskey, wildlife, scenery and warm welcome Islay weaves her magic on those who visit.
Tir nan Og is sympathetically placed in the contours of the heather covered hillside above Kilnaughton beach looking across the bay to the village of Port Ellen. The stunning views include the lighthouse at Carraig Fhada, coastal island skerries, golden sands and moorland peaks. The sheltered bay at Kilnaughton is safe and ideal for children. Beyond the lighthouse a track leads to another beautiful secluded beach at the Singing Sands and nearby the dramatic cliffs and coves of the Mull of Oa are waiting to be explored.
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How to get there
- By air
Loganair, on behalf of Flybe, run a 40 minute daily scheduled service, from Glasgow Airport GLA to Islay ILY. Monday to Friday in the morning and afternoon all year round, Sat and Sun there is single daily fight. The Summer schedule see a significant increase in frequency of flights. Please check with the airline. www.flybe.com British Airways has a codeshare agreement flights to/from London and can be booked through them at www.ba.com Flying is the quickest way and can provide spectacular views of the islands and Kintyre. For information on schedules, contact Flybe +44 (0) 13 922 685 13 or Islay Airport +44 (0)1496 302022. British Airways contact 0844 4930777, 0191 4907901, 0800 123111
- By car
From Glasgow, drive to Kennacraig Ferry Terminal, Tarbert, Argyll PA29 6YF Tel: 01880 730253
This journey should take approximately two hours fifty mins (105 miles by RAC ), or longer should you wish to take in the beautiful scenery. If you use route planning software ensure you insert “via Inveraray” Take the A82 up Loch Lomondside, turning onto the A83 at Tarbet - continue on through both Inveraray and Lochgilphead towards Tarbert on Loch Fyne. The ferry port of Kennacraig is just five miles on from Tarbert Tel: 01880 730253
- By Ferry
Caledonian MacBrayne operate the two hour crossing which runs twice daily throughout the year, once on Sundays, with additional sailings during the summer season. For details of timetables and to make bookings (advisable, particularly in the summer season) telephone any of the following (free phone ) numbers. +44 (0)8000 66 5400 (Gourock) general enquiries: +44 (0)8000 66 5000 (Gourock) bookings and reservations: alternatively the following numbers can be telephoned +44 (0)1880 730253 (Kennacraig), +44 (0)1896 840 620 or +44 (0)1496 302209 (Port Ellen). Caledonian MacBrayne’s timetable and booking are also available online at www.calmac.co.uk
- Car Hire Islay
Should you wish to fly to Islay it is simple to hire a vehicle on arrival at the airport. D&N MacKenzie have been in business on Islay since 1926. They offer a wide selection of vehicles for self-drive hire. These range from VW Polos and Golfs up to Passat estates. Tel: +44 (0)1496 302 300 www.carhireonislay.co.uk
AROUND & ABOUT
- Distillery Tours
All of Islay’s 8 distilleries are set in beautiful surroundings. The nearest to Tir nan Og is Ardbeg which has an impressive visitor centre, shop and restaurant. Further details from www.ardbeg.com.
- MacTaggart Leisure Centre
Islay’s own indoor swimming pool where many a resident has become proficient without the distraction of her chilly ocean waters!
Tel: 01496 810767
- Islay House Square.
Stables and workers buildings converted to house a number of retail outlets including the brewery at Islay Ales, Islay Quilters, Elizabeth Sykes Batiks, Blue Lupin gifts and other craft shops.
- The Museum of Islay Life
For those interested in the history of island life the museum in Port Charlotte is a must. There is also a library and archive material available to the public. The wide variety of objects and displays will appeal to both young and old alike. Further details from www.islaymuseum.org
- Islay Woolen Mill
Visit the mill just outside of Bridgend. The plaid for the films Braveheart starring Mel Gibson and Rob Roy starring Liam Neeson was made here! A large selection of items in tartans, tweeds and other woven fabrics are available for sale. Further details from www.islaywoolenmill.co.uk.
- Islay Wildlife Information Centre
Also based in Port Charlotte. Brush up on your species or learn for the first time about Islay’s varied wildlife so that you can do a bit of “spotting” while out and about. Further details from www.islaynaturalhistory.org
- Persabus Pottery
Distinctive pottery incorporating celtic designs in tableware, lamp bases, vases and jugs. Persabus also fires models of some of Islay’s distinctive buildings such as the round Church and lighthouse at Carrick Fhada.
Further details from www.persabus.co.uk
- Tormisdale Croft
On this working croft, midway between Kilherian and Portnahaven, visitors can purchase handspun garments, staghorn work, hand crafted crooks and sticks, patchwork quilts, wildlife paintings and many more handmade items.
Tel: 01496 860239
- Kichoman Distillery & Visitor Centre
Islay’s newest distillery in the grounds of Rockside Farm near the beautiful Kilchoman bay. There is a visitor centre with gift shop and café.
Further details from www.kilchomandistillery.com
Islay’s neighbouring island famous for her conical shaped “paps” and as the place George Orwell wrote 1984. Only minutes across the water from Port Askaig the ferry service runs approximately every half hour.
For sailing times call: 01496 840681
Islay’s beautiful 18 hole links course at Machrie on the Big Strand