The Isle of Islay offers the visitor a peaceful and relaxing holiday with miles of beautiful beaches, magnificant bays on Islay’s Atlantic west coast, stunning views and picturesque villages like Port Charlotte, Portnahaven and Port Ellen. Pony Trekking, fresh and salt water angling, shooting and stalking are all available, while walking and cycling are ideal and practical ways to explore the island.
Islay boasts some very fine hand craft shops which are worth a visit, such as the Persabus Pottery in Port Askaig and the Islay Woollen Mill near Bridgend. Islay House Square in Bridgend, located in the centre of Islay, is home to Islay Ales, the Islay Quilters, Elizabeth Sykes Batics and several other interesting shops. The neighbouring Bridgend woodland is perfect for fine sheltered walks along the river Sorn, specially in springtime when the grounds are covered with bluebells.
There is the famous golf links at Machrie, where visitors are welcome. Below the seas surrounding Islay lie many wrecks which provide interesting dives for the experienced diver. Islay is renowned for its huge variety of birds and wildlife and is home to the RSPB at Loch Gruinart which includes a worthy visitors centre. There are many rare winged visitors to Islay including barnacle geese in the winter time, chough and corncrake.
In Bowmore, the island?s main centre, the Mactaggart Leisure Centre comprises a superb swimming pool, sauna and fitness gym open each week from Tuesday to Sunday. Adjacent is Morrisons Bowmore Distillery, one of the eight working distilleries on Islay and welcoming visitors for a tour and dram. Close to The Oystercatcher B&B are Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig Distillery. Bowmore famous Round Church stands at the top of Main Street, overlooking the village.
The historical significance of Islay cannot be over emphasised. It is from Finlaggan, the cradle of the Clan Donald, that much of Argyll was ruled by the Lords of the Isles. Here, in the ancient burial ground is the grave of Robert the Bruce?s grand-daughter, and there is a seasonal visitors? cottage on-site. Religion played a major part in Islay’s history, with many carved stones, including the Kildalton Cross.
The neighbouring Isle of Jura is one of the last wilderness areas of Europe. There is a regular ten minute ferry service from Port Askaig on Islay to Feolin. Jura has a population of around 150 people who live mainly along its east coast, and principally in the village of Craighouse. Here is situated Jura’s only hotel.