Today looks like a good day to visit the eastern distilleries. I decide to take the back roads, as I have no particular time to be anywhere. It's the first frost of the week, so the car needs a quick scrape and then I'm away. I take about an hour and a half to do what would take about 5 minutes on the main road. The time is pleasantly passed with absorbing the scenery and taking the odd photo. The highlights are definitely the two golden eagles I spot shortly after they've seen me and lazily flown out of photo range.

Once I get back on the main road, it's a short drive to the Bunnahabhain turnoff. The single track road winds through the hills and then pops out on the side of the Sound of Islay. The view across the Sound to the Paps of Jura is just magnificent in the warm, thin winter sunlight. The photos are unable to convey, however, quite how biting the frosty breeze is. Tempted as I am to stay in the car and document the view through the window, I continue to take every opportunity to jump out and breathe in the view. Happily, I'm in no danger of holding up the traffic. I only come across one other car on the road; stopped in a parking place with the passenger savoring the landscape through a viewfinder. Back in the car, her partner waits by the steering wheel looking Bored To Shit.

My guess that this is due to the distillery being closed turns out to be on the money, shockingly. In fact it's not just closed, it's completely dead. Still, the drive alongside the Sound alone means this isn't a wasted journey, and I don't intend to end it there. I wander between the whitewashed warehouses, catching little wafts of whisky on the breeze, down to the little jetty pointing out into Bunnahabhain Bay and bask in the scene of the northern opening of the Sound.

On the way back toward the main road, I note that the white-washed barrel which signs towards the distillery on one side, helpfully reads "Other Places" on the reverse.

I know for a fact that my next stop, Caol Ila, is closed to visitors. I still head down the road to peer at the scene, although there turns out not to be much exploring to be had. While I'm this end of the island, I stop at Port Askaig for a bite. There isn't much to the place beyond a road blasted through the hill down to the port, and an area to queue for the ferry.

Finlaggan is the ancient seat of the Lord of the Isles, historically a figure of considerable power in Scotland. The settlement was on an island in a loch, and my next destination. The island is now thankfully reachable by a wooden footbridge. Understated info panels give the lowdown on the crumbling remains of dwellings. It's a wonderfully remote and tranquil spot.

Alas, there's only so much time you can spend getting cold on a small island, and I drag myself away back to Bowmore for lunch. This time on the main road.

I've done pretty much everything I wanted to on Islay. The only part I haven't seen yet is the west end of the Rhinns, down to Portnahaven and Port Wemyss. So I do that.

Add a comment