From what I’ve heard it’s been a lovely sunny day on Islay today while it’s been mostly cloudy with quite a lot of rain in West Berkshire where I am. Still, I managed to get in a 10 miles exercise walk along the Kennet and Avon Canal in 2 hours, 28 minutes and 55 seconds. As a reward I’m treating myself to an Islay and Scotland treat tonight:
One of my Islay standards, the good old trusted Laphroaig 10 yo. Together with some Scottish strawberries (from Angus if I remember correctly). What’s your treat tonight?
Islay is well known for its peat bogs and peatland, among other reasons mainly through its peaty whisky. But that’s not what this post is about, on the contrary, it’s about the preservation of the endangered peatlands. Islay is a key part in the CANN project (Collaborative Action for the Natura Network), which focuses on conserving peatlands and wetlands across Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
It’s been a while since I uploaded my last Islay video, my last uploads were actually in December 2019. High time I get into it again, editing videos (even if some of the footage is a bit older), uploading them to YouTube and sharing them with you. To get me going something simple and short, yet also beautiful with the joy and freedom it shows (at least for me, hopefully also for you), a dog enjoying a good run out on Kilchoman beach on the west coast of Islay:
The footage is actually a bit older (as mentioned above), it’s from an overcast and blustery April late afternoon / early evening in 2014 and was filmed on a mobile phone. Still, I thought it is very enjoyable and worth sharing. I hope you’ve enjoyed being out on the beach with the dog for half a minute.
Happy Easter 2021 (even if it’s a bit late). Had a nice afternoon walk in the sun in West Berkshire earlier, spotting around 30 Mute Swans in a field as well as several Red Kite along my route, which was a mixture of well known (to me) paths and a new path I hadn’t been on before. Now, about 45 minutes after sunset and with the last light of the gloaming slowly fading away, it’s time for a well deserved Islay Easter dram and some chocolate:
I picked the Bruichladdich distillery Port Charlotte MRC: 01 2010, one of my favourite Islay single malts. The “standard” Port Charlotte 10yo is one of my regular go to Islay whiskies, this one I think is the even better (and unfortunately pricier) version for special days.
For the chocolate I’m treating myself to a Lindt Lindor dark chocolate 70% minimum Easter egg with some dark chocolate truffles. While on a chocolate per ££££ basis these Easter eggs are a bit of a rip off compared to regular chocolate bars there is something strangely satisfying about breaking up a chocolate Easter egg and eating the crumbled chocolate, so it’s something I’m treating myself to once (or twice, Christmas is similar) a year.
I hope you’re having a nice Easter with whisky, chocolate and Easter walks in the sunshine. What’s your treat this Easter?
Details are still a bit sketchy, but news reach me this morning that mega popstars Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift are going to film the music video for an as yet unreleased duet on Islay. From what I understand they recorded the song (a love ballad) two years ago and have now decided to release it. Of course the song needs a video, and this is where Islay comes in…
The two superstars wanted something a bit different from the usual polished boredom of a pop video. On a Zoom call with Craig Ferguson (while now an American citizen he of course was born and grew up in Scotland) they got talking about it and Craig suggested they might want to take a look at Islay.
They seem to have taken to his suggestion and are now planning to travel to Islay once Coronavirus restrictions are lifted and they and their crews can safely visit the island and film the video.
Likely locations include Soldier’s Rock, Kilchoman beach, Sanaigmore Bay, Finlaggan, Bowmore (in particular with the Round Church in the background), but there’s also talk of an excursion to Jura for views of the Paps of Jura and the Corryvreckan whirlpool.
While I preparing my venison burger on my Fyne Venison Weekend I thought it would be nice to listen to some Islay music. Luckily the YouTube recommendation algorithm (and that I’m subscribed to him) suggested a nice video from Shane MacKinnon he uploaded today. Here he is with Donnie and Niall at the Islay Hotel in 2019:
And there’s more, as here he is with Kyle and Ciara at the Port Charlotte Hotel a little bit earlier in 2019:
On my journeys to Islay I usually stop at Fyne Ales to buy some of their beers and if available some meat. For obvious reasons that isn’t happening at the moment and hasn’t happened for a while. I’ve previously ordered some of their beers online, last week I decided to add something else, some meat.
I ordered a Venison Sizzle Box, which was dispatched and arrived this week, just in time for this weekend. The box includes steaks, burgers and sausages. Of course I also ordered some of my favourites beers, namely some Jarl, Avalanche and Easy Trail.
While most of the box went into the freezer for later consumption I kept one of each for a “Fyne Venison Weekend” this weekend. I started with the steak, which turned out very nice. Lean yet juicy, very tender. Great taste. Tomorrow I’ll have the burgers and I’ll finish on Sunday with the sausages.
In his day job he’s a taxi driver on Islay, but when he’s not behind the steering wheel Stuart is on the controls of his drone. As his job takes him all around Islay he has some opportunities to film all around island, showcasing some of the best of Islay. You can find his pictures on his Islay Drone Photography Facebook page. Not everyone is on Facebook, so luckily he’s also sharing some of his videos on YouTube. Like this one of the Laggan river:
Or this great 360° view of the Rhinns of Islay lighthouse on Orsay:
Or an Otter hunting for food on the wild shores of Islay:
The wooden walkway to Eilean Mòr at Finlaggan, the ancient seat of the Lords of the Isles on Islay, has gone through a few iterations over the decades. Because of the harsh conditions at Loch Finlaggan the wood starts to decay and the wear and tear at some point makes the walkway unsafe. Over the years there have been different walkways, this is how it looked in 2006:
In 2007 it was replaced by a new walkway built by the Army 39 Engineer Regiment after removing the old rotting walkway. Visitors soon enjoyed good access to Eilean Mòr again:
In 2008 the visitor centre also saw some significant renovation and extension, making it the valuable place to learn about Islay’s history it is today:
The walkway built in 2007 has now aged so much that it needs to be replaced to ensure continued access to the site. To do this the Finlaggan Trust needs support. The Finlaggan Trust writes:
We have already secured partial funding from a number of sources and are able to contribute a certain amount ourselves, but there remains a £30,000 shortfall in the £86,000 total nonetheless. If successful in our fundraising we hope to begin work in September/October 2021, with a five- to seven-week timescale for completion of the build, C-19 restrictions and weather conditions permitting.
If you want to support the Finlaggan Trust you can make a donation at The Finlaggan Walkway Project JustGiving campaign. As of writing this in the early days of the campaign 8% of the target have been reached, hopefully that will jump up soon and continued access to Finlaggan can be secured:
Rock climbing isn’t something I’ve heard of much on Islay, as far as I can tell there doesn’t seem to be much opportunity to do it. Nevertheless Roger Brown did just that (with a stopover on Skye for some more rock climbing) and made a video about it:
Some of it seems to be near Port Wemyss on the Rhinns of Islay, not sure where the rest was. May be on the Oa or at Sanaigmore? There are certainly some steep and impressive cliffs at both locations.
I hope you enjoyed the video, I found it very interesting (and a bit scary) to see them climbing above the waves rolling in at the steep cliffs.