Something a bit different today, not just a video with some beautiful views of Islay, but some background on what we’re seeing. Kate Gordon and Nigel Scott take us to Finlaggan and tell us about the history of the Lords of the Isles:
Nigel had contacted me a month ago about using one of my pictures for a video he was editing about Finlaggan. As it was for a non-commercial educational project I was happy to give him permission. While I was away on Islay for my second visit this year (more about that in another post) he sent me an update with the link to the video. Now that I’m back and had time to catch up with a view things I finally had a chance to watch the video and now share it with you.
I quite like it, I think it’s well made and tells the story very well. Quite a lot of information without getting too long and going into too much detail, just right. Hopefully you like the video as well and found it interesting.
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:
Assuming I read it correctly he crammed driving from Port Askaig to Bowmore, visiting Bowmore distillery, driving on to the south coast, visiting Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg, driving all the way back to Caol Ila, visiting Caol Ila and then driving back to Port Askaig into two hours. 2 hours. I estimate driving from Port Askaig to Ardbeg via Bowmore takes approx 45 minutes. Returning via the High Road should be slightly faster, may be 40 minutes. That’s a total of almost 1.5 hours. Which leaves just over half an hour for five distilleries. Or in other words about 6-7 minutes for each distillery. Where it seems he expected they just drop everything for him as soon as he arrived without any warning or preparation (otherwise he would have known that Ardbeg gets rather busy at lunchtime).
Do you turn up at Johannesburg’s busy top restaurants without a reservation and then expect them to serve you a five course menu over 15 minutes and enjoy that experience?
Here are my (personal, others might differ) suggestions on how to discover Islay: Spend a little time on preparation, plenty of websites and travel guides out there to learn about Islay. Allow yourself a few days to immerse yourself in the island, I’d say at least two full days excluding arrival and departure. Restrict yourself to may be 2-3 distilleries. That’s plenty enough. Get out of the car, walk around a bit, experience the peace and quiet directly, not through the windows of a car. Feel, view, hear and smell the wild and rugged landscape. Spend an hour or two walking along one of Islay’s beautiful beaches. Go out to one of the pubs/bars in the evening, especially if there’s live music on. Good chance you meet a distillery worker there. Visit some other places like Finlaggan or the Woollen Mill, get a feel for the rich history. And most importantly, don’t rush it, you’re on Islay time.
Rough Guides I think do it much better in their video, they take their time to really discover Islay, the multiple facets and what it is about:
Of course there are many more reasons to visit and discover Islay, but these five are already pretty good.
Do you have anything to add, any further thoughts on how to best discover Islay? Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments.
The Lagavulin 200 Legacy is set to make further contributions to the local swimming pool, cyber cafe and arts and festival organisations, as well as a new partnership with the RSPB to restore and conserve peatlands on the island.
Announcing the relaunch of the blog this morning I hinted there might be a second ‘Christmas present’ coming up. Having only finished editing it late in the evening on Christmas Evening I still had to upload it this morning. But it all worked out and I can proudly present my latest Islay video. It’s a bit different from the videos I’ve made previously. To start with it has music. Then it’s monochrome. And it’s quite fast paced. A bit of an experiment, I’m very curious to see what people think. Here it is:
In 4.5 minutes I’m taking you on a quick journey around Islay, taking in as much as possible in such a short period. Admittedly some of the selections were influenced by the availability of footage, in other areas I had to make difficult choices what to show and what to omit. Here is a list of the places you can see in chronological order:
Port Ellen buoy
Port Ellen lighthouse
Port Ellen warehouse
Port Ellen houses with passing Islay Coaches
Port Ellen Maltings
Port Ellen pier/marina and village
Laphroaig approach from loch
Laphroaig smoking pagoda
Dunyvaig castle and Lagavulin
Bowmore distillery approach from sea
Bowmore Main Street
Barnacle Geese in front of Port Charlotte
Barnacle Geese at top of Loch Indaal with Paps of Jura
Bruichladdich approach from sea
Bruichladdich over distillery
Bruichladdich spirit safe (making Port Charlotte spirit)
Past Loch Indaal lighthouse to Port Charlotte
Port Charlotte pier from above
Port Charlotte Main Street towards Port Charlotte Hotel
Loch Indaal lighthouse with breaking waves
Waves breaking over Port Charlotte pier
Saltire flying in Portnahaven
Rhinns of Islay lighthouse and fishing boat
Seal in Portnahaven
Waves breaking near Port Wemyss
Single track road towards Kilchoman
Approaching Kilchoman Church
Ruin of Kilchoman church from the air
View of Machir Bay
Beach view in Machir Bay
Otter in Machir Bay
At the wreck in Machir Bay
Above the wreck in Machir Bay
Breaking waves in Saligo Bay
Waves blown back by wind in Saligo Bay
View towards Sleeping Giant / Opera House Rocks in Saligo Bay
Saligo Bay from the air
Barnacle Geese feeding at Gruinart
Barnacle Geese lifting off at Gruinart
Barnacle Geese over the Gruinart marshes
Barnacle Geese over grazing cows
Approach to Finlaggan from the air
View of the house ruin at Finlaggan from the air
MV Hebridean Isles arriving in Port Askaig
Passing McArthur’s Head lighthouse
I still think that’s quite impressive for 4.5 minutes, also a sign of how much Islay has to offer. It might be too fast and hectic for some, but then it might be exciting and fresh for others. I’m normally not a big fan of music for videos (certainly for my videos) and prefer more natural sounds, but here it felt appropriate so I used some. To avoid any rights issues (not to mention that the lyrics I feel often don’t really fit) I didn’t use any big hit(s) known to many but used some free music offered by Google. No lyrics, so no risk of conflict there either. The style of music will probably not be to everyone’s taste, I like the speed and energy in it.
Now it’s over to you, I hope you enjoy and like the whirlwind tour of Islay. Let me know what you think.