New sign/board at Islay’s Kilchoman beach

Islay NewsLast week a very nice new sign/board popped up at the start of the track through the dunes to Kilchoman beach. A few weeks ago I wrote about a way to help keeping Islay’s beaches clean, Fiona MacGillivray has taken this idea further and written a poem about it. That poem has now been printed on a sign/board and the first one has been put up at the entrance to Kilchoman beach:

Picture of a sign with a poem encouraging people to pick up three pieces of rubbish from a beach
The sign/board with Fiona’s poem

The poem reads (for the benefit of those with a screen reader, in case they can’t read text in pictures):

Three pieces of rubbish!

Make this beach plastic free, Oh what a sight that would be!

Plastic litter on the beach is a scourge to man and beast.

It floats on in, off the sea, in a relentless tide of mans debris.

Piled high we throw up our hands & cry How can we just let this lie?

But with visitors and walkers each day we reduce it day by day.

Pick up three pieces of rubbish each and this beach will be a peach.

There is a bin that sits just here pop it in and you can cheer

Then this beach will just be Sand and sea and clutter free!

© Fiona MacGillivray

As it says in the poem, there is a convenient bin right here:

Picture of a sign encouraging visitors to pick up rubbish on a beach with a bin behind it
The bin right behind the sign

I understand there are plans to put up signs at other beaches on Islay as well. Hopefully they will encourage more people to help with keeping Islay’s beaches clean, so that we can all enjoy pristine beaches (of course it would be even better to avoid the plastic rubbish in the first place, but that’s another topic).

 

Getting ready for the Islay Sessions 2018

Islay MusicStill two weeks to go until the Islay Sessions 2018 music festival, but as I will be leaving a bit earlier for Islay than in previous years I decided to get this post in now. If you’re on Islay 23-25/Nov/2018, as of writing this there were still some tickets available, although not for all events.

Islay Sessions 2018 poster

Looking forward to seeing Gráinne Brady again (having seen her at several Islay Sessions over the years), this time launching her solo album (I believe that session is sold out now).

One ‘new’ (as in new for me) artist I’m very much looking forward to is Brighde Chaimbeul. I had heard of her through Hamish Napier (who I had seen at another Islay Session a number of years ago). Here’s a taster of her playing together with Innes White (who will also play with her on Islay):

That’s all I’ve got for now. Hope to see you at the Islay Sessions or if not elsewhere on Islay in the two weeks leading up to them.

Flying Edinburgh (EDI) to Islay International Airport (ILY)

Islay NewsSome good news for Islay visitors planning to arrive by plane. So far most scheduled flights to Islay (i.e. not the Colonsay/Oban route) were from Glasgow Airport (GLA) only. That’s about to change: From March 2019 travellers will also be able to fly to Islay International Airport (ILY) from Edinburgh Airport (EDI). From the Loganair press release:

Picture of an incoming plane over a bay with a beach
A plane coming in to land at Islay International Airport (ILY)

A 34-seat Saab 340 will fly the Edinburgh to Islay route – the capital city’s first ever scheduled air link to the Inner Hebrides. The service will commence on 25 March and will operate up to daily, offering new links from Edinburgh to the “Queen of the Hebrides”, which is experiencing significant growth in tourism and business following the opening of new hotels and growth in the golfing and spirits distillery sectors.

I think this should open up some new routes and opportunities in particular for visitors from further afield, I believe from some countries there are no direct flights to Glasgow, but there are to Edinburgh.

Tonight’s Islay dram: Port Charlotte cask exploration Gorag 02

Islay Whisky News & LinksLast night on Twitter Bruichladdich asked what our Friday night dram was. My honest answer was that it was their southern competitor Laphroaig with their 10yo cask strength batch 010. And that if I was good on Saturday and got stuff done I would reward myself with one of my Bruichladdich Port Charlotte valinches. Well, I did get a sufficient amount done, so I picked this one from my shelf:

Picture of a bottle and a dram of the Port Charlotte cask exploration Gorag 02
A lovely Islay dram, the Port Charlotte cask exploration Gorag 02

This is bottle #267 of 360 of the Port Charlotte cask exploration o2, Gorag. Aged 11 years in a Pessac-Leognan cask (I must admit, I have no idea what that means apart from that it is a wine cask. But it tastes wonderful).

Video from a walk to Mala Bholsa, Islay

Islay on VideoAn interesting video I managed to find recently, mostly filmed during a walk from Loch Gruinart, past Gortantaoid out to Mala Bholsa in the north west of Islay. There are also some nice views of the Eas Lathan waterfall in Doodilmore River. In addition to impressions from the walk we also get to see a few glimpses of Machir Bay and from the ferry crossing. Enjoy:

Rhinns of Islay distillery footpath funding

Islay NewsI don’t know more than what it says in the screenshot, but it looks like after the Southern Islay distillery footpath we will soon see a Rhinns of Islay equivalent between Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich. Many thanks to Ross Coutts for spotting and sharing:

Beachcombing/walking on Islay with a twist

Islay NewsWe all would like our beaches pristine and clean. Sadly modern reality gets into the way more and more often. Plastic and other rubbish everywhere, destroying the beauty of the nature we so enjoy. So why don’t we all contribute a bit to help keeping the beaches clean? Apart from avoiding littering as much as possible we can all do our bit to help to keep the beaches clean. It’s not my idea, I read about it somewhere else:

From every beach walk aim to bring back at least three pieces of plastic (or other rubbish, e.g. bottles) and dispose of it responsibly.

During my last visit to Islay in June I decided to do my bit. When staying at Kilchoman during the second week of my stay I went for a walk on Kilchoman Beach in Machir Bay every morning. During the last return leg (I typically walked up and down the beach twice) I picked up as much as I could carry, often helped by a bucket or something similar I found to allow me to collect and carry it.

Quite a few of the findings almost certainly travelled all the way across the North Channel, as they clearly came from Ireland. There was a plastic milk bottle from Donegal Creameries and a Tayto crisp bag. And a few items with Euro pricing. But also various other plastic and other items, like a pen and tennis ball. Not to forget a few bottles (both glass and plastic).

I know a number of others are picking up plastic on their beach walks. Also while I was doing it I got chatting with a couple on their beach walk and they joined as well and picked up plastic.

Will you help to keep Islay’s beaches clean?

Badlads Diving on Islay: Expedition OTRANTO 100

Islay NewsToday saw a Ceremony to remember sinking of HMS Otranto on Islay at Kilchoman, the disaster happened 100 years ago today. Earlier this year another salute to the victims of the HMS Otranto took place in the water of Machir Bay as the Badlads Diving group visited what remains of the wreck to pay their tribute. Peter was so kind to get in touch to share the link to the video of the event:

A very nice tribute I think, very well done. The group has been visiting Islay for many years, I’ve shared a number of videos by them before.

As it turns out they were on Islay at the same time as me in June, I actually took pictures of them leaving and returning to Kilchiaran Bay, where they had set up base. Unfortunately I hadn’t realised at the time that it was them, otherwise I would have gone over to have a chat. Maybe another time.

Future travel to Islay via Jura? (updated)

Islay NewsSomething that I’ve heard mentioned before seems to be back on the agenda again: Replacing the big ferries directly from the mainland to Islay with smaller ferries from the mainland to Jura, drive down Jura and then take the second ferry from Jura over the Sound of Islay to Port Askaig. In an article New plans for the future of Scotland’s ferry fleet would see more smaller vessels in the Herald we find:

Under the new proposal, Mull and Jura could play vital roles acting as these “land bridges”, slash journey times and increase service frequency to Islay and the Outer Hebrides.

[..]

Likewise, Islay passengers would get a ferry from Keills on the mainland and travel to Lagg on Jura, before crossing to Islay. One other advantage is that carbon emissions would be greatly reduced without the need for hybrid fuel ferries.

Pedersen added: “Both are much shorter than the current Kennacraig to Port Askaig/Port Ellen service on Islay and would allow up to ten daily crossings and the option of direct bus services between the islands and Glasgow.”

I’m not entirely convinced. To start with I don’t see the single track roads leading to Keills on the mainland and on Jura from Lagg to Feolin Ferry coping with all the additional traffic. They would need to be widened, strengthened and regularly maintained, which I suspect will cost many many millions and take many years if not decades to achieve (if possible at all). I suspect the residents of Craighouse won’t be too happy suddenly having a main A-road going right through their village. Similarly the residents along the Crinan Canal and Tavvallich (I assume the mainland part of the route would go along there). Complete new ferry terminals where currently no infrastructure exists at all would have to be developed and built, also the one at Feolin Ferry would need expansion. While admittedly smaller than the current large Kennacraig to Islay ferry I would think a Keills to Lagg ferry still would need to be of a reasonable size to cope with the volumes and the conditions in the Sound of Jura. The current ferry over the Sound of Islay would probably need an upgrade as well to cope with the volumes required.

That’s not to say the idea isn’t possible, I just feel it will be much more difficult than it seems at first glance. What do you think, will this happen, should this happen?

(Link via kenny swan on Twitter)

Update:

As mentioned in the intro, this idea isn’t new. What I hadn’t realised is that it goes back to the 1960 (yes, I know, strictly speaking it goes back way further than that, as the overland route via Jura was the original route to Islay before steamers etc came into play). Neil King has more on his blog in West Tarbert Pier – Part 1:

The Government was presented with two alternative proposals for Islay. [..] The other was the radically different so-called “Overland Route” which involved using Jura as a stepping stone to Islay via new, shorter car ferry routes from Keills in Argyll to Lagg in Jura and from Feolin on Jura to Port Askaig. (This had, in fact, been the original route to Islay until the development of steamship services in the second quarter of the 19th century replaced it with the route to WTP.)

[..]

In February 1968, the Government rejected the Overland Route on grounds of cost. As well as new ferries, it would have involved upgrading more than 30 miles (50km) of single track roads to Keills and on Jura at an overall cost of £3.2m. Instead, the Government preferred to spend £1.1m on a new ro-ro car ferry to operate from a new pier at Escart Bay, about a mile down the loch from WTP. This would serve Port Askaig, Colonsay and Port Ellen. Jura would be served by a new ferry across the Sound of Islay to Feolin instead of the traditional call at Craighouse en route to Port Askaig and Gigha would have its own independent ferry. This option could also be delivered much more quickly than the Overland Route and within the predicted remaining life of the Lochiel.

(update via IanM on Twitter)

Sending your holiday cards with Islay stamps?

Islay LinksHave you ever heard of Cinderella Stamps? Well, I hadn’t, until now. In a nutshell they are decorative, often collectable, stamps you can add to your mail, but as they are not issued by the Post Office you also still need regular stamps (if you want to send a letter/postcard with them on). And as I found out yesterday you can also get some Islay stamps for exactly that purpose:

You can find out more on the Islay Stamps website, where you can also order their Islay Stamps. For updates on their releases you might want to follow the @IslayStamps Twitter feed.