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.

A belated look back at the Islay walking week 2017

Islay EventsIn April I went to Islay for the Islay walking week and more. For various reasons I haven’t got round to write about the week so far, better get my act together now. As hoped it turned out a great week, even the weather largely held up.

Not having been on Islay for a year due to my heart operation I only went on three walks this time, freeing up some time for other activities. One was taking pictures of the remaining red phone boxes on Islay before they disappear. Here’s one of them at Ardbeg:

Picture of a red phone box next to a road, a distillery in the background
The red phone box at the end of the South Islay Distillery Path, Ardbeg distillery on the right

But back to the walking: As mentioned I went on to three walks, the opening walk on the Oa, the long walk out to Bholsa and the excursion to Jura. I had considered going to Colonsay and Oronsay, but having been so many times already I changed my mind and in the event the ferry was cancelled that day anyway.

Picture of walkers walking along steep cliffs on a hazy day
Walkers on the Oa in April 2017

The walk on the Oa was beautiful, the weather turned out better than expected and the Sun came out for the most important part of the walk along the steep cliffs (a very heavy rain shower arrived just as we got back to the road and were arranging transport back to the cars, couldn’t have timed it much better). While it was hazy for most of the time the views were impressive. It even cleared up for a short time and we could see over to Ireland.

Picture of walkers on a rocky shore with raised beaches on a cloudy day
Walkers on the north coast of Islay in April 2017

The walk to Bholsa in the far north of Islay was educational, as it was led by geologist and book author David Webster. He explained how the landscape had formed, where the rock formations came from and much more. Some of the rocks are of volcanic origin, were once 1,800°C hot and located in what’s Iceland today (hope I remembered that correctly).

Picture of walkers approaching a small lighthouse at a sound between two islands
Walkers approaching Carragh an t-Sruith lighthouse on Jura in April 2017

The last day took us over the Sound of Islay to Jura for a walk north along the shore. From Carragh an t-Sruith lighthouse we looked over to the construction site of the future Ardnahoe distillery. Unfortunately some quite heavy rain set in soon after we left the lighthouse after lunch, ruining some of the best photo opportunities. I’ll have to revisit this during my next visit. Luckily the rain stopped and by the time we returned to Port Askaig the Sun had come out and we could sit out in the garden for an after walk drink and look back at a great week.

On my non-walking days I was busy with a variety of other activities, including catching up with friends, visiting Bruichladdich and Laphroaig distilleries, visiting Islay Ales brewery, trying out the new Peatzeria pizzeria, walking on the beach in Machir Bay as well as Saligo Bay and birdwatching at Gruinart.

In summary, a great week! Looking forward to both my next Islay visit in June as well as the Islay walking week 2018.

New video: Beach walking on Islay

Islay on VideoJust back from Islay, a report from the walking week and what else I was up to last week will follow in the coming days. For now just a very simple video, the views when walking along Kilchoman Beach in Machir Bay on the west coast of Islay:

Yes, over 5 minutes of not much happening (well, apart from the waves rolling into Machir Bay and breaking as they approach the beach). I hope you find it enjoyable and relaxing. In a way a follow up to the Do nothing on Islay for 3 minutes post from a few years ago.

New Islay video: A Whirlwind Tour of Islay

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:

  1. Port Ellen buoy
  2. Port Ellen lighthouse
  3. Port Ellen warehouse
  4. Port Ellen houses with passing Islay Coaches
  5. Port Ellen Maltings
  6. Port Ellen pier/marina and village
  7. Laphroaig approach from loch
  8. Laphroaig smoking pagoda
  9. Laphroaig stills
  10. Dunyvaig castle and Lagavulin
  11. Lagavulin distillery
  12. Bowmore distillery approach from sea
  13. Bowmore Main Street
  14. Round Church
  15. Barnacle Geese in front of Port Charlotte
  16. Barnacle Geese at top of Loch Indaal with Paps of Jura
  17. Bruichladdich approach from sea
  18. Bruichladdich over distillery
  19. Bruichladdich spirit safe (making Port Charlotte spirit)
  20. Past Loch Indaal lighthouse to Port Charlotte
  21. Port Charlotte pier from above
  22. Port Charlotte Main Street towards Port Charlotte Hotel
  23. Loch Indaal lighthouse with breaking waves
  24. Waves breaking over Port Charlotte pier
  25. Saltire flying in Portnahaven
  26. Rhinns of Islay lighthouse and fishing boat
  27. Seal in Portnahaven
  28. Waves breaking near Port Wemyss
  29. Single track road towards Kilchoman
  30. Approaching Kilchoman Church
  31. Ruin of Kilchoman church from the air
  32. View of Machir Bay
  33. Beach view in Machir Bay
  34. Otter in Machir Bay
  35. At the wreck in Machir Bay
  36. Above the wreck in Machir Bay
  37. Breaking waves in Saligo Bay
  38. Waves blown back by wind in Saligo Bay
  39. View towards Sleeping Giant / Opera House Rocks in Saligo Bay
  40. Saligo Bay from the air
  41. Barnacle Geese feeding at Gruinart
  42. Barnacle Geese lifting off at Gruinart
  43. Barnacle Geese over the Gruinart marshes
  44. Barnacle Geese over grazing cows
  45. Approach to Finlaggan from the air
  46. View of the house ruin at Finlaggan from the air
  47. MV Hebridean Isles arriving in Port Askaig
  48. 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.