Nice walk to Islay’s Soldier’s Rock video

Probably one of the most popular walks on Islay, the walk out to Soldier’s Rock on the Oa. Some great views to be enjoyed, in this video enhanced by some drone footage. After leaving the Oa there are also views from the south coast around Lagavulin.

One thing I would have done different though, I wouldn’t have walked through the cows with their calves. I have a very healthy respect of cattle, in particular when with calves, and if at all possible give them a wide berth. Simple self preservation.

Visiting Islay’s (and Jura’s) lighthouses

Islay Links

There are a number of lighthouses on and around Islay and Jura. Some are fairly easy to see and visit, others require quite a lot of effort, either a long walk or a trip with a boat. uklighthousetour is on a mission to visit lighthouses around the UK and recently visited Islay and Jura. Three blog entries describe what they found:

Looks like they had a great and successful time on Islay and Jura. Links found via the Facebook page of Islay Sea-Adventures, who provided the RIB for some of the visits.

Nice trip to Islay by RIB (video)

Islay on Video

Winter has definitely arrived now, it’s cold, wet, windy and miserable today. To cheer us up here’s a video I found from a brighter nicer day, showing a day trip to Islay by RIB from Oban. Starting from Dunstaffnage they travelled to Port Ellen:

I hope you enjoyed the views from this trip, I found it quite interesting to see Port Ellen and other places from much lower down than the views usually seen from the ferry.

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.

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)