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From Muckle Flugga To The Mull Of Galloway

General chat and talk about whisky.

Postby Iain » Mon Oct 24, 2005 5:06 pm

If you think the Glencoe Massacre stirs up strong feelings, don't bring up the Jacobite Rising (or is it Rebellion? :? ) of 1745-46!

It doesn't help that many folks have only a hazy idea of what actually happened - a bit like the Glencoe Massacre, I s'pose!
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Mon Oct 24, 2005 5:27 pm

Battle of Culloden and the young pretender Bonnie Prince Charles is it? I wouldn't be surprised if the british influence over Scotland has something to do with the scottish people's ambivalence towards their clan history. Anyway, I won't depart more from the topic. Another time and another forum maybe?

Skål!
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Oct 24, 2005 7:40 pm

"We were bought and sold for English gold...." Complicated topics; I'm going to dig out Magnusson's history of Scotland and go over it all again. The Glencoe massacre was the result of the British crown trying to tighten its grip on Scotland in general and the Highlands in particular in the wake of the first Jacobite rebellion. In the wake of Culloden, they were far more ruthless still. The Jacobites wanted to restore the Stuart line to the British throne, and they had a good case; but their endeavor was complicated by the fact that the Stuarts were Catholic.

Reminds me that I saw a restaurant at the head of Loch Duich called the Jac-O-Bite.
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Postby Iain » Mon Oct 24, 2005 8:26 pm

It's a little known fact (unless someone out there knows better!) that the last time the British Army was defeated on British soil was in a short, sharp engagement in Keith kirkyard in 1746, just before the Battle of Culloden. Funnily enough, the Royalist troops (who were driven from their posts in the old kirk itself) were Campbells, as I recall.

And in a desperate attempt to maintain a semblance of staying on-topic, I should add that the Jacobite troops came up the banks of the River Isla past the site of Strathisla Distillery to launch their surprise attack. And the old churchyard is very close to the site of Strathmill. And... err... that's it. :D
Last edited by Iain on Mon Oct 24, 2005 8:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby MGillespie » Mon Oct 24, 2005 8:28 pm

Relax, Iain...this is the one forum where we don't have to stay completely on topic...

You guys realize I'm learning more about Scottish history from this forum than I ever learned in school???

Mark
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Oct 25, 2005 1:47 am

Iain, am I mistaken in recalling that Culloden was the last battle ever fought on British soil?
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Tue Oct 25, 2005 5:20 am

Iain wrote:It's a little known fact (unless someone out there knows better!) that the last time the British Army was defeated on British soil was in a short, sharp engagement in Keith kirkyard in 1746, just before the Battle of Culloden. Funnily enough, the Royalist troops (who were driven from their posts in the old kirk itself) were Campbells, as I recall.

Hi Iain!
Your country's bloody and fascinating history coupled with whisky making, Mr T's travelouge and pictures, and my own country's early history intertwined with yours makes me very interested. So interested that I infact have decided to go there sometime in the future! I can surf and dream about Scotland on "Undiscovered Scotland for hours.

Skål!
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Postby Iain » Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:13 am

Mr T, I think most folks agree that Culloden was the last battle on British soil. Some give that distinction to the "Battle of the Braes" on Skye in 1882

(http://heritage.scotsman.com/topics.cfm ... d=40032005)

but I can't see how that that counts - there were no soldiers involved on either side, and I think it was more of a "serious civil disturbance".
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Postby Aidan » Tue Oct 25, 2005 7:15 am

Iain wrote:It's a little known fact (unless someone out there knows better!) that the last time the British Army was defeated on British soil was in a short, sharp engagement in Keith kirkyard in 1746, just before the Battle of Culloden. Funnily enough, the Royalist troops (who were driven from their posts in the old kirk itself) were Campbells, as I recall.


It's a shame that you didn't engage them for a little longer. Another 60 years would have been nice, although we'd be probably speaking french now.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Oct 25, 2005 3:59 pm

I hate to sound like one of my know-nothing countrymen, but if the French had been reliable allies, things might have been very different. And the potential repercussions are incalculable. Canada, for example, might possibly have been a very different place. To take a single isolated incident, it was a Scotsman's fluency in French that eased the downfall of Quebec in 1759. And that's ignoring how the entire situation might have been different, anyway. Suppose the independent Scots had come to the aid of the French at Quebec (a huge supposition, given what else was happening in Europe). Canada might eventually have become a virtual colony of Scotland. ...Hey, wait, that wouldn't have been much of a difference after all....
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Postby Iain » Tue Oct 25, 2005 4:43 pm

Err... are we getting a bit carried away here? :?

For example, I believe there were more Scots fighting WITH the British Army at Culloden, than were fighting in the Jacobite army.

And if Bonnie Prince Charlie had successfully overthrown King George, as he intended to do when he marched into England in pursuit of "regime change", the Scots would not have become independent. They would have remained subjects of the King of Great Britain, but he would have been a Stuart king rather than a Hanoverian!

I feel sorry for the poor old French, who seem to get the blame for everything nowadays. Why, if they hadn't sent all those soldiers and ships across the Atlantic a few years later, an independent USA might not exist today! And all those Scots settlers might not have fled to Canada with the other Empire Loyalists :wink:
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Oct 25, 2005 5:05 pm

Good points...among those Loyalists, one of my ancestors. And another was with Wolfe at Quebec. He also aided with the Acadian deportation, so we have him to thank for Cajun food. My head is spinning.... As a manager of the Red Sox once said, "If ifs and buts were candied nuts, we'd all have a hell of a Christmas."
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Oct 25, 2005 5:23 pm

Iain wrote:I feel sorry for the poor old French, who seem to get the blame for everything nowadays. Why, if they hadn't sent all those soldiers and ships across the Atlantic a few years later, an independent USA might not exist today!


I'd never thought of blaming the French for that before. I shall have to start doing so.
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Postby Aidan » Tue Oct 25, 2005 5:45 pm

Iain wrote:I feel sorry for the poor old French, who seem to get the blame for everything nowadays. Why, if they hadn't sent all those soldiers and ships across the Atlantic a few years later, an independent USA might not exist today! And all those Scots settlers might not have fled to Canada with the other Empire Loyalists :wink:


Well, in truth, I'm a Francophile. At the Ireland v France football match, both home and away, the Irish sang the Marseillaise louder than the French. They also make excellent Irish whiskey.
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Postby Iain » Tue Oct 25, 2005 6:13 pm

They also make a lot of Scotch - and own the "House of Campbell"!
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Postby Lawrence » Wed Oct 26, 2005 2:17 am

Nick said:
I'd never thought of blaming the French for that before. I shall have to start doing so.



:D ROFLMAO
Last edited by Lawrence on Wed Oct 26, 2005 3:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Oct 26, 2005 3:47 am

That was Nick, Lawrence--and it's even funnier if you've met the lad.
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Postby Lawrence » Wed Oct 26, 2005 3:49 am

Thanks..(now your post doesn't make any sense).
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Wednesday 12 October 2005

Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Oct 26, 2005 4:13 am

Over The Sea
Wednesday 12 October 2005

The day breaks gray and misty, and never improves. Breaks? More like “crumbles”. We pass through Glencoe village and make the loop around narrow Loch Leven. Our immediate goal is the Atlas Brewery in the village of Kinlochleven. We find it in a recycled industrial building, along with several other small businesses. I have read on their website that eight-pint minikegs are available for purchase, and we are fortunate to pick up the last one in stock, of their Three Sisters Ale. One for each of us!

Back at the mouth of Loch Leven, we cross the bridge and pick up the A828 southbound. About ten miles down the road, we pull over for a look at Castle Stalker, a bleak tower house on a tiny island in a shallow, muddy bay. It is immediately recognizable as Castle Aaaaaaa, from the end of Holy Grail. We find a good vantage point from which to photograph it along the side road to Port Appin.

Port Appin is the ferry port for Lismore, and the tiny village seems to serve mainly as a car park for holiday-makers on the island. We loop around the peninsula and pick up the main road again, and before too long we are in Oban. We have about an hour before we have to check in at the ferry, and I have a number of phone calls to make, so I turn the other lads loose in town, setting a time to meet back at the car.

Phone calls complete, I browse the seemingly ubiquitous Whisky Shop and a tweed shop. I arrive at the car ten minutes early, and the lads aren’t there. Of course, they are in the Oban Inn across the street, halfway through a pint. Well, if they have time for half a pint, so do I.

I’ve chosen to approach Islay on the ferry from Oban, which makes the through trip via Colonsay only on Wednesdays, for several reasons. One is that it means much less driving, while still arriving at the same time as catching the usual ferry from Kennacraig. Another is that it is a very scenic ride on a fair day, with great views of Mull and Jura along the way. This, alas, is not a fair day, and it isn’t long before we are out of sight of land altogether. After a couple hours, Colonsay advances silently from the mist. We dock at Scalasaig long enough to swap a few vehicles, before the island again recedes from sight.

The third reason for coming this way bears fruit. The lighthouse at Rubh’ a’ Mhàil, Islay’s northernmost point, blinks into view, and we enter the Sound of Islay. It’s nearly sunset, and growing quite dark at the end of a dismal day, but we can plainly see the distilleries at Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila as we drift toward Port Askaig. It’s an inspiring sight.

Image
Bunnahabhain from the pier, 2002. Just imagine it smaller and darker.

Back on land, we make the run to Bruichladdich, which takes about half an hour. We are staying at the distillery! A house, formerly a duplex which served as home for the distillery manager and the excise man, sits up behind the distillery proper, and houses students at Bruichladdich’s Academy. When the Academy is not in session, the rooms can be taken on a B&B basis. We find no one in, but a note addressed to me is stuck to the refrigerator in the kitchen, telling us which rooms to take. They don’t do it like this in Edinburgh!

We settle in quickly and drive the two miles to Port Charlotte. The Port Charlotte Hotel has a top-notch restaurant, but we are more comfortable in the pub, where we nevertheless have a top-notch meal. There are also good pints of Islay Ale, and drams, of course. The list here is all-Islay-all-the-time, and is a bit pricey, but we have no trouble satisfying our needs. I have a honeyish Douglas Laing Bruichladdich, and a Murray McDavid 1989 Bowmore bourbon cask. It’s the best Bowmore I’ve ever had, I think; but I still don’t like it much. Ron has a Laing Ardbeg, and Bob surprises us by ordering a Laphroaig Cask Strength. Bob is of Irish heritage, and has only recently delved much into the world of Scotch whisky; not long ago, he told us that he didn’t really care for the peaty ones. He therefore shocks us when he declares the Laphroaig tasty. He’s learning, that lad is.

Spike presides over all. Spike is my mascot, a replica of a Lewis chessman, a Viking berserker, acquired at the museum in Edinburgh a few years ago. Spike the Viking always presides.
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Spike in Shetland, 2005
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Oct 26, 2005 4:16 am

Lawrence wrote:Thanks..(now your post doesn't make any sense).


So what's new?
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Thursday 13 October 2005

Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Oct 28, 2005 4:36 am

Still Life
Thursday 13 October 2005

The sun! The blazing orb has not been sighted since we were atop Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. I run out before breakfast to try to capture the morning light shining on Bruichladdich’s whitewashed walls. In eight years of traveling in Scotland, I have probably had more than my fair share of sunny days, but I know enough not to expect too much. Indeed, a column of dismal weather has been sitting over the west coast for weeks, and everyone we meet today will be smiling up at the blue sky.

We arrive at Caol Ila for a 9:30 tour. We are the only three touring, which makes it easier for us to inform the guide that we must catch the 10:30 ferry for Jura. The fellow is a retired distillery employee, very cheerful and knowledgeable, and he promises to see us off in time. “Oh, it’s a great day to go to Jura!” he laughs, as if he is thinking about joining us. But he is obviously proud of his distillery, and he does like to talk–not a fault in his job–and the progress of the tour is a little slower than I would like. He catches me looking at my watch and says, “Don’t worry, you’ll be all right.” He is keen to point out that the distillery, rebuilt in the ‘70's, was designed by someone who knew the operation inside out, as a result of which the whole place can be easily run by minimal staff. It’s a modern factory, really, and not the most charming of Islay’s temples of malt, but its crowning glory is the stillhouse, with its glorious view across the Sound of Islay to the Paps of Jura. “A great day to go to Jura,” he repeats, and we are sure that he is right.

Image
Jura from the stillhouse at Caol Ila, a cloudy day in 2002


We must, alas, rush our complimentary drams of Cask Strength at the end of the tour before dashing off to the ferry at Port Askaig, which is but a few minutes away. “Come back later and we’ll have another for you,” the guide says as we get in the car, and we promise to do so.

We arrive at the pier in time, but the tiny ferry is crammed full. The ferryman promises to make a second trip, and I call Jura to let them know what’s up. They assure me that we will not be more than a few minutes late for the 11:00 tour, and they will wait for us. The trip across the Sound is short, so we are indeed aboard less than fifteen minutes later. The ferryman is friendly and chatty, perhaps in part because of the fine weather. He points up the Sound to the mountains of Mull, invisible to us yesterday, and down the Sound to Kintyre and Ireland’s Antrim coast. “Usually I’m looking the other way,” says Bob, who has made many trips to Ireland.

From the ferry landing, it’s about a ten-minute drive to Craighouse, metropolis of Jura. Despite being relatively large, the island has a human population of fewer than two hundred, the largest concentration being near the village. The 5,000 or so red deer are spread out a bit more. The distillery sits on the uphill side of the road, across from the hotel. Michael Heads, the distillery manager, gives us our tour, and he is informative and entertaining. He doesn’t mind telling us about various incidents and mishaps, such as the time the rotors in a washback broke, and foam poured out through the roof (or so he said). Like most modern distilleries, Jura is operable by a fairly small number of workers, but that small number amounts to significant fraction of the island’s workforce.

We are planning to have lunch at the Jura Hotel before returning to Islay, but, as we are enjoying our complimentary drams, we note that the ferry schedule doesn’t match up very well with our plan. Instead, we dash off (again) to catch an earlier trip, and have lunch in the Port Askaig Hotel. Ron makes another call to the airline, without result. We are hoping to sneak back to Caol Ila after lunch, but find we have just enough time to make our 3:00 tour at Kilchoman.

Our tour at Kilchoman is conducted by the distiller, who has worked at several Islay distilleries prior to his involvement with this start-up. He seems a bit distracted and disorganized at first, but warms up after a while, and we have a nice blether. Everything here is decidedly small-scale, and the intent is to do everything onsite that can be, from growing the barley to bottling the finished product. We see a floor maltings in use, and pass by the smoldering kiln. But the tiny stills have yet to be operated, thanks to a problem with the boiler (which may also have accounted for our guide’s distracted state). The place is a work in progress, with carpentry and painting going on as we watch. The gift shop and café are in full swing, and we are told that sales of cask futures have had to be cut off, so the place is as successful as it can be without having made a drop of whisky, I suppose. We buy t-shirts and Glencairn glasses, and wonder what we ought to put into the latter.

After, we drive out along Loch Gruinart to visit the chapel at Kilnave and its weather-worn cross. We get some nice photos in the warm afternoon light. As we are leaving, two white-haired ladies arrive, and one remarks on the weather, saying, "It's a good day to be alive." "And to visit the people who aren't," says Bob with a smile, gesturing toward what he is until that moment thinking is a long-disused medieval graveyard. Too late it occurs to him (as it did straightaway to Ron and me) that the ladies are here to visit a relative. He is flustered beyond words. Back in the car, we rib him mercilessly, and probably we will never let him forget his faux pas.

It’s now too late to return to Caol Ila. A trip to the ATM in Bowmore seems like a good idea, and a pint at the Harbour Inn seems even better. The sun is setting, and we walk out onto the pier between sips to see if we can capture its rosy glow bouncing off the distillery warehouse fronting on Loch Indaal. This late in the year, unfortunately, it barely swings around far enough north to shine weakly on the wall, before dipping behind the Rhinns. In the summer, it must be quite lovely.

We stop at the Bridgend Hotel, near the head of the loch, for another pint, and consider having dinner there. We opt instead for the Port Charlotte again; we are quite comfortable there. However, the softly-playing music in the bar is a CD that has been repeating since yesterday–we’ve heard it at least four times. “I really love Coolfin,” I tell the bartender, “but do you think we might have something else?” After dinner, I try a couple of Bruichladdich’s special bottlings–a fruity Sinnsear, from a bourbon cask, which I quite like; and a sherried Cairdean, which is okay, but not as good in my mind. We are pretty worn out from our day, and are thinking of calling it quits, when Bob strikes up a conversation with a young fellow at the bar. He’s noticed him in a photograph on the wall, playing the pipes. His name is Fraser Shaw, and now that we are talking to him, I remember seeing him and his brother playing in the bar last year. They were damn good. “So you know your music, do you?” he says to me, having heard the exchange over Coolfin. I demur; Bob is the expert among us. They discuss a long list of musicians and bands, and Fraser inexplicably buys us a round. He tells us that he is one of six finalists for BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician 2006, all of whom will be playing at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow on 22 January. We will certainly check to see how he does. He will be playing in the bar Sunday night, but we will be gone by then.

Back at the Academy House, we are mildly dismayed to realize that we have to make an attempt at finishing our Atlas minikeg tonight. We had a pint each last night, and it’s now or never for the rest. I hadn’t cared too much for it, finding it rather yeasty, but I accept my duty, half a pint’s worth, anyway. Bob and Ron quite like the stuff and have a pint each. The rest, alas, will go down the sink. We’ll be sorry tomorrow. Again.
Last edited by Guest on Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:20 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:00 am

Anyone interested in the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician competition can find more info, including bios of Fraser Shaw and other participants, as well as lots more stuff about traditional Scottish music, at the Hands Up For Trad website:

http://www.handsupfortrad.co.uk
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Postby Aidan » Fri Oct 28, 2005 8:53 am

The Scottish solo singing champion works in Bowmore. She treated us to a few songs, and she was superb. I'm embarrassed that I don't remember her name, but she was a lovely lady.

An amateur could injure himself trying to sing this stuff.
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Fri Oct 28, 2005 3:32 pm

It's Iseabail Mactaggart she's the Communications Manager .
Fantastic voice and a lovely lass .
Slainté
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Postby Lawrence » Fri Oct 28, 2005 3:35 pm

Excellent post Tattiheid, it's what it must have been like waiting for the next installment of the latest Sherlock Holmes mystery in the Strand Magazine way back when.

I eagerly await the next installment.
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Postby Aidan » Fri Oct 28, 2005 3:41 pm

Spirit of Islay wrote:It's Iseabail Mactaggart she's the Communications Manager .
Fantastic voice and a lovely lass .
Slainté
Gordon


Thanks Gordon. That's her. I am an idiot when it comes to remembering names. Very nice lady.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Oct 29, 2005 1:04 am

I remember seeing her photo in Whisky Mag in a news item about Bowmore, and the same photo in the Ileach when she won her category at the Mod. If I could be sure to catch her singing, I might be willing to take the tour.
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Friday 14 October 2005

Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Oct 29, 2005 6:24 am

Lords Of The Isles
Friday 14 October 2005

We are at breakfast in the Academy House when the phone rings. Mary, the housekeeper, answers it, and then hands it to Ron. His bag is at the Islay airport! Ron has borne the luggage saga with his usual good humor, but he is glad to see it come to an end, and so are we. I don’t know for a fact that he has been wearing the same pair of boxer shorts for the past six days, but there is no evidence to the contrary. We will be passing the airport later, so we decide to pick it up, rather than have it delivered.

We don’t, however, have time to stop there on our way to Laphroaig, where we are booked for a 10:15 tour. There are sixteen people touring, which really seems too many, but the guide, a seasonal employee named Emma, handles it well. She is well trained and knows her stuff, and it does not bother us in the least that she is young and pretty, as well. Unfortunately, the tour started a bit late, and runs a bit slow, and we have booked the 11:30 tour at Ardbeg, so we are forced to take our leave after visiting the stillhouse and before seeing the warehouse. Emma invites us to return later for our complimentary dram.

Image
The stills at Laphroaig

I have learned a lesson the hard way, from which you may benefit. The last time I toured a good number of Islay’s distilleries, I was fortunate to be in groups of four or five for some, and to have solo tours for others. It was therefore no problem to take seven tours in three days. I realize now that one must resist the temptation to stack up too many in too short a time. All of the tours, save Bowmore’s, run about an hour, but you won’t be sorry if you leave at least two between each (plus travel time). That will give you plenty of time to savor your complimentary dram and have a blether with your guide and fellow tourists. With one or two exceptions, you’ll probably be best off to take one tour in the morning and one in the afternoon. You can thus see all nine (including Jura) in four days, or six or possibly seven in three. The only other thing is that there are other things to see and do in Islay, and you must make time if you want to do those, as well. All the more reason to make return trips, and indeed, I am surprised to realize that in eight trips to Scotland, I have been to Islay five times, and still have not seen all I want to.

Past Lagavulin we drive–can’t do it all, can we?–to Ardbeg, where our guide is another Emma. I recognize her as a long-time Ardbeg employee, compared to Laphroaig Emma, anyway. There are a dozen on this tour, including a Russian who translates for his girlfriend, and Emma does a fine job of pacing herself accordingly. We are happy not to have any time constraints for once, and we probably get more out of this tour than any so far. It’s just a dram of 10 at the end, and I’m disappointed that there are no unusual bottles for sale in the shop. There are some 17's returned from Italy, however, and Ron and I each pick up a bottle of that discontinued expression.

We have planned to have lunch in the Old Kiln Café, but we aren’t quite hungry enough for it, so we decide to go see the Kildalton Cross first. Alas, Bob needs film, so we drive back past Lagavulin and Laphroaig to Port Ellen (it isn’t far). Bob gets what he needs at the Co-op, and back past Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg we go. It’s only another four or five miles up the road, but it seems longer on the winding single-track road, and there is an unusual number of slow-moving tourists along the way–this is usually a pretty lonely road. We pass four or five other cars, all crawling as if unsure where they are. We arrive at Kildalton and are pleased to find that we have the place to ourselves, at least for a few minutes.

This is truly a special place, although it’s hard to say why. Ruined chapels like this are pretty common in Scotland, and if the medieval grave slabs in the yard are in particularly good shape, still they are not overly unusual. Perhaps it’s just the cross, carved sometime before 800AD, and, unlike its cousin at Kilnave, still in extraordinary condition. Unlike Kilnave’s stark setting near Loch Gruinart, Kildalton’s is lightly wooded, and Islay’s highest hills, oddly unnoticed from most of the places humans congregate, loom to the north. The sky has clouded over–it always seems to be cloudy when I go to Kildalton–and we do our best to photograph the place. After about ten minutes, the cars we have passed on the way start to arrive, and we depart.

Lunch at the Old Kiln is late, large, and excellent. As we are leaving Ardbeg again, Bob reminds us that we have a dram coming at Laphroaig. We pull in and take advantage of a sunny break to photograph the black-lettered warehouse on the water’s edge, and then see Emma leading a group from the warehouse to the hospitality room. “Perfect timing,” she says, and we collect our reward, a dram of the ten-year-old. Someone on the tour–in fact, the Russian we met at Ardbeg–wants to taste the Quarter Cask, but the staff are reluctant to give a second dram. Finally they give him a tiny taste. It’s odd how some places are so sparing, and others so generous; I wonder if it has to do with the number of people touring.

We drive back through Port Ellen, and then along the long road over the bog to Bowmore. On the way, we stop at the airport, and Ron is finally reunited with his luggage. There is much rejoicing. Just past Bridgend, we visit the Islay Brewery at Islay Square, a remnant of one of the island’s old estates, now a small business park. The brewery is a cottage operation, just a year and a half old, run by a couple of retired military men who were looking for something to do while they waited to collect their pensions. Their beer is not, to my taste, particularly distinctive just yet, but these gentlemen have made Islay an eminently more pleasant place to visit, in my mind. The Real Ale boom has spread to most of Scotland’s major islands now, and that’s a great thing. We purchase some souvenirs and a bottle each of beer, but no minikegs.

It’s very late in the afternoon now, and I drag the lads, semi-willing, to Finlaggan. There isn’t an awful lot to see there, but it’s one of Scotland’s most important historical sites, nonetheless. From the parking area, we walk down past the closed visitors’ center toward the loch. A duckboard causeway takes us out to a small island, on which are the ruins of the seat of the Lords of the Isles. It was Somerled who threw off the yoke of the Vikings in the Western Isles, and it was his descendants who ruled those isles from this place for three centuries. In the wind and gloaming, it’s an evocative spot.

We pull into the Ballygrant Inn for a pint. The place is empty but for us. Bob and Ron have a light dinner; I am still sated from lunch. Then it’s back to Port Charlotte, where a number of Bruichladdich folk are congregated in the back room. I try a softly-peated Moine Mhor, and revisit the Quarter Cask. The prosciuto I tasted in it the first time is no longer there, but the raw wood is. Not sure I like it, but I’d be willing to buy a bottle to find out.
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Postby Jan » Sat Oct 29, 2005 9:59 pm

Hi Mr. TattieHeid - just wanted to add my voice to the chorus thanking you for this fine travel saga :)

It really sparks my travellust - I really must save for a trip to Scotland and Islay.

I have heard that an Islay trip in particular, should be on the expensive side - what are your impression ?

Cheers
Jan
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Oct 29, 2005 11:56 pm

It's getting there that's a bit pricey--just checked BritishAirways flights ex Glasgow in mid-November, ranging from £80 to £114. Glaswegians can fly to Spain more cheaply, I think. Or a three-to-four hour drive from Glasgow, and then the ferry. Prices on the island are probably a bit high, as well, but to be honest, I don't pay much attention--I plan a holiday I think I can afford overall, then just go ahead with it, and pay the credit cards when I get back while trying not to look at the bills too closely. You will want a car on the island. I've never flown in, so I don't know how hire cars compare. I believe there is just the one agency on the island. Getting a room is kind of tricky, as there simply aren't all that many. Self-catering is probably the best choice for a group, if you're staying long enough. The rooms at the Academy House go for £35/person, which is higher than I usually like to pay, but not at all out of line. Hotels and B&B's are in the normal range, it seems to me.

I know there are lots of other folks here who have been to Islay, and I'm sure they all have good ideas about where to stay and such. In fact, I'm pretty sure there has been a thread or two on the subject.

BritishAirways:

http://www.britishairways.com

Caledonian MacBrayne (ferry):

http://www.calmac.co.uk

Islay tourist info:

http://www.isle-of-islay.com
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Postby Aidan » Sun Oct 30, 2005 1:04 am

MrTattieHeid wrote:Or a three-to-four hour drive from Glasgow, and then the ferry.


Don't want to sound pedantic, but it's only just over two hours from Glasgow to the ferry. That's what it took us. The ferry journey is almost as long, though.

The Celtic Whiskey Shop is organising trips to Islay with meals and accomodation included and it's going to cost about 400 euro from Ireland.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Oct 30, 2005 2:16 am

You're likely right about the driving time--I based my estimate on a) the CityLink bus schedule, b) our generous estimate of an hour and a half from Inveraray to the airport, times two, and c) the fact that I'm the tenth-slowest driver in the Highlands. (I was behind all of the other nine one day.) But you'll want to be at the terminal well ahead of time for check-in, and you'll want to allow extra time in case you end up behind me or one of those other guys.
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Postby Aidan » Sun Oct 30, 2005 6:29 am

I suppose the guy driving us was slightly insane. Maybe 3 hours would be a nicer pace. More chance of you arriving alive too.
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Postby Spirit of Islay » Sun Oct 30, 2005 9:47 am

I would say Kennacraig to Glasgow is 2-3 hours depending on the time of year / time travelled / how much foafing you do at LFW !
On the winter trip i can do the run from Kennacraig to Newcastle in 5 1/2 hrs .
Regarding prices Islay is no more expensive than anywhere else in the Highlands / Islands of Scotland , just remember anything brought in to Islay has to be shipped or flown so more cost . Accomodation wise again it's only what you want to pay , in the winter we splash out at the PC hotel on the 3 nights for 2 deal , but the festival / summer we go SC (£200-£300 a week) , if you go off season a lot of the SC places now let you book by the night , which we are considering for next years winter trip .
To eat out on the Island is about on par with the rest of the UK for pub meals , i'm sure Mr TH will agree the meals in the PC hotel are of a very good standard and i can tell you if you want to splash out and eat in the posh bit it's worth the extra money (about £25-30 p.p. for a 3 course meal ) , The Croft Kitchen is good as well .
We always used to go to Elgin for our November trip (The Laichmoray Hotel) until we worked out (a) it was a shorter drive to Kennacraig (b) the only extra expense was the ferry but that was covered if you buy a 6 journey ticket (3 returns) because you saved a 1/3rd on the price and we were doing 2 trips a year anyway so it worked out for us (b) Islay is much better , just such a wonderful place to be at that time of the year heck anytime of the year !!!

Slainté
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Oct 30, 2005 5:54 pm

Hey, Gordon, why are we talking this up? It's just going to be that much harder for us to find rooms next time! Damn, I'm going to have to buy a cottage. ( :idea: Hey...then I can rent it out to you lot...)
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