A long trip.
It’s a 160 mile (258 km) drive from my house to the Calmac ferry terminal at Kennacraig and it took almost 3.5 hours – even leaving at 8am on a Sunday, when the roads are quiet. The first 70 miles is quick and easy – motorway or dual carraigeway past Glasgow to Loch Lomond. Then it slows up dramatically.
The ferry voyage to Ìle/Islay takes a few minutes under 2 hours. The MV Finlaggan is comfortable, and lunch or just a coffee is welcome after the long drive. So is the chance to relax on deck and watch the scenery go by.
I didn’t see much wildlife – just gannets diving for fish, which is spectacular of course.
The route takes you out of West Loch Tarbert, across the Sound of Jura and then into the Sound of Islay. You can see Gigha to the south and Jura to the north.
Port Asgaig/Port Askaig is on the east coast of the island and the main road from the ferry terminal leads south through Bogh Mór/Bowmore and Port Ìlein/Port Ellen to get to Lagavulin, just east of Port Ìlein/Port Ellen.
For a whisky enthusiast some of the place names as you drive past them (or the signpost for them) are like a dream come true. Bunnahabhain, Bowmore, Port Ellen, Laphroaig, Lagavulin.
My bed and breakfast is across the road from the Lagavulin distillery. A 35 minute drive from Port Asgaig/Port Askaig.
A wee footnote… in Port Ìlein/Port Ellen all the street names are in Gaelic and English – Gaelic first and in larger letters. In Port Sgioba/Port Charlotte they are in Gaelic only. It shows the strength of the heritage and culture here. It’s one reason why I’ve written the place names in both.
ⓒ iain taylor, 2017