We all know the feeling of counting down the days in work until a holiday or day off arrives and since I was venturing to the beautiful, quaint Isle of Islay over Easter, the holiday couldn’t come soon enough.
If you have never been to, or never heard of, Islay then it’s the southernmost island of the Scotland’s Southern Hebrides and lies in Argyll and Bute.
Although I have been to Islay before, the thought of re-exploring the many wonders of the island, from the scenic seaside to distinctive distilleries, was just as exciting as the first visit.
Easter was the perfect time to visit with lots of things to do! Whilst we didn’t opt for this activity, I noticed lots of signs planted around the populated villages for the annual Duck Race (perfect if you have kids).
Since we (myself and better half) were with a couple who had never been to Islay before, we found ourselves doing the extra touristy things. Here’s a note of some of the activities we took part in and some recommendations from yours truly:
Photo credit: Machrie Golf Links
With its breathtaking views, a visit (or two) to the famous Machrie Golf Links Course is a must; well, you didn’t think that the boys could possible visit an island with a golf course and not squeeze in a few rounds, did you?
Photo credit: Laphroaig
A definite must-do if you go to Islay is a whisky distillery tour. This was the first time I had done so and I must admit, it was much more interesting and thought-provoking than what I had expected – bonus! Saying that, I wouldn’t recommend if you have a little hangover – lots of strong alcoholic fumes.
There are nine distilleries on Islay to choose from, so there is no reason not to try it. The locals also advised that there is now a path that connects a selection of the distilleries, meaning they are even more accessible at just one mile apart.
Photo credit: Visit Scotland
Port Charlotte is the area of the island we stay in each time we visit the island (family holiday home) meaning that the Port Charlotte Hotel is more or less our local — a dinky little pub which plays live music and a busy restaurant that serves an appealing selection of local produce and special dishes. Nom, nom, nom – it truly is delicious! Don’t get me wrong, there is a price tag to match but it is definitely worth the visit, and the views from this part of the island are truly stunning, with lots of rugged seaside views – it’s bliss!
Islay is the ideal place to unwind. It’s a place where you can switch off your mobile phone and not worry about anything, except how the weather may affect what you have planned for that day.
For me, one way of the best ways to de-stress is by running… I practiced for my first 10K on the island and boy was it a hard trek! So I’m not suggesting that you go full speed and opt for a 10K run but even opting for a brisk walk in the fresh air, which seems a hell of a lot purer than that of the ‘mainland’, really does make the experience an enjoyable one!
If you are planning a trip to the island, I would definitely advise taking a car to make getting around a lot easier. There are a number of traditional shops to enjoy along with art galleries that sell coffee, cake, clothing and jewellery – Sarah Brown Jewellery is a fantastic local jewellery designer to the island and her individual pieces are inspired by the natural elements of the island that you wouldn’t find elsewhere.
Have you every ventured to Islay? I’d love to hear more about your experience….