Rhona & Hamish Scott, 53 Frederick Crescent, Port Ellen, tel +44-(0)1496 302694.
Hamish used to be a distiller at Ardbeg, so whisky-stories assured!
You have views over Lochindaal, and its right in the middle of Bowmore by the pier.
More info: http://www.islay.com/the_inns/holi_theinns_english.htm or http://theinns.co.uk/
If you want to be really central, Bowmore is your best bet, but lodging seems to be a bit thin on the ground. Port Ellen is close to Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Ardbeg, but I found it to be a rather unattractive town.
You can scare up more info at http://www.isle-of-islay.com.
If you don't stay at the Abbottsford, Port Charlotte is still a good base, unless you really want to stay in Bowmore. The Loch Indaal Hotel in PC has inexpensive rooms and a townie bar (Port Charlotte Hotel is a much nicer bar, very expensive hotel--both have real ale). Bowmore has several good pubs and restaurants.
Other things you should see or do: The Kildalton Cross, out the road past Ardbeg, is #1. Take a drive out the shore of Loch Gruinart to see migrating geese and the Kilnave chapel and cross. Go out on the Oa (Oh!) and take a walk out to the American Monument (on a clear day you can see Ireland), or down to the beach if you have time. Visit Finlaggan, the ruined seat of the Lords of the Isles. See the picturesque village of Portnahaven, and have a pint in the charmingly rustic pub there. Visit the Islay Ales Brewery, which has been open for just a year now.
The tourist info center in Bowmore can give you lots of info, including phone numbers for all the distilleries. You can see all eight in three days if you are motivated to do so. Be sure to call and make reservations for tours as soon as you can.
Here's my Laphroaig story....I had a one-on-one tour at 10:00am (it was October). At the end of the tour, they take you into the hospitality room for a dram. But Iain Henderson, the legendary distillery manager, then in his last weeks at Laphroaig, was conducting some business there. So the guide took me into Henderson's office, where I sat enjoying a 15 in his big leather chair at 11:00. I was savoring it, trying to make the moment last, when I suddenly realized that I had to rush off to catch the tour at Ardbeg. Down the hatch!
Last year I cycled from there to a tour at Laphroaig, followed by a tasting session, to a tour at Ardbeg. The cycle back to the campsite was slightly wobbly to say the least, but it is all quite near which was useful as I'm not the fittest of people.
Anyway, it's just an idea and I can appreciate it if camping's not your cup of tea, but it is well worth considering.
How are the facilities at the campground? Are there decent showers and such?
On the matter of Laggan Bay / Loch Indaal, I imagine it's like saying Machir Bay is on the Atlantic - i.e. the Bay is just a feature of the Loch. At any rate, at night you can just about make out the lights of Port Charlotte on the other side of the Loch.
I should also mention the fact that the site is situated on grassy sand dunes, so you can either get a beautifully sheltered site, or one totally exposed to the wind - it's down to what you find when you arrive.
Really hope you enjoy the trip and that the weather is great for you. Partly altruism on my part but also a little selfish as I think I'll be there about the same time. Will be on Islay for a few days from the 14th May.
If you haven't booked accomodation yet (I'm sure you have) then I can endorse the comments about the Port Charlotte Hotel. It's nice and central with the most amazing food. The bar is great too, and the staff there are so helpful - answering any questions, no matter how daft!
Also can recommend all the tours although I appreciated Laphroaig more than the others due to the care and attention that Iain put in the first time I was there. Great to see malting on site too.
It sounds like you are taking a car but if not then certainly stay somewhere central. We went for the day as foot passengers once and the taxis weren't that cheapest. Which is fair considering the petrol prices on Islay.
Thanks for your post.
We are not taking a car but have been given a good taxi/minibus contact. we put our visit back one week so will be there 19th and 20th May I am also reading Peat smoke and spirit in prep for my trip we won't get to all the distilleries but have prioritised the ones that we really want to visit.
i may even go back later in the year or may visit Speyside instead... really looking forward to my first trip to Islay though.
Jealous that you are visiting for the first time. Great experience. Can recommend a meal at the Port Charlotte Hotel - not cheap but well worth it. Only a small restaurant and they make guests a priority so if you're not staying there then I'd advise you to book soon.
The people have been fantastic whenever we've been. I know that some of your party are elderly - if they are fairly mobile then a trip to Machir Bay is awesome. Nothing between you and Canada apart from the odd seagull. Totally deserted beach on the west coast of the island. You have to walk maybe half a click from the road but worth it. Incidentaly, it's also very close to Kilchoman where they are building a new farm-scale distillery. They've got a website and are trying to attract visitors.
Really hope you enjoy it mate
I have just returned from the trip which was fantastic. We stayed in the end with Margaret and John McNeil at their B&B "Lambeth House" in Jamieson St. Bowmore..... which was absolutely FAB
As well as them I would like to thank Christine Logan at Bowmore for all the drams that she provided us with. Also have to mention the tour at Ardbeg which was conducted by Stuart Thomson Himself (the best tour that I have ever been on ) the trip to Islay was worth it just for the Ardbeg Tour.
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