A Travellerspoint blog

May 2017

Going Home

sunny 18 °C
View Islay on IainT's travel map.

My ferry from Islay back to the mainland was at 15:30, and it was a great sail. Sunshine all the way for 2 hours.

MV Finlaggan at Port Askaig

MV Finlaggan at Port Askaig

From the terminal at Kennacraig I had a 10 minute drive to the next ferry, over in Tarbert (on the other side of the Kintyre Peninsula) at 18:15. The Tarbert to Portavadie trip is 25 minutes - just a short hop. More lovely sunshine, and amazing scenery on both sides of Loch Fyne.

Loch Fyne

Loch Fyne

It's another Calmac route - £10.75 one way for the wee Audi and me.

Tarbert

Tarbert

Next came a 40 minute drive to Dunoon for the 3rd ferry - to Gourock. That drive features quite a lot of single track road and spectacular scenery - it was a shame to be driving!

I drove onto the Western Ferries’ 19:30 sailing at 19:27. It's more expensive - £17.10.

A 20 minute voyage on that one. More evening sunshine and wonderful scenery.

Firth of Clyde

Firth of Clyde

The last leg was 1hour 40 minutes in the car to get home.

Who needs an expensive cruise with all these cheap ones on the doorstep?

Posted by IainT 14:02 Archived in Scotland Tagged scotland islay calmac islandlife Comments (0)

Islay, Part 3.

all seasons in one day 12 °C
View Islay on IainT's travel map.

Well if malt whisky distillery tours are not for you, or once you’ve done that, what else does the island offer?

The three main villages are Bowmore, Port Ellen and Port Charlotte. All three are very attractive places. Portnahaven is too. It’s a bit of a drive away at the end of the Port Charlotte road, but well worth it. A lovely spot.

Portnahaven Local

Portnahaven Local

I visited Finlaggan and the Kildalton Cross.

Scottish History

Scottish History

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/kildalton-cross/history/

http://www.finlaggan.org/

The weather was being a bit Scottish at the time, but I’m glad I went anyway. Finlaggan is just so historic and standing in front of the 1,300 year old cross was a bit special.

I had a good walk to Carraig Fhada - the square lighthouse - close to Port Ellen.

Square Lighthouse

Square Lighthouse

I tried for another walk over at Machir Bay, but the rain beat me back.

I can’t help much with restaurants, I’m afraid. I did try to eat at Peatzeria in Bowmore, but they were full - Sunday night surge, I suppose.

Not for Me

Not for Me

I had lunch at Seasalt in Port Ellen - good quality, good service and good value for money.

I blame my bed and breakfast owner for my poor appetite - she gave me a great breakfast. I struggled to work up an appetite for hours afterwards.

Bedroom View

Bedroom View

In fact, the B&B gets top marks all round. Lovely decor. A large comfortable room. Peace and quiet. I couldn’t fault it, and I’ve had a fair bit of experience of B&Bs over the last few years. Recommended. Thanks, Claire.

http://www.excisehouselagavulin.com/home

My hunch is I’ll come back to Islay. Certainly I have the inclination. It’s a question of finding the time.

Posted by IainT 06:49 Archived in Scotland Tagged scotland islay islandlife Comments (0)

Šljivovica, Anyone?

all seasons in one day 13 °C
View Islay on IainT's travel map.

I’ve written about getting to Islay (and I may also write about getting back) but what’s on offer on the island?

I had 48 hours there, so it was enough time to get a flavour without being long enough for a proper appreciation. It was mid May, so the days were long. On the other hand the weather was a bit... Scottish. The wind did mean my visit was midge free - another positive!

The whole Islay experience is too much for a single blog post, so this is part 1.

If you like malt whisky - of the island variety, which is very different to the likes of Speyside - it must be heaven. I do like it, but I was in the middle of one of my regular dry spells so a whiff of the angels’ share was good enough for me.

Bruichladdich

Bruichladdich

You’ll find 8 distilleries on Islay, and a ninth is being built. With a tiny bit of effort (5 minutes on a ferry and a few minutes on a bus) you could also visit the one on Jura.

Jura Ferry

Jura Ferry

Lagavulin is across the road from the bed and breakfast I stayed in. Laphroaig and Ardbeg are an easy stroll from there. Bowmore is smack in the of the town of the same name - you’ll pass it. Bruichladdich is on the road to Port Charlotte.

Lagavulin

Lagavulin

Off the beaten track, you’ll find Kilchoman. It’s worth a special mention as it’s Scotland’s second smallest distillery, and it’s very new. It started production in 2005 and is on a farm. The cow shed was converted.

Kilchoman

Kilchoman

To get there you leave the Port Charlotte road for the single track road to Machir Bay for about 5 miles. I had coffee and a scone in their cafe - a pleasant spot and excellent home baking.

Nice Spot

Nice Spot

Bunnahabhain is also hidden from view along a single track road, but on the other side of the island facing Jura.

Bunnahabhain

Bunnahabhain

The only one I didn’t see is Caol Ila, which is also away from the main roads not far from Port Askaig.

I sometimes wondered if I was “missing out” by not doing a couple of tours and sampling some of the goodies. Everyone else seemed to be getting stuck in! Well it’ll still be there next time I visit.

I also have to admit having done more than my fair share of distillery tours - Strathisla, Glenfiddich, Glen Moray and Glenfarclas on Speyside, Blair Atholl in Pitlochry, Bushmills in Northern Ireland, and even the Père Magloire Calvados distillery in Normandy.

I shouldn’t forget Keti’s dad’s home made šljivovica (plum brandy) sampled in his house near Despotovac (Serbia) during a massive thunderstorm. Long story, that... My eyesight may recover eventually.

Posted by IainT 07:15 Archived in Scotland Tagged whisky scotland islay islandlife Comments (0)

Derry

overcast 10 °C
View The North on IainT's travel map.

Day 2 of my flying visit to Ireland in April was an interesting one.

City Centre

City Centre

I took a day trip to Derry by train. I’d never been to the city before and I’d never taken a train journey in the North either.

City Walls

City Walls

It started really well. I asked the lady at the station ticket desk for my return ticket. Instead of that (£18 or so) she sold me a day Translink card for £17. It is also valid for the bus to the airport, so she saved me £3.50!

The train was very pleasant too. Modern, clean and comfortable.

Derry was fascinating. It was in the news almost every week for more than 30 years. Since 1999, it has gone back to anonymity (to those of us who live in the rest of the UK, and beyond).

Bogside

Bogside

Union Jacks in one half of town and Irish tricolours in the other give the impression of a divided city. It is historic however, and not just in recent times. It was well worth the day out!

History

History

Posted by IainT 13:26 Archived in Ireland Tagged ireland derry Comments (0)

The North

sunny 14 °C
View The North on IainT's travel map.

April’s escape was to Ireland - the North.

Ice Hockey UK and the IIHF were running the 2017 World Championship (Division 1B) tournament in Belfast, with Team GB competing with Japan, Croatia, The Netherlands, Lithuania and Estonia for a gold medal and promotion to 1A.

I was on the board of Ice Hockey UK when that decision was taken. I was curious to see how it would go. How would Belfast respond to British supporters running around the city waving British flags? Would locals (half of whom see themselves as Irish) turn up to support a British team?

So I got a ticket for the Wednesday night game (Lithuania), a night in an Ibis hotel, and a £70 return from Edinburgh with FlyBe.

City to Centre

City to Centre

The ice hockey was a bit dull. Team GB won comfortably and the crowd was sparse.

Team GB v Lithuania

Team GB v Lithuania

I did enjoy going around the Ulster Museum the afternoon before the game. It was a useful insight into local history. Recent history has played out before my eyes starting with the civil rights marches in the late 60s and finishing (I hope) with the Good Friday Agreement in 1999.

Civil Rights

Civil Rights

It was also a reminder of the high stakes involved with Brexit for Ireland. The open border and the European Convention on Human Rights are key aspects of the Good Friday Agreement.

Pizza Lunch!

Pizza Lunch!

Posted by IainT 12:38 Archived in Ireland Tagged sport ice hockey belfast Comments (0)

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