Isle of Islay Trip September 2020

A highly successful trip all within the current Covid Regulations, to show that such activities can be workable in these unusual times.                                                                     Just as a general note, the restrictions were easy to follow given the type of accommodation and our varied activities. Islay is an island that has had no Covid case as at the date we attended and everyone felt safe.

The ferry timings made this a two day journey to get to the Island, braving the Rest and be Thankful Pass which a short while earlier had been blocked due to landslides, and on the way back we had to go down the old Military road, all very interesting.

The weather was kind, not too windy and was far better than the trip to Mull last year. There was minimal rain and a good smattering of sunshine. Our cottages were at the most northern end of the island down a single track.

Our days were varied with a number of activities taking place every day. These broadly fell into several broad categories, including cycling, bird watching, walking and some mountain walking.

The feature about Islay is that it is a small island, there are limited roads and destinations so it was inevitable even with our varied activities then we would occasionally see the other groups at some time during the day. On the whole, paths are not common which means that walking anywhere takes far longer than usual. Walking guides often give an example of relatively short distances with a timing that seems overly long. However they are not wrong as the terrain is such that it does not make for quick journeys.

A nice thing about the island is that everyone greets you when they travel by car all with a wave, which is good. The only ones who seem not too are the tourists! Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here.

It will be for those who cycled and were bird watching to write their narrative about their activities as I can only speak from the experience of the walks. There were numerus possible walks from the cottages which were on tracks, and open moorland surrounded by sheep. The cliff top walks were great and the seascapes spectacular. Many other opportunities were available by taking a drive, and it is fair to say that we covered most of the island but having said that there is still plenty there to tackle on future trips.

Walking along headlands and on to secluded beaches down steep paths were great, and in a funny way it was disappointing to see other footprints in the sand until you realised that they were days old. The seclusion of the place must be a big positive for getting away from our more urban lives.

There are many big walks available but there is so much more to do and see. Our trip to the Paps of Jura provided a good day out, but was unsuccessful due to the timings of the ferry which severely restricted the time out on the hills. The tracks were boggy the whole way, often sinking to your knees (or deeper) and the gong was slow and hard. To tackle these properly this will need a dedicated trip to Jura and to stay on the island. Our last day was to go up the highest hill on Islay, which provided a really good day out in superb weather with fantastic views towards the Paps, the islands, Ireland and the Isle of Arran.

A very successful trip and a destination which can be recommended.

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