Difference between revisions of "Islay"
Revision as of 21:36, 5 December 2017
Despite the spelling of the name, Islay is pronounced 'Eye-la' (identical to that of the female name Isla). Locals are offended when they hear the name pronounced as it is spelled.
Everybody speaks English. Around 30% of the population speak Gaelic as their native language; the local dialect has a lot in common with the Ulster dialect of Irish.
Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac)  runs a number of vehicle ferries per day between Kennacraig (on the Kintyre peninsula, around 105 miles from Glasgow and 6 miles south of Tarbert) to Port Askaig or Port Ellen on Islay. Vehicle bookings should be made in advance as these sailings are often fully booked. The crossing takes around 2 hours to Port Askaig and 2 hours and 10 minutes to Port Ellen.
For those arriving by bus, the Kennacraig ferry terminal is served by the Citylink  926 service linking Glasgow with Campbeltown, and the West Coast Motors  448 service linking Lochgilphead and/or Tarbert with Claonaig (for Arran) and Skipness. In addition, an infrequent West Coast Motors bus, service 449 (Lochgilphead - Campbeltown), stops at the end of the causeway linking the A83 with the ferry terminal.
A small car ferry operates across the Sound of Islay between Feolin Ferry, on Jura, and Port Askaig. The ferry runs roughly hourly from 0600 to 1830 every day  (though Sundays have reduced hours). The ferry often leaves up to 15 minutes before the scheduled time, so get there early!
Flybe  operates two return flights per day (one on Sundays) from Glasgow International Airport to Islay, and Hebridean Air Services  operate two return flights a week from Oban to Islay via Colonsay.
Islay Coaches runs buses which serve the main towns and villages.
Hitchhiking is easy and relatively safe on Islay.
Remember to wave to other road users, whether it be vehicle drivers, cyclists, or pedestrians.
The cafe at Ardbeg distillery is wonderfully rustic with some great menu choices including good soups and home baking.
There is a good Indian restaurant in the centre of Bowmore.
Port Ellen has limited options in the evening - the White Hart serves bar meals and there is an Indian restaurant in the main street. The Machrie Golf Club, approx 3 miles away (near the airport) is a better option.
An Taigh Osda in Bruichladdich offers fine dining but its small dining room (it also has B&B) means that booking is essential at weekends and during the summer months.
The Port Charlotte Hotel does good bar meals and often has live music. The Port Mor Centre, on the road out of Port Charlotte towards Portnahaven, serves lunches and snacks, with a family-friendly play area outside.
The Ballygrant Inn does good home baking and evening meals.
The Port Askaig Hotel is a pleasant pub which does average bar meals.
An Tigh Seinnse in Portnahaven serves food every day unless otherwise advertised. Currently Friday through Tuesday from 12noon to 8pm, then Wednesday & Thursday 12noon to 4pm. A small but varied menu which includes snacks such as baguettes and pizzas alongside more substantial home cooked meals and local seafood. A selection of homebaking is also available all day.
With its eight distilleries - Bunnahabhain (Boo-na-HAHB-en), Bruichladdich (Brook-LADDY), Bowmore (Ba-MORE), Caol Ila (Coo-LEE-la), Ardbeg (Ard-BEG), Laphroaig (la-FROYG), Lagavulin (la-ga-VOOL-in) and Kilchoman (KIL-ho-man) - it is easy to see why Islay is probably most famous for its whisky.
The Port Charlotte Hotel is a lively venue which does meals and often has live traditional music on Wednesday and Sunday evenings from 8:30pm onward. There is a beer garden at the back. Even if you are not a whisky drinker, ask to see their whisky menu - a remarkable list of different bottling from the island's distilleries. If you want to try - beware, as some of the rarer ones are as much as £50 a dram!
In Port Ellen, the White Hart Hotel has a bar and pool table - you can also take your drinks outside to the grassy area across the road.
The Islay Ale Brewery opened in 2004.
The Port Askaig Hotel is one of the island's oldest inns and has picnic tables at the front.
An Tigh Seinnse, 11 Queen Street, Portnahaven PA47 7SJ, ☎ An Tigh Seinnse. Cosy bar and restaurant serving local food. Child friendly, although the terms of the premises licence mean that any children under the age of 16 are not allowed on the premises after 9pm. Dogs are not allowed inside although there are seats outside (for the better weather!) and staff are usually happy to provide a bowl of water and a biscuit for your dog.
The Islay Hotel in Port Ellen is recently reopened and offers 13 newly refurbished bedrooms.
Islay is a pretty safe place and any crime here is likely to be big news.
The Isle of Jura is a five-minute ferry journey from Port Askaig. Note that the ferry terminal on Jura is 8 miles from the main village and that public transport only meets certain ferries. They depart roughly once an hour, the timetable is printed at the ferry terminal. Note that the ferry ramp on the Jura side is very steep (and varying with the tide!) so it's not suitable for low riding vehicles. Worth the trip over though and can be done for a morning or afternoon trip.
CalMac ferries run to the Isle of Colonsay on a Wednesday (summer only) and this is an enjoyable day trip.