Isle of Islay

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July 17th 2006
Published: July 20th 2006
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Weather Report

Started sunny with clouds building. Eventually an overcast day. Generally warm although felt cool on the deck of the moving ferry.

On the go shortly after 5.30. Surprised to find I was not the first in the shower block. Fell into conversation with a retired Glaswegian (that is a Glaswegian who has retired not someone who has retired from Glasgow !!!!!). This was to prove useful.

Packed and decamped by 7.20. Struggling along the road towards ferry terminal I crossed the path of said Glaswegian heading back to the campsite. We fell into conversation once more and he offered to carry my two small bags which was very kind as he had just walked from the terminal. Anyway we continued to the ferry where I gratefully bade him farewell.

Ferry was quite small and seemed quite full with a dozen or so vehicles. Journey was pleasant enough - lasting some thirty minutes - although the light was not good for photography. Hazy and low cloud. Arrived at Claonaig at 8.45 with the bus already approaching. Climbed on - just myself and a friendly local who turned out to be a shepherd. Interesting conversation as we crossed Kintyre to the ferry terminal at Kennacraig.

Bus dropped me in the terminal so a short walk to purchase tickets (plural because saved money by buying tickets for three islands on my itinerary beyond Islay) and board ship. Much larger vessel with two or three lounges, café, bar and shop. Had mushroom and toast and coffee which was reasonably priced and good quality. Fell into conversation with retired couple who were on a day trip to buy a property in Islay. Occasionally wandered onto deck although light remained poor.

Arrived at Port Ellen shortly after midday. No fanfare. No welcome. No tourist information. Supposed to be a visitor info centre in PE but that had disappeared. Eventually decided to catch the bus to Bowmore (the ‘capital’). Stood at bus stop with another couple and a young family discussing the merits (or otherwise) of the tourist service. Bus due at 1345. None appeared. About 1.40 the post office delivery van stopped and proclaimed that he was also a bus (this is quite common in rural parts of the UK). Anyway we set off and arrived some 15/20 mins later at Bowmore.

I found the TIC (tourist info centre) and was guided to a place to pitch my tent. This is known as ‘wild camping’ - in some parts of the B Isles who can effectively camp anywhere as long as you ask the landowner’s permission. Not necessary in this case because the foreshore is publicly owned so I ambled along the indicated path and found a reasonable location on a cliff top overlooking the sea. There is another tent about 100 yards away and the shops in Bowmore are no more than ten minutes walk. Hopefully this will all work out !!!!

Tomorrow is promised to be warm and sunny - I hope so because I have invested in a car hire for the day !


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