Islay walking, whisky and wild camping

Thursday, 10. 2. 2008  –  Category: Outdoors

So, part 2 of the Scotland walking and camping trip as planned.

From Lochranza, Arran we took the ferry over to Claonaig, bus to Kennacraig, and a second ferry to Port Ellen, Islay, home of Smokey single malt whisky!

The night before on our beach-side camp, I had done serious damage to a rare bottle of Linkwood, and in return the Linkwood had left me with the mother of hangovers.

Arriving into Port Ellen, we needed to finalise our route, so headed to the Ardview pub to get our plan together.

Prior to setting off on our trip, I’d emailed Armin, who writes at, for some advice on routes. Armin provided some great advice, and we had fancied taking a route from Port Ellen round the coast to Port Askaig. Given some of the difficulties we’d had in our first couple of days in Arran, we decided that we’d be hard pushed to complete that route in time without some serious hard work. A couple of beers later, we decided to head into the Oa, following the coastal path from Port Ellen.

Port Ellen from the hill

Heading away from Port Ellen

It wasn’t much more than about an hour or two before we were losing track of the path and to make matters worse the midges were out and biting. Coupled with the beating sun (usually a welcome surprise), and the lingering hangover, and the afternoon marching on into evening whether we liked it or not, we were becoming more keen to find somewhere to set up camp.

That’s when we found this beach…

Islay beach

….at the foot of a waterfall.

Islay beach

Unsure whether it was doable, a few of the lads went down to check it out. Result. Plenty of space for camping above the tide line, plenty of potential firewood to keep us entertained also.


Set up camp, and started on the fire. Baked potatoes and rib-eye steak on the menu, courtesy of Port Ellen’s butcher and the grilliput.

Camp fire and waterfall on Islay beach

Great times.

We woke the next day to light drizzle and some menacing clouds. Headed back into Port Ellen to re-stock on supplies, and headed East past the distilleries of Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg, where we headed inland towards Loch Uigeadail (I think).

Lagavulin distillery

There was fairly consistent rain by now and it got heavier throughout the night. By morning it was torrential. We headed back to the road and headed into the Ardbeg distillery for shelter, tucked into some hot food and dried out for a couple of hours. We had a booking at Laphroaig that afternoon too, where we enjoyed plenty of free drams, did a really interesting tour of the distillery and became land owners via the Friends of Laphroaig scheme.

Really have to give Laphroaig some serious credit. The people there were exceptionally hospitable. Our trip had come to an end, we must have been stinking – 5 men, 5 days without showering, sleeping in tents, walking all day – and no complaints. They kept on pouring the whisky for us, and even drove us to the airport for our flight when they couldn’t get a taxi arranged for us.

Great way to end the trip.

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7 Responses to “Islay walking, whisky and wild camping”

  1. Armin Says:

    Glad that you had a good time on Islay, looks like going to The Oa was exactly the right decision considering the weather later. Walking and distilleries, looks like a great combination to me ;-)

    Beautiful pictures as well!

  2. Goat Fell & Isle of Arran coastal path | Hitting Kickers Says:

    [...] Next up: camping and walking in Islay [...]

  3. Adam Says:

    Thanks for the comment Armin, and of course thanks again for the help and information about walks on Islay.

  4. Philip Says:

    Damn I’m very jealous – it’s been on my list of things to do for ages: whisky distillery your of Islay. Thanks for the insight and the link to the Islay blog – most useful.

  5. Adam Says:

    Hi Philip, thanks for the comment. It was a great trip indeed!

    Hope all is going well at Webtogs. I somehow stumbled upon your blog a while bag and subscribed to the feed, shortly before you fully launched the ecommerce site I think. Interesting stuff – like the mix of talk about the business, the internet and the outdoors!

  6. Jean B. in SC Says:

    I have a blog called “Picture Camping” where part of what I do is review others’ blog posts about camping. May I quote you, publish a picture or two, and send my readers your way? Of course I’ll give you credit for your writing and photos.

    Thanks for considering this,

    Jean B. in SC (USA)

  7. Adam Says:

    Hey Jean, by all means please do!


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