Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Whisky? On Islay? Who'd have thought of that!


Having arrived in Poole at 11.00pm, we decided to keep going, making the most of the quiet night time traffic. It didn't seem long before we were heading from one diversion through another! We didn't have time for this, we were heading up to Kennacraig to meet up with Alice and Ansgar before heading over for a wee paddle up by Islay. Taking turns at driving, we carried on all night, before stopping at Dumbarton for breakfast, looking at the map, we were nearly there. The problem we now had was all the roads were getting twisty and slower. Hubby dear went belting up the road (sticking to the limit, of course), coming to a screaming halt next to Ansgar and Alice. They had their boats organised and were getting ready to trolley them over to the ferry. We grabbed our boats and started chucking kit and bags at them, with a few spare ones landing in the direction of Alice's boat. I had hoped to have had our kit sorted in Jersey, but as it was still wet we had draped it all over the car to dry. We managed onto the ferry with the worry of what had we forgotten!
It will fit in !
Once we arrived in Port Askaig, in more glorious sunshine, we undid what seemed like masses of green bags. That's a good thing, at least we had bedding! We spread our stuff everywhere as the other two sat sunning themselves. It wasn't long before I found out I had left behind my (almost) most important piece of paddling kit, no not my boat, paddles, BA, deck, but my camera!
We managed to stuff everything into our boats in some sort of order, miracles do happen!
We eventually set off, in no great hurry, who wants to battle against a strong flow in the Sound of Islay!
 After our long drive, it was good to be back in the boat. We carried on down the coast past McArthur's head lighthouse and stopped to have a wee nosy in at the bothy at Proaig.  We then made our way through the skerries before stopping for the evening in Claggain Bay. I think by now, our long drive and lack of sleep was really hitting home, the paddles were just going in automatically, cruise control!
We gathered enough sticks together for a fire, had our tea, then crashed out. Because of the tides, we weren't in a hurry to get up, thank goodness!
Next morning, back in the boats, we carried on down the coast round Ardmore point with lots of seals and our first of quite a few otters. Coming round the bottom we got our first glimpse of IRELAND (Ansgar!)

No 1


Whisky lover

2  whisky lovers

No 2
 
Along a bit, then what a surprise - a distillers - Ardmore! who'd have thought! We got out "to stretch our legs!" The place was shut! Back in the boats, another wee paddle along, then distillers No2 - Lagavulin - also shut!! Back in the boats again, Hubby dear is by now panicking! A wee bit further along again, distillers No3 - Laphroaig  - open, woohoo! We got out of the boats again, traipsed into the visitor centre looking slightly damp. The welcome we got here was wonderful. Free hot chocolate!, lovely hand cream samples!, a freeby wee nip (of course). We had booked into a tour for 10.30 the next morning. When the bloke asked where we were staying, we stated some beach somewhere, he replied with "We don't really encourage camping, but you can pitch on the sheltered flat grass (we had already spotted that site), here's some cheese and biscuits, a couple of miniatures and I'll arrange a hot shower in the mash house for you. There's plenty fresh water as well" That's much better customer service than a lot of official paid for sites.

No 3
Perfect campsite!
A wee dram! 
Following a hot shower, cheese and biccies for supper and a good night’s sleep, we toddled off for our tour and of course more whisky at the end. Hubby dear was a bit surprised to find just a few bricks lay between him and a 28 year old! We were sleeping outside the whisky store! We left our boats where they were and went for a wee walk along to Ardbeg. After the welcome at Laphroaig, Ardbeg was a bit disappointing, very commercial - no freebies, not even a wee taste!

 Next we headed back along the road, popping into Lagavulin on the way. We had another whisky tour here. Whilst waiting on our tour to begin, we made ourselves at home in their very comfortable lounge. Our dripping jackets were draped over various surfaces and radiators, whilst we settled down in the comfy chairs, so comfy we didn't hear the previous tour return! There was the four of us out cold, must have been the tiredness, it couldn't possibly be the whisky!
VERY comfy seats!

Enjoying a wee nip
Nicely relaxed
 We did eventually head back to Laphroaig to collect our boats. Another short paddle (just as well!) round past Portellen with it's disused distillery, across the bay passing the square lighthouse at Carraig and onto the beautiful wee beach at Port na Luinge.
Our laundrette
Ansgar dressing for dinner
Drying the breeks
 

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