Friday, 29 August 2014

Islay be back!

Leaving Port Ellen
McArthur's Head lighthouse
A long way down
The wee Bothy
Room with a view

The next morning we were heading back along the south of the island passing the three distillers again, not stopping this time! The weather was nice and calm at this point so we decided to carry on round the outside of the skerries. It was at this point the northerly wind decided to blow hard right down the Sound of Islay. We had a hard battle into a F5. We had hoped to pitch on the flat area below the lighthouse at McArthur's Head, however after landing and clambering to the base of the light, we decided we'd possibly be blown away, certainly we wouldn't be bothered with midges!

Nice and tidy
 We carried on to the bothy at Chladaich. It was nice getting a fire going, draping kit around and not having to bother about pitching a tent.

Looking over to Jura

Next morning was glorious. The wind had died, the sun was out and the tide was going in the right direction - perfect! We paddled out into the middle of the flow and had a gentle, but fairly fast paddle up past Port Askaig, passing the lighthouse at Rhuvaal and round the corner to watch another otter blissfully unaware of us, diving then coming up happily playing with his catch. After that we landed on the beach at Dhoruis over looking Oronsay and Colonsay,(another trip is calling).

 Lunch over,we went for a wee explore through the massive interlinking caves. We could only go so far in as we hadn't taken torches. When you see the size of them, it's a wonder they haven't all just collapsed, I guess they will eventually. Again it was good to see the stretch of coast we hadn't managed to paddle, it'll still be there for another trip! It was now time to turn and head back down the Sound, with the Bunnahabhain distillers being the first one to come our way. It would be rude not to stop, so we did. Up in the tiny visitors room, no comfy chairs to snooze in here, we (Alice and myself) sampled their lovely rich handcream, before we all had our obligatory tasting of a couple of whiskies, the 12 year is particularly tasty.
Arriving at Bunnahabhain
Don't ask - again!
No. 7
Back in the boats, we made our way the short distance to Caol Ila where we had a tour through the wonderful glass fronted still room, unfortunately photos weren't allowed here, it was then out into the warm sunshine for our tastings with another 4 being forced down our throats. Somehow we got  back in our boats for the very short drift back to Port Askaig where we pitched our tents in the garden of the hotel owner. A lovely fish tea in the hotel that evening (recommend it) was washed down with an Ardbeg, the only distillers we hadn't had a taste from.
No. 8 - Last one for Islay

Made it back

And the next one

And Ansgar

The next morning, our last,  the mingin' weather which was forecast had arrived. We had already decided not to paddle, but to take the ferry over to Jura. It would be a shame to try all the Islay distillers and not Jura. Hubby dear managed a double tasting as I would be driving.
Jura - No. 1

Our lunch spot

It wasn't long before we were loading the boats on the ferry back to Kennacraig with the anticipation of seeing if Ansgar's van was still there or if it had exploded after leaving fresh beefburgers in it for a week!

On the big boat
Another long drive home to tackle 2 weeks worth of wet, salty kit and possibly calling AA, but well worth it! Yet another fantastic trip, great paddling, great company, lots of giggles (nothing to do with the whisky!) Cheers Alice and Ansgar for organising it and as you said, we'll see you in a whirlpool soon!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Oa! Yeah!

Looking over to IRELAND!

Checking forecasts and tides, Alice reckoned there was going to be too much swell to carry on up the west coast. We opted for an early start with empty boats for a morning paddle round to the Mull of Oa and a wee keek up the west coast. We passed lots of big, hairy, horny goats with their wee ones jumping across the rocks before scrambling up steep cliffs. Getting round to the Oa, we could see further up the coast with some impressive looking surf, but not stuff I'd want to land a boat through. There wasn't time to hang around or the tides would have been strong against us, it was bumpy enough as it was and that was without any whisky! We paddled back to a stoney wee bay for nibbles and stretch out in the sunshine, no hurry, it was still morning.

Mull of Oa
Enjoying the sunshine

After that we had a short paddle back to Portellen where we pitched in the garden in front of the bar. Ansgar and Alice know all the hot shower spots, we were able to get hot baths in the hotel - oh I didn't want to get back out!

Don't ask!
Portellen distillers
We had decided to have a day on land the following day and take a bus up to the new inland distillers of Kilchoman, via Bruichladdich.

 We didn't stop for tasting at Bruichladdich, Hubby dear had already brought a bottle with him maintaining that is why sea kayaks are so pointy, to hold the whisky in place!
Waiting for our lift

That way!

Surf looks much smaller than it really was!
 Alice had arranged with someone from Kilchoman to meet us at the road end to take us the 5 miles down to the distillers. This distillers was quite modern, had more hand cream to sample as well as bowls of yummy fudge to taste. Having eaten most of the fudge, I did feel obliged to buy some in the end. After yet more whisky tasting, just a mere 4 each this time, we toddled, happily (very!) down the road to have lunch on the beach. Again seeing the surf made us grateful we weren't landing here with heavy boats.
Resting between distillers
Stone age art?
We then had the walk back up to the road end. This was going to be fun, Hubby dear and I were wearing crocs and socks, looked naff, but ended up being really comfy walking wear. Our sensible walking shoes were carefully stashed beside my camera back in the car on the mainland. We managed to hitch a lift to the road end, then another one up to Bowmore where an ice cream was the order of the day before another comfy seat in at the Bowmore distillers. This time the whiskies were accompanied by bowls of chocolate raisins, I think they can count as one of our 5 a day!
Made it to Bowmore
This is beginning to be a pleasant habit!