From Machrihanish we head up the coast towards Tarbert to catch our ferry to Islay. We pass the island of Gigha on our left (on our list to visit next time) and arrive with plenty of time for the ferry to Kennacraig on Islay. Visiting the Queen of the Hebrides is something we have both wanted to do since we bought the first camper so somewhat excited to say the least.
Another smooth crossing and arrive at 5pm dead on time. As usual no idea where to go for the night, we think of wild camping but decide against. A check on the internet shows a site at Port Charlotte at the Leisure Centre. We get on easily even though there are only a few pitches which are right on the edge of a low cliff overlooking the beach. It’s fairly windy so a little apprehensive but sure it will be fine, the cafe in the leisure centre sells Irn Bru ice cream – life really doesn’t get any better. The path down to the beach bring you to loads of little rock pools, plenty to dip in and out of and lose a few hours looking at the views of the Paps of Jura in this distance over Bowmore.
So first full day on the island and time to explore a bit. First stop Portnahaven and Wemyss Bay. Two little hamlets at the end of the peninsular. Tiny fishing cottages, a bar and not much else. There is a lighthouse a few hundred yards out and we couldn’t work out of there was a causeway as tide was coming in so gave that a miss rather than get caught out with the tides.
By now Iain was itching to get started on any one of the eight distillers on the island so we headed for Kilchoman, the first new distillery to be built on the island for over 25 years. Its based on a farm with an incredible gift shop and cafe – worth visiting for these alone. From there we toured the north west of the island, roads are good and easy enough to get the camper most places. Lots of little sandy beaches with hardly a soul on them.
At the top of the island we went to the RSPB reserve, to be honest better spotting by the lochs. Loch Gruinart is one of the loveliest places on the island. When the tide goes out you can walk across but would be careful as it turns quite quickly. We saw several wild campers – discussed whether we should wild camp – and agreed we are too woosy and head back to camp.
Another day another distillery. This time we visited Laphroaig on the South. Wonderful tour, and a free tasting for me (Iain driving – bless:) ). Weather was crappy all day – low cloud so a drive along the coast was a bit pointless but we did it anyway. A trip down to the village for supplies then decide to try the other campsite on the island Kintra Farm. On the opposite side of the bay past Bowmore right in the sand dunes by the loch. No electric and pitch where you want. Its all lovely except you arent allowed to empty you toilet! at all even if you use green chemicals. So you cant stay long before you need to head to the other site.