More Islay – there is so much to see

So for the time being settled at Kintra Farm, the weather is ok – some sunshine some rain. But the best part is two feet away from the beach. We walked along for miles today and saw a handful of people walking dogs but other than that it was like having our own beach. Only 2 or 3 other campers there so its very peaceful.

Looking at the tourist information we found a few things we thought looked like we needed to make sure we visited.

First one was Finlaggan. Its the was the centre of the Lordship of the Isles. Its now mainly ruins but some of the buildings were still fairly complete and its all set on an island on Loch Finlaggen. We spent a couple of hours wandering around, little footbridges link you to the islands and there are plenty of information boards telling you about the history.

Next stop was the Islay Wollen Mill – like something from a hundred years ago. The looms were running and it was so loud you could hardly hear yourself speak. The owner came and spoke to us and he came from? Yes Wales. He had moved up to Islay years ago and now run the mill with his family. They made incredibly beautiful tartans and cloths that he told us were sold to lots of the fashion houses. The sort of place that could be a major tourist attraction but other than selling some souvenirs it really is just a working mill.

Last stop today was Islay House Square. Several small craft businesses set up in old coach house buildings. There was a brewery of islay ale, yes lost Iain in there for an hour doing tastings. Also a wonderful quilting workshop, amazing quilts made by the local ladies – I could have spent a fortune in there. We bought a few chocolates from the little chocolates shop and decided to head back to camp for the night. A little windy of the dunes but the views over the loch more than made up for that.

So this morning we decided to head for the American Monument on the Oa Peninsular. We parked in the carpark and walked the mile uphill (yes walking and uphill) to the monument. Cold and blowy for sunny so it certainly blew the cobwebs away. The monument was erected the the American Red Cross to commemorate the loss of 266 American servicemen who drowned when the HMS Tuscania was torpedoed just off the coast in 1918 and a few months later another ship the HMS Otranto was sunk. The monument is 131 metres high and built to look like a lighthouse, very moving to read the inscriptions and names and worth the effort to get there.

We have seen a fair few wild camping in the true sense of the word. Lots of little beaches and people tuck away there vans out of anyones way. There are only the two campsites on the island so there isnt too much choice but for us Port Charlotte is the best choice, especially at this time of year when its a bit cold, lovely warm showers and a nice cafe on site are a big bonus. The village of Port Charlotte has very little there but well worth a walk around just to see the whitewashed cottages and of course the local pub!

We seem to have seen all we want to now so we plan to head over to Jura tomorrow.

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