Travel Concept #1 – The Islands of Western Scotland

Right, so this blog has a lot of travel stuff on it, and I’m back in that procrastinatorial mindset.  The result is that I’ve created a new category of posts – ooooo, exciting!  Basically I’ll just write down ideas I have for journeys I’d like to do at some point.  So, what’s the first one I hear you ask?  Well, read on and find out.

I’ve long had a love of islands.  I’m not sure why, but they always fascinate me.  Their close relationship to the sea, and the communities that live on them.  I guess it’s not a particular surprise, given that I’ve lived on an (admittedly fairly large) island my whole life, and the UK is by definition, and island nation.  A few years ago, Martin Clunes did a series of three documentaries about the smaller islands around the UK (watch them on YouTube here, they are excellent).

Anyway, I’ve been told that the islands off the west coast of Scotland are beautiful (and I’ve visited Skye and Arran already.  They were simply stunning, so it’s safe to assume that the others are equally great, and it’d be marvellous to go back to those two islands anyway). But all the best trips need a purpose.  Fortunately, whilst in the depths of procrastination, it struck me.  What’s Scotland famous for? Whisky.  Obviously.  So, why not merge a trip to the Scottish islands with a tour of all their respective distilleries?  A quick search online later, and I had the complete list of distilleries.  13 in total, spread over six islands (Arran, Islay, Jura, Lewis/Harris, Mull, and Skye).  A few minutes after that, and the route was planned, with the ferries all worked out.

A trip to Harris and Lewis would give me the chance to visit the Callanish Standing Stones, which is something I’ve wanted to do for quite a long time.  They’re essentially similar to Stonehenge, but far less touristy and in a much more picturesque location!  The geology of this part of the world is amazing too.  I had a trip to Arran in Part IA, Skye in Part II, and have also studied Mull extensively in Part IB. Lewis is home to the oldest rocks in the UK – the Lewisian Gneiss (at a whopping 2.7 billion years old).  A sample of the Lewisian Gneiss also happens to be my favourite one in my rock collection (admittedly I collected it from Skye, but the rock type is the same)!

Now all I need are nine days free and a car with a decent sized boot!

So, without further ado, here’s the concept:

Island Distillery Itinerary (click to enlarge)

Island Distillery Itinerary (click to enlarge) – ferry prices include two people and a car

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4 thoughts on “Travel Concept #1 – The Islands of Western Scotland

  1. Armin Grewe says:

    8 Islay distilleries in 2 days? That’s fairly ambitious, your probably won’t see much. And miss out on the geology you can find on Islay.

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    • AC says:

      That’s very true! In all likelihood, I’d extend it out to last two weeks, with some more time allocated for exploring each of the islands properly. Have you visited many of the Hebrides at all? If so, what are your recommendations? 🙂

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      • Armin Grewe says:

        I visit Islay several times year, hence my comment 😉
        Apart from that I’ve been to most of the other islands at least once, many several times. I’d say if you want to visit all Islay distilleries properly restrict yourself to max 3 per day. In particular if you want to do the distillery tours, as there are only a limited number of tours per day. Also add a bit of time when looking at the locations of them for other things, e.g. Kilchoman is close to Machir Bay and Saligo Bay for beautiful beaches.

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      • AC says:

        Ah that’s brilliant! Thanks for all the advice, I really appreciate it. The tours definitely sound worth doing, and good scenery is always a bonus (especially as I’ve started getting into photography over the past few months). One difficult question, if you could only visit one distillery, which would you choose?

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