-> 2007 -> Andrew Jefford Blogs About Islay


Andrew Jefford Blogs About Islay

Quite a few of my readers will probably have heard of Andrew Jefford, some might even know him personally. For those who don't know him, Andrew Jefford is a ‘freelance drinks journalist and broadcaster’. Among other books he has written the excellent Peat Smoke and Spirit: A Portrait of Islay and Its Whiskies. In March he started, his blog. I first noticed it in April through a post about, obviously, Islay:

Back then he wrote about an upcoming visit to Islay, Islay Journey. Yesterday the follow-up appeared, Islay in April. A very nice post, just lacking a few pictures:

One day I hope to learn how to post photographs on this site, but for the time being you will have to make do with the word-pictures.

His word-pictures are excellent though, knowing the places he was describing I could see them in front of my inner eye. For those not familiar with all of it, here's a view of the telegraph poles leading out to the lighthouse at Rhuvaal (for a larger version and more pictures of the area see my The north-east of Islay travelogue page):

Picture of a wide landscape with telegraph poles leading to a lighthouse in the distance

In the comments to the entries Andrew raises an interesting topic and asks me a question. I'm going to answer it there, but also crosspost it here to open it to a wider audience:

I have a long-term dream that there would one day be a long coastal path all the way around the island. Islay would be very suitable for such a project since its topography is much friendlier than some of the other Hebridean islands. Indeed, with such a path, it could become one of Scotland’s premier walking destinations, and there would be great synergies for the distilleries, too. The landowners on the island are generally sympathetic to walkers (Dunlossit and Ardtalla most helpfully so), and the island’s tourism would benefit. As an experienced walker on Islay, what do you think?

Now I think that's an interesting idea, although I've got mixed feelings about it. Why?

During my recent visit to Islay we were actually talking about how long it would take to walk around Islay (I think we came up with something like 8 days). Someone mentioned someone who had over a number of stages walked around Islay, parts of which were quite difficult. Which is the part making me think a path would not be such a good idea. Yes, you read that right, not a good idea. Part of the attraction of walking in those areas is for me that the areas are pretty much untouched, that there are no paths. It is wild and you need to make an effort to get there. It is off the beaten track. It is remote.

At the same time I think it would be nice to make some areas of Islay more accessible and easier to walk in. To an extent it would also be safer and encourage walking. The good news is that there are already ideas to turn some of this into reality. Lindy MacLellan is driving a number of efforts through the Islay Community Access Group. We were talking about her work while out walking during the walking week. There are ideas (not sure how far they have been converted to actuals plans yet) to better connect some of the distilleries. Examples include a path between Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich as well as a path going out from Port Ellen to Ardbeg past Laphroaig and Lagavulin. Quite a few people, especially day visitors, actually already walk this stretch along the road. Anyone familiar with the road will agree that this is not without risk of being run over on this narrow and winding road.

In summary I think my preference would be a compromise: Improve and/or create good paths in some areas e.g. between some of the distilleries, but leave other areas wild and unspoilt, e.g. the far north east. That way Islay should be able to cater for most interests and capabilities.



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