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Tuesday, 03/Feb/2009

WalkIslay 2009 Islay Walking Week Preview

This evening I'm going to write about an Islay event I'm very much looking forward to. I think some of my readers might do the same. Hopefully I will see quite a few of you on Islay for this event in April. As it already says it in the title I'm obviously talking about the WalkIslay Islay Walking Week 2009.

The full programme is available on the WalkIslay website now, for today I'm going to pick out some of the highlights for me and recommendations for others. Later this week I'll pull together a much more detailed ‘review’ with more information and in particular pictures for each of the walks.

Picture of a man taking a picture of the scenery on the shore of a sound between two islands

As is pretty much tradition now the first walk will be lead by Donald James (DJ) MacPhee. The walk he will lead this year will be very similar to the Lossit and the Sound of Islay walk he led in 2004, only in reverse. In particular the stretch along the Sound of Islay provides some fantastic views and photo opportunities. The man taking a picture in the picture on the right is a well known photographer, it's actually Mark Unsworth of Islay Studios. You can actually find the picture he took (well, one of them) in this gallery on his website. Certainly a walk not to miss!

Picture of walkers on the summit of a hill, very hazy views

Sunday sees a repeat of the Giùr-bheinn Walk from 2007. Back then it was extremely hazy, so the views (and photo opportunities) were severely limited. We're hoping for much better visibility this year! Also a good opportunity to visit Bunnahabhain distillery and may be try a wee dram.

Tuesday will see two great walks: First of all the fantastic walk from Gortantaoid to Bholsa and Rhuvaal, returning along the Sound of Islay to Bunnahabhain. I've done this walk twice, first in 2006 and then again in 2008 (sorry, page for that isn't written yet). It's a brilliant walk everyone should have done at least once. It does require a reasonable degree of fitness though, so start getting in shape now!

The second walk is a repeat of the Loch to Loch Walk we did with Jack Adamson in 2007, only this time in the other direction. A great walk with many fascinating and unexpected views of Islay. As you can only do one of the walks this is the one I intend to be on.

Monday and Wednesday will see excursions to Jura and Colonsay respectively, I'll cover those in the more detailed ‘review’ later this week. On Thursday you can test your knowledge after watching my Granny's Rock on the Isle of Islay video, the walk from Kilchiaran to Kilchoman distillery (and back) will give you the chance to spot Granny's Rock.

Picture of walkers approaching a lighthouse, the sea below

On Friday will be one of my favourite walks on Islay: Out to Proaig and then on to McArthur's Head. I'll need to count it again, but I think I've been to Proaig 4 or 5 times and to McArthur's Head at least 3 times (e.g. Proaig and McArthur's Head in 2006). Yet I'm still looking forward to go again. There's something in that walk that just fascinates me, may be it's the fantastic wide views once Proaig comes into view, may be the view down the Sound of Islay from the lighthouse.

I hope this will get you interested and may be even make you getting your walking boots out to get ready for WalkIslay 2009. I'll pull together more links and pictures for a more detailed update later this week. If you have any questions I'll do my best to help, I've been on all walking weeks from the first one in 2003 up to the most recent in 2008 (where I'm quite a bit behind in preparing the travelogue).

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