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Didòmhnaich, 03/May/2015

Look back at the Islay walking week 2015

Islay Events written in stencil

Two weeks ago I returned from Islay after a wonderful Islay walking week. I think it's really time now that I write at least something about, having not got round to it so far for various reasons. I'm not entirely sure, but I think as of this year I might be the only person who completed at least one walk in all of the walking weeks since the first one in 2003. So how was this year's walking and more?

Picture of walkers above a waterfall

It was great. Having arrived at Kilchoman Cottages (now run by David and Caroline after Ian and Margaret's well earned retirement) on Saturday evening after a nice drive past Loch Lomond and through Argyll (with snow on top of the hills in the Arrochar Alps) the walking started on Sunday morning on the Oa. We stopped at Port an Eas, where I took a quick detour down to the bottom of the waterfall and the beach, many thanks to David Wood and the other walkers for their patience while they waited at the top. Later that day I enjoyed a nice sunset in Machir Bay and watched the International Space Station (ISS) passing over Kilchoman, a great sight.

Unfortunately the next two days the weather deteriorated with a lot of clouds and at times at lot of rain. That didn't stop us from walking though. On Monday Willy Inglis took us into the hills north of Bridgend, on Tuesday Scott Brown took us up to Rhuvaal from Bridgend (we shortened the route as with the low clouds it would have been too dangerous to go over the hills to Bholsa). On both days Willy and Scott were very well supported by Grant, trainee gamekeeper (hope that's the right term) at Islay Estates (see also their Walk Islay entry).

Picture of a group of wet walkers in the rain

Despite the rain the walking was very enjoyable, mainly because of the walk leaders and the banter with the other walkers. The mixture of locals, returning walkers and first time visitors really makes it enjoyable.

On Wednesday I decided to take a break while many of the walkers visited Colonsay for a nice sunny day at Kiloran Bay. I went to the beaches on Islay instead (Machir Bay and Saligo Bay) and visited Bruichladdich where among other things I filled a bottle straight from a cask. Thursday saw us in the sunny south east of Islay, where Tam Dunn and Niall Colthart took us to the Iron Age forts and an abandoned village, some great history and local knowledge from them. I can't remember how many exactly, but I think 6 or 7 antlers were collected during this walk (one of them is now in my lounge).

Then it was time for my highlight of the walking week, which actually wasn't on Islay but on neighbouring Jura. Gordon Muir and Paul Graham took us to the far north of Jura, past Barnhill (where George Orwell wrote 1984) to the Gulf of Corryvreckan with the Corryvreckan Whirlpool. We had some of the most amazing weather possible and just while we were at the Gulf three German Schnellboote passed through (for one of them see German Schnellboot and Venture West RIB at the Corryvreckan). While not in full flow we still got to see the whirlpool and standing waves, an amazing sight.

Picture of a group of walkers high above a gulf between two islands

On Saturday it was time to say good bye, after a visit to Ian and Margaret I had another chance to visit Saligo Bay before it was time to board the ferry to Kennacraig. The ferry crossing took place in beautiful sunshine with great views back to Islay and Jura.

A fitting end to a fantastic week.

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