Outdoor Activities on Islay
Pony Trekking: Wonderful scenic, beach rides at Ballivicar Farm & Rockside Farm.
Fishing: Fresh water & Sea Loch, river trout & salmon plus sea fishing. Boats are available for hire.
Walking, cycling, running: You have the whole Island to enjoy. There is the famous Paps of Jura Fell race in May.
Day Trips to Isle of Jura & Isle of Colonsay: If you like adventures a 10 minute boat ride over to the rugged & isolated Island of Jura is a must for exploring. With only 200 inhabitants, one village, a Distillery, thousands of wild Red Deer & a huge expanse of open moorland, hills & spectacular coastline you can't go wrong. If you are feeling very fit, try a climb up one of the Paps on a clear day. The View will be worth all the effort.
Isle of Colonsay is a longer journey on the CalMac Ferry but is like the garden of Eden & again is so different, lush, & beautiful. If you love boat journeys, gardens & exploring go to delightful Colonsay.
Wildlife: With such a diverse landscape ,ancient peat bogs, heather clad hill, sand dunes, towering seacliffs, woodlands & rivers, Islay is home to over 250 bird species. The Island is a bird watchers paradise including 9 pairs of Golden eagles, White tailed eagles, a staggering 40 pairs of Hen Harriers, Merlins, Peregrines, Buzzards, to name a few. During the BBC Autumn watch in 2011 Islay was described as 'such a magical, moody, dramatic & beautiful place, with so much wildlife it deserves the crown of Queen of the Hebrides'.
Islay's famous wildlife exists because of the way man has farmed the land over the centuries. Many areas are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI's) for Choughs, Arctic Terns, Whooper Swans & Greenland White Front & Barnacle Geese. One of Islay's most spectacular sights is the arrival of over 45000 Internationally protected geese in October . Islay is the wintering home to half of the world's population of these geese.
You can also see Grey & Common Seals & if lucky a playful Otter or two along the coastline plus herds of Red Deer on the Moors , Fallow & Roe Deer among the woods & coppices. Visit the 3 RSPB Reserves at Loch Gruinart, Smaulladh & the Oa. Further information is available at the Natural History Centre in centre of Port Charlotte.
Barnacle Geese at Loch Gruinart
History & Culture: Islay's history & culture is visible every where you go including the lay out of all the villages which is nearly exactly the same as it was over a hundred years ago when the roads clattered with horse and cart. The most famous historic sites are the wonderful setting at Finlaggan, the site of the first gathering of the Lord of the Isles, Dunyvaig Castle sitting perched precariously on a rocky outcrop in Lagavulin Bay & the exquisite 9th Centuary Celtic Kildalton Cross, beautifully intact at the ruins of Kildalton Chapel.
The Museum of Islay Life in Port Charlotte is a must if you want to learn more about Islay's dramatic history. A visit to the Woollen Mill will also take you back in time and allow you to see fantastic woven cloth as it was made 100 years ago. For more information visit the Islay Info Website