Scotland, Part 4

I wish it was always as easy to get up before dawn as it was in Scotland. Many mornings we had early ferry check-ins, but little problem rousing ourselves from sleep (and neither of us is a morning person). It must be a vacation thing. And we had a good routine. Wake up, throw on clothes, turn on the heat. Kim would open the back of the van and turn on the gas, I would get the stove going to make coffee. It was no different that beautiful morning in Skipness. We woke to what sounded like an angry chicken (it turned out to be a pheasant being chased away from the water by a seagull), and watched a stork catching his breakfast. Also, those “Pheasant Crossing” sings were no joke. Those damn things were ALL over the road and in the way that morning. But, we aren’t used to pheasants, so it was delightfully Scottish rather than aggravating.

The ferry to Islay was called “The Finlaggan” and was just as luxurious as the Hamnavoe had been. The parking deck even had a large car lift to fit more vehicles.

Unlike the Hamnavoe, we didn’t nap on the way over. It didn’t have quite the same sleep-inducing rocking motion, and so we found a small table to sit at and watched the scenery as the boisterous group at the next table over spoke in what we assumed was Welsh.

Since the weather hadn’t made up its mind between pouring rain and sun, we settled on setting out northwards to find the Kildalton Cross first thing, as it was fairly dry and the cross was located out of doors.  Though only a few short miles from the ferry, the road was narrow and rutted, with more traffic than you’d expect. And, for extra measure, a random peacock wandering about in the way!

09.17.18a

The sign on the gate to the churchyard. I have already declared I must have one made for my pasture.

09.17.18b

The Kildalton Cross, created in the 8th Century. 8th!!!

09.17.18c

09.17.18d

09.17.18e

Sheep weren’t the only marauding livestock.

09.17.18f

Such a perfect scene of Scottish Blackface sheep grazing freely, no predators to speak of (no, seriously. I asked what predators they have for sheep in Scotland, and the answer, essentially, was none. Some large birds of prey may occasionally try for a newborn lamb, but that’s pretty much it).

09.17.18g

09.17.18h

What a life to live!

09.17.18i

09.17.18j

They say if you’re lucky you’ll spot otters in these protected coastal beaches. We didn’t, but loved the “Otter Crossing” signs.

09.17.18k

For lunch we headed to the cafe at Ardbeg Distillery. We are fans of Islay whisky, and the distilleries were the main reason we chose to spend a day there.

09.17.18l

All of the distilleries on Islay are lovely, but the main 3: Ardbeg, Lagavulin, and Laphroaig, are rather close together on the eastern coastline. All 3 therefor have a similar look: white with large black, block-style lettering. This was to help ships differentiate them, as they are easily readable from the sea.

09.17.18m

09.17.18n

09.17.18o

Yes, you can smell the whisky as you walk around, and yes it smells delicious.

09.17.18p

09.17.18q

Although we would have enjoyed touring all the distilleries, we settled on Laphroaig. When you buy a bottle of it, you are given a code. Register it online, and voila! You now own 1 square foot of peat across from the distillery. If you visit, you are given one dram of whisky as your rent, along with a flag of your nationality and the GPS coordinates to your plot. We of course had registered months and months ago, so were were excited to collect or rent and plant our flags (they even have walls of wellies for you to use to walk out into the field!).

09.17.18r

09.17.18s

09.17.18t

The barley floor. We got to taste pretty much every step of the process. It was quite fascinating, actually.

09.17.18u

09.17.18v

09.17.18w

09.17.18x

The only snag we hit that day was needing petrol for Fergus. What we hadn’t realized is that most of the petrol stations on Islay close at 5pm. We spent a bit of time searching for the last remaining station – open until 7 – before we decided upon a spot to park for the night.

09.17.18y

We ended up on the beach in Bruichladdaich just before some rain showers settled in (though we did manage some pictures and shell collecting as well!)

09.17.18z

09.17.18za

Our nearest neighbors were far enough away that we felt we had decent privacy.

09.17.18zb

09.17.18zc

09.17.18zd

09.17.18ze

09.17.18zf

Across the road from us in the other direction was a field full of – of course! – more sheep and cows. While walking along the beach we saw plenty of hoof prints and sheep poop, so we knew they wandered over at least once in a while. In fact, they were all in the road the next morning as we drive through the pre-dawn dark to the ferry.

Islay, we barely knew ye. We’ll be back!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s