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When we woke up this morning we were relieved to see that the weather looked significantly better than yesterday It's hard to make them out in the photos, but when we stepped outside the cottage there were several seals in the harbour again. Portnahaven had been pretty even in the torrential rain yesterday, but this morning everything looked even better. We went for a stroll around the village to enjoy the sunshine. From the far side of the harbour we could look back towards the cottage again. And at one point we spotted seven different seals Some were sunbathing on the rocks, while others were just little heads bobbing up and down in the water. It was really cool to see them - Portnahaven has definitely been a wonderful place to stay Because the weather was so good today, we decided to try and revisit some of the places we went to yesterday in the rain. First stop was the Oa peninsula, where we tried to retake a photograph in the same position as yesterday - in yesterday's picture, the hill behind me wasn't visible! The Oa peninsula is supposed to have some of the most spectacular scenery on Islay and we were optimistic about actually seeing some of it today At the end of the peninsula is an RSPB nature reserve with a marked circular trail of a couple of miles. The signs for the trail were easy to follow but I was slightly concerned when they started leading us through a field of cows. I mean, look at the size of the horn on these Luckily the cows seemed fairly placid. And once we got past them there were some amazing views. The coastline is really beautiful here. And the sea seemed really calm today after yesterday's bad weather. The trail was leading us towards a monument on the top of a hill. This is known as the American Monument. It was constructed by the American Red Cross to commemorate two ships which sank off the coast of Islay during WWI. The monument was designed to look like a lighthouse and it definitely does. From the hill on which the monument is situated we had more great views of the cliffs. The cliffs were reminiscent of Shetland at times, although the waves definitely weren't comparable! It was a really beautiful spot and I'm so glad we came back today to see it in the sunshine The weather was so clear that we realised we could actually see all the way back to where we were staying. It was too far away to be captured properly by photos, but in the photo below the tip of the peninsula that you can see in the background is where Portnahaven is and in real life we could make out the lighthouse which is behind our cottage Once we'd finished the walk at the Oa, we started driving back in the general direction of Portnahaven. I wanted to revisit the beach which we'd also seen in the rain yesterday. As we were driving, we realised we were about to pass through Bowmore where we'd seen there was an Indian takeaway and we knew it was open between the hours of 12 and 2 for lunch... We ended up changing our plans, picking up a lunchtime takeaway and driving back to the cottage to eat it. A slightly unusual thing to have for lunch, but given the limited food options on the island it made sense to get a meal while we could Once we'd finished eating - and I'd spent a while sitting in the conservatory and watching the seals! - we set off towards Machir beach. Today we were more successful and found an easy path down to the beach which didn't involve crossing a river The good weather meant we weren't the only people at the beach today. But you couldn't exactly describe it as crowded The sand looked really beautiful in the sunshine. But although it was bright and sunny, it was still quite windy! We walked along the beach for a while, before heading back to the cottage for a final evening of enjoying the sea views. Islay has been a really lovely island to visit and I'm really glad we got to see it in the sunshine as well as in the rain
The weather forecast did not look good for today and, although it looked dry when we woke up, by the time we had finished breakfast the first drops of rain were starting to fall. Our only plan for today was to explore Islay, so we decided to start with a short walk around the village of Portnahaven where we are staying. They didn't make it into the photos, but every so often as we walked along we could see the heads of seals bobbing up out of the water in the harbour The house we're staying in is right at the end of this line. If you look carefully you might even be able to make out our car parked outside the furthest house. The lighthouse in the picture is on a small island called Orsay, just off the coast of Islay. The rain had started off lightly but was beginning to pick up a bit as we circled back towards the cottage and got in the car. Our first destination was a place called Machir beach, supposed to be the most beautiful one on the island. For some reason there was no one else in the car park today as we parked and started walking towards it. Within a few minutes we got our first view of the sand. We didn't ultimately walk down to the sand, because it looked like it would require crossing this stream, but we walked along the dunes for a while We were well and truly wet by the time we got back in the car and drove the short distance to our next destination, an RSPB nature reserve at Loch Gruinart. Theoretically there's a circular walk you can do here but it was a bit too wet for that today, so we just walked down to one of the bird hides, from where we had a bit of a view towards the water, and then walked back. Our next stop was Bowmore, the largest town on the island, where we succeeded in finding a petrol station but failed at finding anywhere to get lunch. We drove on to Port Ellen instead, the town where we arrived on the ferry on Tuesday, and explored lunch options there. We drew a blank with lunch, but did find a hotel that was serving coffee and cake From Port Ellen a small road leads to the Oa peninsula, which is supposed to have the most spectacular scenery on the island. We made our way down the road but the further we drove, the mistier it became. We weren't destined to see the scenery today At that point we decided to call it a day and head back to the cottage to dry out! I think we made the best of the torrential rain today, but fingers crossed the weather will be a bit brighter tomorrow
We only arrived on Islay late last night and this morning we were already scheduled to depart it for another island. This was just a day trip though, to the nearby island of Colonsay. There are only two days per week when a ferry from the mainland to Islay continues on towards Oban, stopping at Colonsay on the way. Wednesday was one of those days and we had decided to make the most of the ferry timetable to have a short trip to Colonsay. The ferry wasn't until 12.15, so we had a relaxed start to the morning in the cottage before driving across Islay to Port Askaig, which is where this particular ferry leaves from. The weather forecast is not great for the next few days and so it was quite damp and misty as we drove across the island towards the port, although not raining heavily. The ferry was on time and we were one of the few vehicles directed towards the queue for Colonsay, with most of the other vehicles boarding the ferry being destined for Oban. We had been expecting just to drive onto the ferry, but had a bit of unexpected excitement when Tim was told to reverse onto it instead We made it on board and soon were on our way to Colonsay, a journey of just over one hour. The ferry lands at Scalasaig, the biggest settlement on the island. The entire population of Colonsay is just 124 people, so Scalasaig is definitely not a metropolis. The island itself is not physically very big either, being around 8 miles long and 3 miles wide, so we didn't have very far to drive to get to anywhere we wanted to visit. The main attraction on Colonsay is Kiloran Bay. This is a huge beach with golden sands. It was a little bit damp and windy today, but I can imagine that on a sunny day it must look tropical here. The beach came highly recommended by our Scottish guidebook. What the guidebook hadn't said was that getting down to the sand was a bit of a challenge. At least, some of us found it a challenge The problem was that on a slightly wet day like today, the rocks were a bit slippery to clamber over. Once I'd made it down we were able to start exploring the beach properly Our next challenge was to cross this stream of water, which runs all across the beach. We followed the stream for a little while as it led into the sand dunes behind the beach. There were some great views out across the sand. Eventually we found a spot where we could cross the water and walk down to the main sandy part of the beach. And there was lots of sand to explore. Lots and lots of sand! We were able to have a good walk along the beach and ultimately get up to 10 000 steps. At the far end of the beach we came across these remains. Not sure whether they're real or some sort of sculpture! From the edge of the beach we walked up along the sand dunes for a bit. We only had to share the views with some sheep. This one in particular was very keen to protect her lamb from us. Some of the sand dunes were quite unusual - look at the ridges on this one. Eventually we had to turn around and retrace our steps back along the beach. It was still really pretty, despite being so misty. Then we just had to get back across the water... ...and climb back up to the car. From there we did a bit of a road trip around the island, finally ending up at Scalasaig again. There was a pretty community garden there. We walked around Scalasaig for a while, admiring the views of the coast. We could look back towards the ferry port where we'd arrived. After a while it became clear that we'd well and truly left Scalasaig behind. We turned around and retraced our steps back to the town. Before it was time to catch our ferry back to Islay, we just had time to drive down to the far south of the island. A tidal causeway here connects Colonsay to another smaller island, Oronsay, so if you're here at a full or new moon you can apparently walk across. There was so much water here today, it was hard to imagine that being possible! Then it was time for us to drive back to Scalasaig for the ferry across to Islay. It's been fun to visit Colonsay today, but it really is quite a small island; I think we would have struggled to spend more than half a day here!
We had another long day of travelling ahead of us today, involving two ferries and a drive of around three hours in between. We woke up in the hotel on the Isle of Arran, where it was still lovely and sunny. After making the most of the hotel breakfast, we just had time for a quick stroll to enjoy the views for a final time before setting off across the island to Brodick. We were booked on a ferry from Brodick back to Ardrossan at 11am. As the ferry pulled out of Brodick, we had some great views back towards the Isle of Arran. We arrived in Ardrossan around midday. From there, we had a drive of 120 miles towards the ferry terminal of Kennacraig on the Kintyre peninsula. Our first stop was not a very exciting one - an Asda superstore on the outskirts of Dumbarton. When I booked the cottage on the Isle of Islay, I got a message from the owner telling me that it would be advisable to stock up on food on the mainland, because there were reports of queues for groceries in the island's shops Dumbarton was more or less on our way anyway, so it made sense to stop off there and stock up on some essentials for the next few days. After we'd done the shopping the journey became a bit more scenic, with the route initially taking us along the shore of Loch Lomond. We stopped at a small village called Luss, where there is a good car park and beautiful views of the loch. We had a short stroll by the waterside. Loch Lomond was a wonderful shade of blue today. It wasn't completely peaceful though, as there were some people out on speedboats It was still a lovely place to visit though And the village of Luss itself is really pretty too. We could have stayed for longer, but we had to press on because we needed to be in Kennacraig for our second ferry by 17.30. We still had around 75 miles to cover, so we got back in the car and began driving towards the small town of Inveraray. We stayed here during our very first Scotland roadtrip in 2010. Today it was just a convenient place for us to stop and get some lunch After lunch we were back in the car to cover the final 40 miles to Kennacraig. We arrived just on time to check in for the ferry and soon we were on our way to the Isle of Islay. There were some great views of the Kintyre peninsula as the ferry pulled out. The journey to the Isle of Islay took 2 hours 20 minutes. The sea was still pretty calm, so it was a pleasant crossing. Eventually we saw the town of Port Ellen appearing on the horizon. It's quite a big town by Islay standards, although it doesn't look huge. We're staying in a cottage I booked via Airbnb, around a 45-minute drive from Port Ellen. We've got a conservatory with amazing sea views! There's also a good-sized kitchen... ...and a cozy living room It's in a fantastic location. And as we were unloading the car, I caught sight of a seal in the water just outside the house I think this is going to be a fun place to stay, even if the weather isn't quite as good as it was on Arran