Sunday, 13 October 2013


I will set the scene. I am on a day ride around western Islay. I am looking over a wide view and the sun is shining gloriously. To my right is Loch Gruinart famous among bird lovers for vast numbers of wading birds while behind can be seen the Paps of Jura, a spectacular mountain range on a neighbouring island. In front is Loch Gorm while beyond is Machair Bay where eagles fly. To my right is a whisky distillery.
Islay has eight whisky distilleries and nature so spectacular that it is hard to believe. Moreover cycling is easy by Scottish standards with few hills and very polite drivers.

I met several people who were determined to visit as many distilleries as possible. It is not just Scots and English fascinated by Islay's distilleries as people were coming from Sweden, Germany, France, USA and Spain to name a few.
As for nature, it feels like Islay is a little part of heaven. In fact if you are a whisky drinking naturalist who loves cycling it would be hard to leave this island. On 9 October, 32,000 barnacle geese arrived from Greenland via Iceland. They joined white fronted geese, brent geese, numerous waders, vast numbers of tiddly size birds and various birds of prey including the occasional white tailed eagle which is Britain's largest bird. The corncrakes had just left for South Africa.
As for the scenery, it is as good as anywhere in the Hebrides. It is more gentle on the legs for cycling as there less hills. It has magical machair beaches, a spectacular rocky coastline, fine little white washed houses in the villages and plenty of open moorland. Oh, the motorists are very polite to cyclists and this is another attribute in common with elsewhere in the Hebrides. Here is a small selection of images.

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