Scottish Tour Guide's Blog

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Hiking Group on Kaim Hill, Scotland

Today, I joined a thirty strong hiking group which covered an area of North Ayrshire, close to Largs and Fairlie which afforded superb high elevation views of the Firth of Clyde (bay or estuary where the River Clyde enters the sea), Largs and its marina, islands known as Great Cumbrae and Little Cumbrae plus stunning views of snow-capped mountains on the Isle of Arran opposite.

Isle of Arran and Firth of Clyde, Scotland

After many days of rain and cloudy weather, we benefited from a sudden switch to bright sunlight and warm temperatures of around 14C/57F which served to transform landscape views.

Video clip of Isle of Arran and Firth of Clyde.

The hike took about 5 hrs 30 mins and entailed a climb to the peak of Kaim Hill which sits at 1271 feet. In course of the hike we encountered:

  • A paraglider.

Paraglider coming into land at Fairlie, Scotland

  • Sheep and cattle.

Sheep, Kaim Hill, Scotland

  • Primroses emerging into flower.

Primroses on Kaim Hill, Scotland

  • Gorse in flower.

Gorse in flower on Kaim Hill, Scotland

  • Gorges and mountain streams.

Mountain Stream on Kaim Hill, Scotland

  • A defunct quarry which formerly produced high quality millstones for sale in Britain, West Indies and Australia.

Millstone at Kaim Hill Quarry, Scotland

  • A windfarm

Hiking group with Kelburn Windfarm in background

  • Fairlie Castle, a 15th century Tower House undergoing restoration.

Fairlie Castle undergoing restoration

  • A flat sheet of rock containing multiple cup and ring marks (man-made carvings) which may date from the Neolithic period, about 5000 years ago.

Multiple cup and ring marks on Kaim Hill, Scotland. (Plastic bottle for scale.)

Cup and Ring Mark on Kaim Hill, Scotland

The landscape was wet and boggy populated with heather, grasses and mosses.

Kaim Hill Landscape, Scotland.

Dingwall and Cromarty Firth, Scotland.

This evening, I am posting information on the town of Dingwall, which lies about 14 miles N.W. of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands close to the southern tip of the Cromarty Firth

Summary facts and information as follows:

Dingwall Skyline

  • Population about 5500.
  • Name is of Scandinavian (Viking) origin and is derived from thing vollr or ‘field of the court of justice’.
  • Reputedly the site of the Battle of Dingwall in 1411 when Clan Mackay fought Clan Donald.
  • Served by a number of churches including Dingwall Free, Castle Street and St Clement’s.
  • Long tradition of providing recruits for the British military including Seaforth Highlanders and other units. There is a memorial to casualties of the Boer War in addition to a separate memorial for WW1 and WW2.

Dingwall War Memorial

  • Towering over Dingwall is a monument to Major-General Hector MacDonald, a soldier from the local area who had a stellar military career rising through the ranks but committed suicide in 1903 due to unfounded rumours concerning his sexual proclivities.

Hector MacDonald Monument, Dingwall, Scotland.

  • The town benefits from three supermarkets and a pedestrianized High Street.
  • To the N.W. of Dingwall is a mountain known as Ben Wyvis (‘Hill of Terror’) which reaches a height of 3432 feet.
  • Interesting places nearby include Strathpeffer, Muir of Ord and Beauly.

Dingwall Town Hall

Islay Whisky Shop, Bowmore

Islay is an island of Scotland’s West Coast which has achieved world status as a whisky producer. Currently, there are eight producing distilleries most of which have Gaelic names.

Helped by an abundant supply of peat (decayed vegetation which can be used as fuel) and water, Islay produces a range of classic malts from the following distilleries:

Ardbeg  (‘Little Height or Promontory’) – Founded 1815, located at Port Ellen and owned by Glenmorangie. Uses a malted barley with a high phenol content and sources peaty water from Loch Uigeadail, about one mile from the distillery. Output includes a 10-year-old (46pct and non-chill filtered) and a 17-year-old (40pct. and blended from a range of Ardbeg expressions).

Ardbeg Single Malts, Islay

Ardbeg Distillery, Islay, Scotland

Bowmore (‘Sea Reef or Sea Rock’) – Founded 1779, located at Bowmore and owned by Suntory of Japan. Sources water from the peaty River Laggan and cuts local peat for its traditional floor maltings. Uses four onion shaped stills for distillation. Output includes Bowmore Legend (40pct and 8-10 year old), a 12-year-old (40 pct.) and a 15-year-old ( 43pct).

Bowmore Single Malts, Islay

Bowmore Distillery, Islay

Bruichladdich (‘Brae of the Shore’) – Founded 1881, located at Bruichladdich and privately owned. Uses spring water with a high peat content. The malts, which are produced un chill-filtered, include a 10-year-old (46pct), a 15-year-old (46pct.) and a 20-year-old (46pct.).

Whisky Stills at Bruichladdich, Islay

Bruichladdich Single Malts

Bruichladdich Distillery, Islay

Bunnahabhain (‘River Mouth’) – Founded 1881, located at Port Askaig and owned by Burns Stewart. Unusually for Islay, this distillery produces an unpeated malt which sources its water from the Margadale Spring. The spirit, which is distilled in four onion shaped stills, is mainly used in blends. Principal product is the 12-year-old at 40pct.

Bunnahabhain Single Malts, Islay

Bunnahabhain Distillery, Islay

Caol Ila (‘Sound of Islay’) – Founded 1846, located at Port Askaig and owned by major drinks conglomerate, Diageo. Sources water from Loch nam Ban about one mile away and distills using six onion shaped stills. Historically the product has been extensively used in blending. Principal single malt is the 15-year-old (43pct.).

Caol Ila Single Malts, Islay

Caol Ila Distillery, Islay

Kilchoman (‘St. Comman’s Church’) – First new distillery on Islay for 124 years, located about five miles west of Bruichladdich, close to Atlantic Ocean. Privately owned. First whisky (three-year old) produced 2009.

Kilchoman Single Malts, Islay

Kilchoman Distillery, Islay

Lagavulin (‘Mill Hollow’) – A sister distillery to Caol Ila which was founded 1817, located at Port Ellen and owned by drinks conglomerate, Diageo. Sources water high in peat content from a stream flowing from Solan Lochs situated north of the distillery and distills with four, broad necked stills. Output includes Lagavulin 16-year-old (43pct.) and Lagavulin 1979 Distiller’s Edition (43pct.)

Lagavulin Single Malts, Islay

Lagavulin Distillery, Islay

Laphroaig (‘A Cave’) – Founded 1815, located at Port Ellen and owned by Allied Domecq. Malts barley on site with locally cut peat and sources water from the Kilbride dam. This malt is famed for its raw, pungent taste. Principal malts include a 10-year-old (40pct.), 10-year-old cask strength (57.3pct.) and a 15-year-old (43pct.)

Laphroaig Single Malts, Islay

Laphroaig Distillery, Islay