Scottish Tour Guide's Blog

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Blog Post Oct 2nd. 2015

Today was characterised by continuing good weather albeit less sunny than yesterday.

We departed our lodgings in Bowmore and drove towards Port Askaig stopping at the Islay Woollen Mill, a traditional weaving business on a site dating back to the mid-19th century when the looms were powered by water from the local stream.

Video clip of weaving in process

We toured the Mill and weaving activities, made some purchases at the shop and then moved on to Port Ellen via a single track road which traversed extensive peat banks.

Islay Woollen Mill

Next, to Lagavulin Distillery which was not in production owing to the ‘silent season’. Guests joined the 10.30 Warehouse Demonstration which included five tastings of Lagavulin single malts.

Lagavulin Single Malt, Islay

Lagavulin Distillery, Islay

Next, we embarked on a six mile coastal drive along a narrow road to our destination of the High Cross of Kildalton. On the way we saw common seals basking on rocks and a heron.

High Cross of Kildalton, islay

The High Cross dates from the 8th century and is situated in the grounds of the ancient (and ruined) Old Parish Church of Kildalton. The cross is considered to be one of the finest early Christian crosses in Scotland. Despite weathering, carvings of religious and biblical scenes can be discerned.

KOld Parish Church of kildalton, Islay

Next, we returned along the same road to Ardbeg Distillery (close to Lagavulin).  At Ardbeg we availed of lunch following which guests joined the 2.00pm Deconstructing Tour which lasted over two hours.

Ardbeg Single Malts, Islay

Ardbeg Distillery, islay, Scotland

Upon concluding our visit to Ardbeg we drove to Port Elllen in readiness for the return ferry which departed at 6.00pm. We duly arrived at our overnight lodgings of Stonefield Castle near Tarbert, Loch Fyne.

Port Ellen, Islay, Scotland

Tomorrow, we travel to Glasgow to watch a Scottish Premier League soccer match.

Tarbert Harbour, Loch Fyne, Scotland

This morning, we departed our hotel near Tarbert, Loch Fyne and drove to Luss, Loch Lomond, via Inverarary and Arrochar, a route which took us through Argyll scenery dominated by forests and lochs (lakes) with latter including Loch Fyne, Loch Long and Loch Lomond. Weather conditions were again favourable, albeit less sunshine than yesterday.

Stonefield Castle Hotel, Scotland

View from Stonefield Castle, Scotland

We called in at Luss, on banks of Loch Lomond for a break at midday and encountered a wedding at the popular Luss Parish Church.

Luss Parish Church, Scotland

Next, we drove into Glasgow’s Maryhill district to watch the 3.00pm Scottish Premier League (soccer) match between Partick Thistle and Dundee United both of which clubs languish near the bottom of their league.

Video clip of soccer game

Home fans celebrating goal

Soccer Match

Soccer Match

Soccer Match

This match proved quite entertaining with home team, Partick prevailing 3-0 over their Dundee rivals. Attendance was 3675. An interesting experience allowing us to connect with the passion and culture of the respective supporters.

After the match we returned to Loch Lomond and checked into our lodgings near Luss.

Tomorrow, we visit Auchentoshan distillery before driving north, up the Great Glen, to Inverness.

Tour Guest at Laphroaig Peat Banks, Islay, Scotland

This morning, focus was on Laphroaig . En-route to the distillery we stopped for photos at Laphroaig’s peat reserves and spoke with one of the operatives who pointed out that Laphroaig is the only distillery on Islay which uses hand-cut, as opposed to machine cut, peat for the malting process. Hand cutting results in more water retention which is beneficial in the malting kiln.(See image no 6 below.)

On arrival at Laphroaig guest joined the Distillers Wares Tour which lasted about 2 hrs 30 mins. In addition to visiting the malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation processes this tour included sampling of various single malts and an own bottling.

Laphroaig Peat Stack, Islay, Scotland

Laphroaig Distillery, islay, Scotland

Maturing Whisky at Laphroaig Distillery

Distillation at Laphroaig Distillery, Islay

Fermentation at Laphroaig Distillery, Islay

Malting barley with peat at Laphroaig Distillery, Islay

Malting Floor at Laphroaig Distillery

Upon return to Bowmore in early afternoon one member of the group joined the standard tour of Bowmore Distillery, which lasted about one hour, whilst the other guest was taken on a tour to the nearby island of Jura. This remote and quiet island is home to between 6000 and 7000 Red Deer plus other wildlife. In course of our short tour of Jura we saw small numbers of deer, encountered cattle on the road and were impressed by the stunning and remote scenery.

Jura Distillery, Scotland

Craighouse Harbour, Jura

Strait of Islay from Jura, Scotland

Paps of Jura from Jura Ferry

Highland Cow, Jura, Scotland

Deer, Jura, Scotland

Stag, Jura, Scotland

Tomorrow, we visit Lagavulin and Ardbeg distilleries before returning to the Scottish mainland.