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Islay’s not called the Queen of the Hebrides for nothing and she’s been home to people since 8,000BC. They knew they were on to a good thing; even today the Gulf Stream keeps the climate mild compared to the mainland.
A remarkable history, breathtaking scenery and eight distilleries, what more could an island want?
Many of today’s visitors are the feathered kind, earning Islay a reputation as a bird watching destination; huge flocks of migrating Barnacle Geese arrive each year and the island is home to an important colony of the now rare chough.
The lochs are teeming with brown trout and the island has hosted major fishing competitions.
The southern half of this majestic island is home to Port Ellen, founded in 1821 by Walter Frederick Campbell, then Laird of Islay who called the village after his wife Eleanor.
Its deep water harbour is one of two ferry ports on the island; the other is at Port Askaig in the north. Port Ellen Distillery closed in 1983 but Port Ellen Maltings continues to dominate the skyline.
Along the south coast are three of the island’s remaining working distilleries, Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg.
Strategically placed around the sea loch Loch Indaal are the picturesque villages of Portnahaven, Port Wemyss and Port Charlotte, on the west side, while on the east shore is the other centre of population of Bowmore.
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