Tag Archives: island

Isle of Skye South

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The south of Skye  and the Kyle of Lochalsh hove into sight as you descend the A87 from Invergarry and what could more iconic than Eilean Donan Castle coming into view on the shores of Loch Alsh.

The Skye Bridge has negated the need for a ferry ‘over the sea to Skye’ but the song still rings in your ears as you take the journey over from Kyle of Lochalsh to Kyleakin and on to Broadford, one of the main towns on Skye.

The south of Skye is home to the famous Cuillin hills and across the Cuillin Sound, the Small Isles are clearly visible with Rum the largest of them.

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Arran

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Isle of Arran

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KNOWN as ‘Scotland in Miniature’, Arran is a condensed version of the best that Scotland has to offer. Arran is one of the most easily accessible islands as it is only a 55-minute crossing from Ardrossan to Brodick. The Claonaig to Lochranza ferry service from Kintyre makes the island easily accessible from the Highlands and islands as well.

Drumadoon Bay

The north end of the island is covered in high peaks perfect for climbing enthusiasts.

Many argue that the most peaceful area of Arran is the south of the island, compromising the villages of Kildonan, Kilmory, Lagg and Sliddery. They share some fantastic beaches; big sandy bays as well as interesting rock pools.

Whether you are looking to escape for a weekend, have an action-packed break or just uncover the hidden delights, there is something here for everyone.

Kildonan Castle

Arran is a wonderful place to holiday.

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Arran Villages

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Brodick name

Three of the largest villages on Arran are on the east coast of the island, comprising Brodick, Lamlash and Whiting Bay.

Brodick, meaning ‘broad bay’ from its Norse roots Breiðvík, is the largest village, overlooked by Arran’s highest peak Goat Fell and the first place visitors see when the embark from the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry from Ardrossan. Like the rest of the island, Brodick is a popular holiday destination and a good base for hill-walking.

There are many family-owned and independent hotels, restaurants, shops, bed and breakfast establishments, guest houses and outdoor activities.

There is also a brewery, a sports and leisure complex and an 18-hole golf course. And of course there’s the National Trust for Scotland-owned Brodick Castle, the previous seat of the Duke of Hamilton where there has been a fortress of some sort or another since the fifth century. As well as the castle, there’s walled garden dating from 1710 which has been restored as a Victorian garden. The country park surrounding the castle has trails, woodlands, waterfalls, gorges, wildlife ponds and more.

Lamlash nameLamlash is Arran’s second largest village, just three miles from Brodick and looks out to the Holy Isle, owned by the Samye Ling Buddhist Community, who belong to the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. It has the bigger population as well as the only secondary school and hospital on Arran.

Lamlash also is home to a variety of hotels, restaurants and bed and breakfast establishments. Entertainment abounds all year round, including the arts festival, open studios, Santa’s Sparkle, musical festival and more. Lamlash Bay itself is popular with sailors and a haven for outdoor activities.

Whiting Bay signAnother three miles south from  Lamlash is the picturesque Whiting Bay, thought to have derived from ‘Viking Bay’. It is the third largest village on Arran, and a good place for some easy walking with everything from the Glenashdale Falls and the Giants Graves’ within easy walking distance – and a golf course too! While there are many more magical spots to discover on Arran, these three villages are a good place to start.

 

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Brodick Bay seals
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Mull

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Isle of Mull

One of the largest of the Hebridean islands, the Isle of Mull offers a diverse terrain from towering 1,000 foot high sea cliffs to white sand beaches, forests and glens, where wildlife abounds.
Although the island coastline covers some 300 miles there are less than 3,000 people living on Mull, with the island’s capital town of Tobermory accounting for nearly 1,000 of those.

Mull has for many years been acknowledged as a holiday island.

Steeped in Celtic and Viking folklore and amid spectacular scenery, the island is also widely recognised as a centre for eco-tourism, with Golden and White Tailed Eagles, dolphins and basking sharks, deer, otters and puffins among the star attractions.
Reaching Mull is relatively simple – with very regular car ferries making the 45-minute crossing from Oban. Alternatively, there are also ferry links with Lochaline and Kilchoan. Accommodation is plentiful and ranges from modern hotels to comfortable bed and breakfast within local homes or self-catering establishments, campsites, hostels and bunkhouses.
For the younger visitor, Tobermory will still be recognised as the setting for children’s television town Balamory.

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Islay South

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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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Islay North

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Islay North is steeped in clan history as well as being home to the Royal Society for Protection of Birds nature reserve and farm at Loch Gruinart. The nature reserve is an important place for migrating birds – including 45 per cent of the world’s population of Greenland barnacle geese in winter –  and other wildlife, from butterflies to otters and hares to seals.

Finlaggan was the administrative centre of the Lordship of the Isles in the 1300-1400s.

The story can be followed at the Finlaggan Visitor Centre, while the ruined Kilnave Chapel overlooks the scene of a bloody clan battle between the McDonalds and MacLeans.

Five of the island’s eight distilleries can be found in the north, as well as the other main ferry port of Port Askaig. The Gaelic language has a strong presence on the island and Bowmore is home to Ionad Chaluim Chille Ìle, the Galeic language and culture centre.

Compared to Jura, neighbouring Islay is overcrowded; there are only 180 people living on Jura but lots and lots more deer.

The island has a small village, Craighouse, and its west coast has no full-time inhabitants.
Jura is dominated by its three magnificent mountains, the Paps of Jura: Beinn an Oir Beinn Shiantaidh and Beinn a’ Chaolais, they can be seen as far away as Northern Ireland in the south and Skye in the north.

To the north of Jura lies the Gulf of Corryvreckan where, tidal conditions produce a whirlpool classed as the third largest in the world. The waves can reach 30 feet and the roar of the waters can be heard up to 10 miles away.

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Mull & Iona

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Iona

Follow in St Columba’s footsteps and visit the tiny island of Iona.
The abbey buildings were restored and today are the centre of a thriving Christian community but the nunnery remains a haunting ruin.

Every year thousands of people visit the island which welcomes them all and still retains its tranquillity. Perhaps it’s the white beaches which on a summer’s day could trick you into thinking they’re Mediterranean.
Iona is the birthplace of Scottish Christianity and the resting place of Scottish kings in its graveyard.
Today the island is home to a small but thriving population and offers excellent accommodation, eating places and a new craft centre.

You can walk the island in a day or take one of the sea trips to Staffa and Fingal’s Cave or perhaps stay a little longer to soak up some of that peacefulness.

This map also takes a closer look at the villages of  Salen and Tobermory in the north, Craignure in the east, where the ferry from Oban arrives and Bunessan and Fionnphort in the south, the latter being the village from which Iona is reached by ferry.

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Argylls Secret Coast & Bute

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IT IS often claimed that there is a special magical aura around Scottish islands;  the Isle of Bute, which nestles in the Firth of Clyde, is no exception to that claim.

Believed to have been named after beacon fires from the Norse for fire ‘Bót’, the island was also known by the Vikings as ‘Rothesay’ –  later to become the name of the only town on the island.

Divided in two by the Highland boundary fault line, the island is least populated in the north, with its hills and forest, while the south is more cultivated apart from the southern most part.

With its proximity to the mainland, Bute has always been a favourite destination for visitors and two ferry services make it one of the easiest islands to get to. In the north, it is connected via Rhubodach to the mainland at Colintraive by a crossing that is barely 300 metres (330yards) and takes just minutes.

The main crossing from the mainland at Wemyss Bay takes travellers into Rothesay, the island’s town. Rothesay is close to beautiful beaches such as Kilchattan Bay, three golf courses and the Victorian splendour of Mount Stuart, a Gothic palace with some of the finest gardens in Europe.

Bute has a vibrant social scene and a number of popular annual events, including the Isle of Bute Jazz Festival, and is a popular place for walkers and cyclists.

Bute

 

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