Excerpts from issue 42/18 27 June 2015

prince charles visit to islay
Lord of the Isles

Mickey Heads, Manager of Ardbeg distillery with HRH Prince Charles during a wet morning visit to celebrate Ardbeg's 200th anniversary. He later visited Laphroaig distillery who are also celebrating 200 years.

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Kilchoman distillery to purchase Rockside farm

Kilchoman Distillery Company Limited has agreed to buy Rockside Farm on the Isle of Islay from the current owners.
After more than 30 years on Islay, the current owners Mark and Rohaise French have decided to sell Rockside Farm in order to pursue new opportunities off the island, including spending more time with their four grown-up children, who now all have families of their own.
Mark French said: "It has been a wonderful privilege to live at Rockside, for the children to have grown up in this idyllic part of the world, and to have seen the distillery become the success it is today." Anthony Wills, Managing Director of Kilchoman Distillery commented: "We have always been proud to produce whisky from barley to bottle and the purchase of Rockside Farm secures this vision for the future".
Rockside Farm will run as normal until the property changes hands at the end of November 2015.

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New skiff launched

Kirsten Laurie writes:
Islay Rowing Club is going from strength to strength with the launch of its fifth St. Ayles skiff. Last Friday, amidst the usual bustle of Beach Rugby weekend, the community gathered as the latest addition to the fleet took to the water in grand style from the new pontoons in Port Ellen bay.
The honours were overseen by Iain Smith who gave an informative and entertaining account of rowing on Islay from where it all began with the efforts of the Lagavulin Fundraisers, the infamous Pillaged Malts and the Isis boats, to the subsequent establishment of Islay Rowing Club and the present day.
The new boat was christened the Bonnie Anne in memory of the late Anne Farrell and she was launched by Anne's grand-daughter, Annie Farrell, accompanied by the Farrell family.
She was built by Rodney 'Blod' Morrison and Ross Murray with help from Jack Glover and assistance from lots of other club members, family and friends who spent long hours working away enthusiastically in Ross's shed.
Appropriately, the Bonnie Anne is the 101st St Ayles skiff to be registered with the Scottish Coastal Rowing Association, an extremely fitting coincidence given her birthplace within the notorious 101 Club. The Bonnie Anne is available to row by everyone in the community. We would like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who's interested to become involved. It is a very inclusive sport suitable for all age groups and abilities. Nationally, it is a fast╩growing sport and social pastime with plenty of opportunity to meet new people locally and mix with other clubs across the country.
The local Islay Club races are well under way. So far this year three competitions have been held, two in Port Ellen and the most recent, in Ardbeg. The ladies competition is a close run thing between the Devilish Damsels and the Dolly Mixtures. At present it is two to the Devils and one to the Dollies but all to play for with the Hills Angels also still in play. The men's competition is being led by Portnahaven with Port Wemyss, Old Crocks and the Tornados pushing them all the way.
If you want to become involved in the rowing, check out our Facebook page or come along to the open rowing sessions held weekly across the island; Sunday, 5pm at Bruichladdich pier, Wednesday, 6pm at Port Ellen pontoons and Friday, 6pm at Bowmore pier. Our next event is the Islay Rowing Club regatta on Saturday 4 July starting at 5pm.

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The Hebrides by Peter Edwards. Cicerone Press softback. 251pp illus. £18.99
the hebrides

We are fortunate enough to be living at the southernmost point of possibly the most beautiful and rugged stretch of broken coastline in Europe, if not the world. The Hebrides stretch from The Oa, Islay all the way up to the Butt of Lewis, taking in 36 inhabited islands, and one or two that aren't. Though just a bit of a stretch, it also includes the wayward isle of St. Kilda.
Author Peter Edwards has compiled an excellent selection of walking and backpacking routes across the majority of those islands, offering choices for the more intrepid as well as the slightly lackadaisical. He seems personally well acquainted with the conditions that might be encountered when attempting any of these walks, as witnessed by the opening paragraph of his introduction.
"...a week-long midwinter trip to South Uist, most memorable for the 100mph gales blowing sheep past the windows of our rented cottage."
It would be impossible to have one without the other; scenic drama such as pervades every one of the Hebridean islands doesn't just happen by itself. Edwards pays more than just lip service to this weather and glacial sculpting of Scotland's west coast, providing a comprehensive, yet commendably brief history of our part of the world from its initial formation up till the present day.
He also details the history of the population and an overview of the wildlife to be found across this wide expanse bordering the North Atlantic Ocean.
Very much in the book's favour and making it as much the armchair guide as it is a step by step narrative, are the copious number of excellent images illustrating each walk. If you were unaware of the topographical drama harboured within the islands, you won't be by the time you've finished.
The three routes on Islay comprise a walk to Rhuvaal from Bunnahabhain, a circular route at Ardnave and a rather more strenuous outing from Ballygrant over to the Sound of Islay returning via Bheinn Bheigier and Glas Bheinn. Each route is accompanied by a note of the start and finishing points, total distance and climbing, as well as an approximation of the time involved.
Helpfully, the author has also provided a description of the terrain encountered and which OS Landranger maps might be a prudent purchase. However, though I cannot speak for the walks on other islands, I figure I could confidently undertake Islay's three using the map, illustrations and description provided.
If outdoor activity is your passion, or simply a feature of the occasional weekend, The Hebrides would be a highly recommended purchase.

bp

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NEXT ISSUE ON SALE 11 July 2015

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islay info

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islay community council

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Islay Diary 2015

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