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A rich blend of history and whisky

Islay’s Three Distilleries Path
Port Ellen in the south of Islay

It’s dark, dreich and blowing a gale. The clocks have gone back and the nights are drawing in. It’s not exactly the weather to tempt you out of doors. On the other hand, it can be a time to start planning for spring, for the better weather and longer days. So if you’re sitting comfortably with your iScot magazine, let me offer you a suggestion for a perfect day out. Imagine exploring the rugged beauty of a Scottish island, uncovering its intriguing and often turbulent history, rounded off by Scotland’s finest, a dram of single malt whisky. Sound appealing? Then the island of Islay and the Three Distilleries Path could be just the place for you.

Islay isn’t known as the “Queen of the Hebrides” without good reason

Running from the little town of Port Ellen to Ardbeg this new path is a safe, traffic-free, 5km route for walkers and cyclists. Along the way you can visit Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg distilleries, sample their delights then return to Port Ellen in safety. But there’s more to the Three Distilleries Path than this. You won’t just sample the delights of some of Islay’s finest malts, you’ll also have the opportunity to discover aspects of the island’s rich culture and history. And Islay isn’t known as the “Queen of the Hebrides” without good reason.

The Croft Walk

The Path starts at the gates of Port Ellen Primary School and heads east towards Laphroaig, the first of the three distilleries. But why not start by taking the Croft Walk spur up towards Kilbride Farm. Scottish islands are noticeably rocky and our pre-historic ancestors made good use of this, erecting megaliths and chambered cairns galore. And right away you’ll see an impressive 16-foot standing stone, with another one atop the hill. You have to wonderwhat motivated people to go to such an effort. What were they trying to say? Were they trying to appease some feared deity? Were they creating enormous sun dials? We can speculate, but ultimately it’s still a mystery.

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iScot Magazine November 2017