As regular visitors to Islay over the last 10 or so years my friends and I have been very impressed by and grateful for the development of the footpath from Port Ellen along the Southern coast of the island. This usefully links Port Ellen and its distillery (once reopened) with the distilleries at Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg, and will, of course provide pedestrian access to the new distillery of Farkin when construction is completed close to Laphroaig.
Even the original manifestation of the path as a rough ’hard-core’ track made walking this route much safer, (particularly on the way back!). Now that the route is asphalted it is a fine surface to walk on and is even more appreciated.
Several times our group has caught an early bus from Bowmore to Ardbeg. We then visit each distillery as we wander the 3 or so miles back to Port Ellen in time to catch a late afternoon bus back to Bowmore. A very satisfying day out.
I understand that plans are now well advanced for a footway from Bruichladdich to Port Charlotte. This 2 mile stretch currently has no footpath and the walk is therefore less appealing. Perhaps Bruichladdich distillery will consider some attraction or other development at the Port Charlotte end. Easier and safer access to the Port Charlotte Hotel from Bruichladdich will however be sufficient justification for this new pathway.
It is rumoured that discussions are also underway regarding a similar path to the North of the island. Although much less developed at present the plan would be to link Port Askaig to the distilleries at Caol Ila, Ardnahoe, (once commissioned) and Bunnahabhain. At 3-4 miles, this route would be slightly longer than the Southern pathway but still a highly valuable asset in terms of safely and enjoyably accessing these locations. Perhaps a bus route to Bunnahabhain would mean only having to walk one way.
All in all, I and I’m sure many others will applaud the initiative of the development of these pathways. I look forward to seeing them being well used as the whisky industry on Islay goes from strength to strength in the coming years.