Islay, off the west coast of Scotland and part of the Inside Hebrides, is filled with different interest and charm. Owing to its position in the trail of the gulf stream, the local weather is extremely mild, and vegetation is in consequence wealthy and stunning. There will not be many bushes save in sheltered locations, however the expansion of underwood, of ferns and of wild flowers is luxuriant and types a marked characteristic of this delightful island.
The variety of surroundings is nice, alongside the coast particularly, where bold headlands and reefs of volcanic rock alternate with stretches of sand-hills and turf. The great lochs which nearly reduce the island in two have beauties of their very own, Loch Indaal studded with villages which almost recall those of the Italian lakes, and Loch Gruinart with its sand flats stretching far away northward to the place the tides of the Sound of Islay and the Atlantic waves meet in never-ending strife.
In Bowmore, the island’s essential centre, the Mactaggart Leisure Centre contains a excellent swimming pool, sauna and fitness gym. Adjacent is Morrisons Bowmore Distillery, one of many eight working distilleries on Islay. Other distilleries of fame are Bruichladdich, Caol Ila, Bunnahabhain, Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig. All of them supply guided tours, some on appointment solely. Bowmore well-known Spherical Church stands at the top of Major Avenue, overlooking the village.
If the hills seem humble when compared to the neighbouring peaks of Jura, they are not with out a sure grandeur, affording good walks and marvellous views; and as most of the lochs are nicely stocked with trout, Islay has sights for the fisherman. In fact the traveller, whatever be his particular pursuit, could do worse than spend a couple of summer season days at one of the snug resorts and cottages which the island boasts. But is is to the ever growing class of persons who take an interest in the relics of early instances that Islay affords some of the best sights.
Islay’s written historical past is fragmentary and the monuments of her past aren’t any less so; however for all that, they lengthen over a lengthened period, from the times of hill forts and standing monoliths till later times when, in the nice days of the Western Church, the island grew to become lined with chapels, under whose defending partitions there are still to be seen most of the exquisite crosses and gravestones which kind so peculiar and interesting characteristic of the Western Highlands.
There are about 100 examples of carved work (carved stones, graveslabs and Celtic Crosses) on Islay alone. Many of those are a lot worn and defaced that only indications of their designs may be traced, however the remainder are of the greatest curiosity, some indeed being works of artwork within the fullest sense of the term.
The stones belong to Cheap Stone Island varied durations. There are little crossed rudely minimize on undressed slabs of stone, and these are probably essentially the most ancient. Then in the crosses of Kildalton and Kilnave, and within the cross-bearing slab found at Doid Mhairi, now within the garden at Ardimersay, there are examples of a mode which appears to have been directly derived from Ireland; but far the greater number belong to the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries, when the artwork assumed and retained its special Argyllshire character, the plated work of the Irish monuments developing into the richly foliated scrolls which type certainly one of the great beauties of the West Highland carving.