|A rainy Sunday
||[Jun. 26th, 2016|09:47 pm]
What do you do on Islay, on Sunday, when it's raining? No, that's a silly question: you can always visit a distillery - there are eight of them, and not all are open on Sunday, but some are. But if you visited a distillery on Saturday, plan to visit more on Monday, and would prefer to take a break from distilleries on Sunday, then what do you do?
We started off by driving through the Port Ellen maltings and round the bay to look at the lighthouse:
You can walk right up to it, and we did - or durham_rambler did, though I hung back from the last bit of the causeway (In these shoes? - I don't think so!) and admired its double square towers, and watched the swallows swooping down to the seaweed on the strand. But I like this picture, taken from where the road runs out, because it shows the soft mist: it looks like the thinnest veil, but Port Ellen, back across the bay, had vanished.
It wasn't actually raining yet, and I decided to walk back as far as the old cemetery, along the shore where these oystercatchers were making a terrific racket. I do not know how small birds can produce so much volume from their little chests.
By the time we had explored the cemetery to our satisfaction, it was beginning to rain, and our feet were soaked from walking through wet grass. Time to move on, pausing only to say hello to a family of Highland cattle standing by the gate of a field. A narrow road led to the Mull of Oa (which is, of course, the highest point of the Oa peninsula, and a serious nature reserve) and we had fun backing up to allow oncoming traffic to pass: I had for once as close a view as I could desire of the orchids growing by the ditch at the side of the road). At the top, visibility was effectively nil, and I let durham_rambler go and read the information board to find out what we could have hoped to see, if we could have seen anything at all (golden eagles!), while I stayed in the car and listened to Paul Merton riffing wildly on Just a Minute.
Plan A had been to try lunching at the airport café, but this was closed, so we went on to Bowmore and ended up at the Harbour Inn (I see that I was right to suspect that it is part of the Bowmore Distillery's empire). As a restaurant the Harbour Inn has its strengths and weaknesses, but it must offer the cheapest dram of Bowmore 12-year-old on the island: less than £3 if you order it as a supplement to your dish of oysters. Moreover, durham_rambler points out, if you order not a dozen oysters but two half dozens, you'll get two drams for almost exactly the same price. It's a pity I don't like oysters.
We bought an evening picnic at the Co-op: if I had any means of heating them, I would totally have bought the haggis pakoras. Then more driving down minor roads, to the southern tip of the island, where seals are reputed to hang out in the harbour, another lighthouse lurks in the mist on its own island, and a walk around the headland would have been very inviting on a drier day (I don't even ask for sunshine). More wildlife encounters on the way home, braking for suicidal sparrows, for a small rabbit, for a larger one that might have been a sheep but probably wasn't - and sheep, of course, many sheep. One last stop: we noticed an information board, and pulled over to take a look, just beside this stream full of wild irises:
The Maclellan familly of Kilchiaran Farm welcomed us to walk across their land either to Kilchoman, where we had been yesterday, or to Machir Bay. They didn't mention the radar station. But it wasn't a day for walking, so we came back to the hotel. Tomorrow's plans do involve some walking, so I'm hoping for better weather.