Italy & Scotland - Summer 2009 travel blog

Riding the ferry from the mainland to Islay. It was cold and...

Small, stone cottage in which fishing families still live along the Sound...

Many of the Lochs (Lakes) are directly connected to the sea and...

Life in Islay is much like it has been lived for centuries....

Sheep have the right-of-way on the narrow roads of Islay.

Roads on Islay are one lane with even narrower bridges built in...

Rustic entrance to the weaving mill, built in the mid-1800's and still...

We had a wonderful tour by the owner and weaver. They import...

The old wool weaving mill on Islay which used to be powered...

The weaving machine in action.

The Mill is still weaving wool... I bought a pull-over jacket made...

Ancient stone outcropping jutting up in the Ardhahoe Loch nest to the...

This charming farm house is a commune of craftsman and artists making...

This woman in the artist community is spinning wool she sheared from...

These are walking sticks made with deer antler handles. I bought the...

Beautiful land for a slower pace of living... one could easily relax...

A typical seen... lush green grass, rugged stone outcropping and lots of...

Throughout Islay, you are never far from the sea.

The Thistle... not just the national flower of Scotland, but a symbol...


The Isle of Islay (pronounced eye-la)is a small island in the southern tip of the Inner Hebrides. It is only about 12 miles wide and 30 miles long with three main paved roads. There are 8 distilleries (see entry on Whisky), about 3 towns each with a population of perhaps 200, numerous villages (some with only 3 houses) and lots of green grass and sheep.

Economically, Islay depends on it whisky production and the tourism it brings. Also, the wool sheep herding. I understand that the Islay black-faced sheep produce a course wool used primarily in rugs and carpet. There is one Wool Weaving Mill (pictures attached) that imports softer wool from the mainland and makes plaid, wool cloth for making kilts, jackets, scarves, blankets and just about anything else you would want woolen plaid for. We toured this and also visited an artist commune that makes some wonderful crafts.

The most fascinating part of the visit was the ancient history. This starts from the stone age with artifacts dating as far back as 10,800 BCE. We visited a monolith, erected 5,000 years ago in about 3,000 BCE. We also saw two church yards that contained ancient Celtic crosses and graves of knights dating as far back as 1250 AD (CE). We also visited the ruins of two ancient castles, including the Finlaggan ruins which was a strong hold for the Lord of the Isles… a Celtic ruler that controlled the Inner Hebrides Islands from 1300 through about 1500. I have made separate diary entries for all of these.

There is a great review of the island in Wikipedia if you are interested in more details:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islay



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