fresco feast. it is worth driving to Bowmore for a truly enjoyable shopping experience. The baker sells freshly baked bread and the award winning butcher sells chicken. steaks and imaginative sausages. all of which taste delicious on an open fire. Across the road the Whisky Shop stocks a good selection of wine so there is absolutely no need to panic shop before leaving lidinburgh or (ilasgow. The (‘o-op in Bowmore even sells lemon grass and fresh chilli. Locally caught fish is slightly harder to come by. After several attempts to find the fish van 1 tracked down a local fisherman and put in a request for lobster and crab which we collected at the Port lillen pier. If you are thinking of doing that it is worth bringing a large pan as trying to cook live lobster in your standard pan is no joke.

Sitting watching the fabulous sunset on

the beach at Kintra. the only signs of

civilisation are the distant lights of Port Charlotte and Poitnahaven across the bay. I love the fact that the landscape hasn‘t changed for centuries and it is easy to imagine the Viking Longships which are said to have landed there. Much as I hate to quote a TV series starring Michelle Collins. the phrase ‘2000 acres of sky‘ is a perfect description of a l'lebridean island. In lslay the lack of buildings and even high hills means that you can see the horizon in almost every direction and when bad weather is coming in you see it long before it reaches you. There is no need to obsess about weather forecasts. lslay has its own microclimate and you often experience every season in one day. Layering is the key to holiday wear there. I have often started a walk in a fleece and waterproofs and ended in shorts and a bikini top. It is said that the

island is on the gulf stream and that may well explain the presence of palm trees in some of the villages but do not rely on it to

make the water any warmer. In the height of

summer the sheltered bays of Kilnaughton and Singing Sands just beyond the lighthouse are great for swimming but the only way to guarantee a swim in really warm water is to head for the Bowmore pool. built in an old whisky warehouse with eco friendly water heated by Bowmore distillery.

If you can be persuaded to leave the beach the lslay golf club welcomes beginners eager to practice their swing far from the amused gaze of other players. More experienced golfers are welcome to join in the Machrie ()pen. which is hosted at the stunning links course every May. For those tormented Hunter S 'l‘hompson types. fishing in all its forms is possible in lslay. whether off the rocks at Kintra. fly fishing with a permit in one of the many l.ochs on the island or chattering a boat for a day. It is also possible to do shooting. though only with clay pigeons. at (‘oultoon liarm near l’ortnahaven. A less testosterone—fuelled option is the beach rides which are offered by the two trekking centres on the island. one at Machir Bay on the West (‘oast (Rockside liarm) and one at Kilnaughton (Ballivicar) although they can be persuaded to take experienced riders to the longer beach at Kintra.

lslay is perfection. The fresh air is exhilarating. the breathtaking landscape and the compulsion to be outside whatever the weather is ovenvhelming. l have travelled all over the world but never have I felt so relaxed and away from it all than when I am on that beautiful island sandwiched between Kintyre and Northern Ireland.



Fiona Brown/ee's top tips. . .

architecture alone.

I The annual Malt and Music Festival will run from 29th May - 6th June 2004. Each distillery has an open day during the festival and the programme includes golf competitions, guided walks, a piping recital, a blues night and numerous ceilidhs. www.islayfestival.org or www.morrisonbowmore.co.uk

I Accommodation: Kintra Farm 01490 302051. Wild coastal walks and seven mile sandy beach. 8&8. cottages or camping. lf being within

to you the Port Charlotte llotel 01400 850800 on the other side of the island

over loch Indaal.

I Getting there: By ferry from Kennacraig to Port Ellen/Port Askaig. Call Caledonian MacBrayne on 08705 650000 or book on line at www.calmac. co.uk. Citylink buses from Glasgow connect with some of the ferries www.citylink.co.uk. Flights from Glasgow to lslay take 35 minutes with BA Express/Loganair. Call 0845 77999977. Cars can be hired on the island.

I l or further information contact the Tourist Office on Bowmore 01/190 810254 e mail: llil()i(1)l§3l£ly.\’lSll

spitting distance of a bar is important offers good accommodation.

Eating: In addition to the local produce scotlandcom on sale in Bowmore. fresh oysters can be bought from Craigens farm in Gruinart (01490 850956) and locally produced beer is available from the new microbrewery in Bridgend twww.islayalescom).

My favourite place for lunch is the the Old Kiln Cafe at Ardbeg distillery but the Croft Kitchen in Port Charlotte is also a good option. For dinner the pest place to go is the Harbour Inn at Bowmore which has fabulous Views

I There is so much to do Outside it is almost a shame to go indoors but in terrible weather the Museum of lslay

l ife at Port Charlotte reveals what life has been like on the island over the centuries. The lslay Woollen Mill at Bridgend. which supplied the cloth for Brave/ieart. demonstrates weaving techniques and the Gaelic College at Bowmore is worth a Visit for its

'/‘.’ Maj. ‘(Y .liir‘ THE LIST 113