Day 2 on Islay dawned beautifully – a red sky not bringing rain but more warm, sunny weather.
It was time for the Mull of Oa hike taking in also Beinn Mhor, the highest point on the Oa peninsula (pronounced ‘O’.) This is one of my favourite areas with broken cliffs and bays overlooking a sometimes wild deep blue sea.Shipwrecks have claimed many lives here.
Then off to the parking spot on the lovely Mull of Oa where we spent the next 3.5 hours doing a walk which turned out to be much harder and longer than we expected! ( I’ve said that a million times after a walk :))
For more on this walk: ISLAY -MULL OF OA/BEINN MHOR HIKE
The walk to the American Monument itself is an easy straightforward short walk of 20 mins or so, though there is a circular loop that can be done too.The monument is a fine memorial to the sinking of two troopships in the 1st and 2nd World Wars which went down off the Mull and also off Kilchoman beach, with the tragic loss of hundreds of lives.
We’d had sandwiches at the top of Bheinn Mhor, but that already felt like hours ago so we were ready for a stop at the newly built Machrie Golf Hotel near Port Ellen, somewhere I was really keen to check out.Decades ago when I played golf, they used to do £99 day trip packages from Glasgow, including return flights to Islay, bacon rolls on arrival, a round of golf on a near Championship level course, then lunch. A brilliant day out though the hotel itself was on its last legs.It needed investment for years and finally got it.
Wow, what a place it now is! Classy modern inside, lots of big sofas and stone floors, fireplaces and nice rugs…and a sunny upper floor terrace overlooking the 18th Green.Beautiful place.Feeling like a couple of scruffs, we went in anyway after a quick change out of grubby hiking boots and a running a comb through my hair.We shared an excellent Club Sandwich with a lovely runny fried egg inside instead of boiled egg – I’m converted – and said and crisps. Really good quality and not bad at £9 given the 5 star location. The sun was really beating down now and after enjoying being off our feet for 45 mins or so and having a rest after quite a hard walk, we headed out over the course to Machrie’s long stretch of pale, pristine sands.It’s a cracker of a beach.If only we’d brought our wetsuits, it would have been perfect for a swim, given the heat!
Chris had checked out the prices at the hotel – £250 a night for a Standard Double room – nae cheap, as they say.Hopefully, an off-peak deal might come up as it would be great for a short break, sitting all on its own, close to the little island airport overlooking the sea and Loch Indaal.
A quick stop at Bowmore again, more Chicken Pakora, we couldn’t resist it again I’m ashamed to say, not exactly healthy eating.In fact, we dropped the steak add on and got two portions of the stuff.Dreadful.
Another relaxing evening at the tent, enjoying the rest of the Champers .Chris had bought the bottle for me and I don’t go through it quickly as I don’t really drink much.It was nice and cool, lying in a wee saltwater pool near the tent.I did wonder whether someone might find it during the day and snaffle it but I think you’d have to be pretty desperate to risk drinking something found in a bottle:)
No midges again as there was a light breeze plus the sun was quite strong.Asleep by 10pm (which is late for us at the tent – all that fresh air tends conks us out super early) , the seals singing once more out on the sand banks.
Next Day: lovely Kilchoman beach and a (tough!) hike to Turnaichaidh Hill ISLAY – KILCHOMAN BEACH WALK AND PORT CHARLOTTE