Day 5 |
May 19, 2011

 Islay and Gigha, Scotland 

By Claudia Holgate, Climatologist


Co-ordinates: 55º45’N, 05º53’W
Weather: Clear to overcast with gusting winds and intermittent rain
Air Temperature: 10C
Wind speed 63 km/h North Easterly
Pressure 1011 hPa

Today we had two landings, the first being at Islay “the Queen of the Hebrides” where our guests disembarked by deck 45 minutes apart and went off to two different whisky distilleries. At the distilleries they had a tour explaining the process of whisky making from beginning to end, with an opportunity to sample a dram during the tour. Then on the way back to Port Ellen where the Zodiacs were waiting, there was a stop in the little town centre where everyone had a short opportunity to walk around the town and do some shopping or have a coffee.

The last Zodiac returned shortly before 2pm and all the guests were famished and had a quick opportunity for lunch in The Restaurant before going off to Imogen’s lecture on “The Second or Third Coming” which focused on the earliest evidence of Christian traditions in Britain. It then followed St Columba in his exile to Iona and considered how St Augustine’s mission caused the greatest upheaval the church in Britain has ever known; Christianity had thrived for many years with very little input from Rome after all.

We then anchored just off the island of Gigha, where the Horlicks family has developed a garden at Achamore House. Gigha is a small island off the west coast of Kintyre in Scotland and has a population of about 150. A local cyclist told me that the community had bought the island, which was now run by the community trust where he worked and which was starting to grow, especially by having more tourists coming to visit. He also pointed out the new houses and refurbished houses on the island as an indication of the increasing economic stability coming to the island.

Our visit was, however, to the gardens at Achamore House, which are famous for their rhododendrons and rare species of shrubs and trees, some of which are endangered in their country of origin. On arrival at Gigha, the guests had a walk of just over one kilometre to reach the gardens, although a car had been organized to shuttle those who didn’t want to walk. The walk itself was very pretty — the verges along the road were studded with a wide diversity of wild flowers including primroses, English bluebells, comfrey and red campion. By the time we arrived back at the ship it was 7:30pm and we were just in time for dinner in The Restaurant. So far the weather has been kind to us (apart from a small shower today); let’s hope the same holds true for tomorrow.