Driving Tour Information
Area: Heart of Islay
Total Distance: 20-28 Miles, 32-45Km
Total Time: 2-3 hours
Nearest Petrol station: Bridgend
Map: Islay Landranger Map
Highlights & Other Info
A fabulous drive over the main road between Bridgend and Port Askaig, passing Finlaggan, the ancient seat of the Lords of the Isles, and back via Ballygrant and the single track Glen Road through the heart of the Dunlossit Estate
Bridgend to Ballygrant
The road from Bridgend to Port Askaig, the A846, runs through good quality farmland and has some very interesting points of interest. Just after Bridgend on the main road is a track on the left to Eallabus, Knockdon farm and the lovely woodland area around Loch Skerrols. The loch is worth a visit and so is the woodland situated around the loch. Back on the main road and only one km further north is another track on the left towards Scarrabus farm and one of the many standing stones on Islay. Also on the mainroad towards Ballygrant is the Islay Woollen Mill and Esknish Farm, Islay's last dairy farm.
Just before reaching Ballygrant there is a small patch of woodland on the right in which stands Kilmeny Church. A wee track just before the woodland leads to Kilmeny Farm and the old Kilmeny chapel and cemetery, which has a few beautifully carved medieval grave slabs. South of the chapel are the earthworks of Dun Guaidhre, an Iron Age fort. The village of Ballygrant starts one km further down the road with houses on the left and right of the road. For a coffee or tea you can stop at Labels, a wee shop in the former post office. For something more, and the best collection of whiskies on the island, visit the Ballygrant Inn.
After the village of Ballygrant, about half a mile further down the main road, is a signposted turning to the left to Mulreesh and Finlaggan, the administrative centre of the Lordship of the Isles. The single track road itself continues north to Balulive farm. Just before the gate are remains of a chapel and there are several deserted (farm)buildings as well as some interesting views over the island.
Keills and Port Askaig Area
Back on the main road is the village of Keills, where there are the remains of a chapel on the left, which can be reached from a track in the centre of the village. Back on the mainroad there is a turning to the left onto a beautiful and very scenic single track road to Persabus Ceramics Café where you can create your own pottery, and the Bunnahabhain Distillery, both worth visiting. To visit Bunnahabhain add 8 miles and 30 to 60 minutes to this tour. A little further towards Port Askaig is a turning to the left towards the village of Caol Ila and Caol-Ila Distillery directly followed by a parking place on the right-hand side of the main road with a nice track towards the Lily Loch and further into Dunlossit Estate.
Port Askaig is the main ferry hub on Islay, from here ferries leave for Colonsay, Oban, Jura and the mainland. Port Askaig is also home to the RNLI Lifeboat station. In the local hotel is a good restaurant and bar. The petrol station besides the hotel is operated through the local store/post office. Nearby, and visible from the ferry, is Dunlossit Castle.
Back via the Glen Road
Head back from Port Askaig to Ballygrant over the main road. In the village of Ballygrant, opposite the only shop on your right, is a single track road going left. This is the start of the Glen Road, a very scenic road, with good opportunities to spot Red Deer on the hills. It's an almost deserted area, apart from a few farms. The entire area around the Glen Road is owned by Dunlossit Estate. At the first T-junction, at Cluanach, the house with a guitar on the gate, turn right. A few hundred metres after Cluanach and before a wee bridge over River Laggan look right and try to spot Dun Nosebridge, an ancient hill fort from Neolithic times and one of the best preserved forts on Islay. If you follow the single track road you end up on the main road between Bowmore and Bridgend, go right to go back to Bridgend.
View from the Glen Road