Driving Tour Information
Area: South-west Islay
Total Distance: 20 Miles, 32Km
Total Time: 2-4 hours
Nearest Petrol station: Port Charlotte
Map: Islay Landranger Map
Highlights & Other Info
The Rhinns of Islay have some of the most beautiful and picturesque villages of Islay as well as some stunning bays and views over the Atlantic Ocean all yours to discover in this circular driving tour
Bruichladdich to Port Charlotte
If you start in Bruichladdich you might as well do so from Debbies Minimarket. This is an excellent occasion for a good coffee and cake or sandwich before you start your tour. Head south towards the village of Port Charlotte. Below the war memorial on your left is a tiny and secluded beach called Port Ban, well worth a stop. Continue on the main road, the A847, towards Port Charlotte. The Kilchoman parish church, St Kiarans, is located halfway between Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte, and just before entering Port Charlotte village you will find the Lochindaal lighthouse on the left. On a clear day the American Monument on the Oa Peninsula is clearly visible.
From Port Charlotte to the South
The road to Port Wemyss and Portnahaven from Port Charlotte takes you to a very beautiful and quiet part of Islay. On the right, the highest point of the Rhinns of Islay, Beinn tart a'Mhill, rises about 232 metres high. Near Nerabus, five kilometres to the south the fishing Gannets drop themselves into the waters of Loch Indaal. This long and winding single track road, the A847, offers wonderful views across towards Laggan Bay and the Oa peninsula. Nerabus (Nereabolls) is worth a visit because of the remains of a chapel and the carved stones. There are two enclosures and the second enclosure located to the south of the first one, was acquired by the Clan Donalds Lands Trust and the carved medieval grave slabs have been re-positioned under glass for protection and visibility by Finlaggan Trust. Closer to the shore are an old chapel and mill, with the mill stones still present.
Port Wemyss and Portnahaven
The first village on your left is Port Wemyss which has a nice Coastal walking path. On most days you can either spot seals from the shore or hear them on Orsay island, across the water. From the coastal path it's a short walk to Portnahaven which has a shop annex post office and a pub, An Tigh Seinnse. The rocks in the secluded bay are often used by seals who bask in the sunshine. Both villages are very attractive, also at sunset, and perhaps even more so with stormy conditions when the waves hit the shores around Portnahaven. Just outside Portnahaven is a very secluded wee beach, Currie Sands, which is ideal for a picknick.
Driving along the Atlantic Ocean
From Portnahaven head to the local church and take the road left from the church at OK corner, this is Church Street. From here it's a 10 mile drive back through some of the most beautiful countryside Islay has to offer. Highlights in this part of Islay are the wildlife, the presence near the Atlantic Ocean and Lossit and Kilchiaran Bay and chapel. Halfway you can find the Cultoon Stone Circle from which only one stone still stands. For a unique shop and warm welcome visit Anne at Tormisdale Croft. After Kilchiaran Chapel the road goes back east to Port Charlotte. Half a mile before Port Charlotte is the Tooth Stone, a rock where people used to hammer nails in to get rid of their dental pains.
Back in Port Charlotte
The conservation village of Port Charlotte has a village store with petrol station, a few hotels and restaurants, the Islay Natural History Trust and the Museum of Islay Life. Enough to keep one pleasantly occupied after a beautiful tour over the Rhinns of Islay.