Bridgend, Loch Gorm and Loch Gruinart
Discover the stunning west and north-west of Islay on a circular tour around Loch Gorm, with detours to Sanaigmore and the west and east shore of Loch Gruinart. A visit to Machir Bay, Saligo Bay and Sanaigmore Bay can be included in this tour. Highlights:
- Kilchoman Distillery
- Loch Gorm
- Islay West Coast
- RSPB Loch Gruinart
Bridgend to Loch Gorm
From Bridgend, follow the main A847 road to Bruichladdich, which takes you past the walls of the Islay House grounds on your right and the cattle market on the left. The road follows the lovely shore of Loch Indaal with numerous places to stop to enjoy the magnificent views and abundant wildlife. Parts of this road take you over raised beaches, remains from the last ice age which are still rising today.
Halfway, near Uiskentuie, is a gravel bank stretching out into the sea for almost 100m called "The Spit". This is the most northern part of Loch Indaal, and an excellent place to explore the beach and look for lovely shells. The grasslands were once a nine-hole golf course. Close to Uiskentuie Farm is a large standing stone on the right side of the road, dating back to the Bronze Age.
A mile before Bruichladdich, on your right, is the start of the Kilchoman Road (B8018). As you drive along this winding single-track road you pass Foreland House before reaching the summit of a wee hill. Here you have almost 360 degree views of Islay, Colonsay and even the Isle of Mull. Continue your way downhill and go straight ahead at the T-junction on the unclassified road. A mile further is a track that leads to Kilchoman Distillery. They also have a good shop and cafeteria where they serve snacks, coffees and teas.
Machir and Saligo Bay
The views over Loch Gorm and the Atlantic Ocean on your right are breathtaking in places. As you reach the end of the road, there is a row of whitewashed terraced houses. Keep to the right of them to access Machir Bay. Take the road on your right 100m before these houses and continue in your circular tour around Loch Gorm. At the nearest point to the ocean is a gate where you can park your car and access Saligo Bay behind the dunes.
Follow the road until you reach the T-junction with the red phone box near Carnduncan. Go left to follow the B8018 again for a 6 mile detour to Sanaigmore Bay and the Outback Art Gallery. Keep right, then go left at the first T-junction to continue the tour. As the road ascends, you follow a wall on your right where there are impressive views over Bowmore. When the road descends you can see the Gruinart Flats in the distance. At the T-junction is the RSPB visitors centre and the option for another detour, the road to Ardnave, which adds 8 miles to your journey to discover Kilnave Chapel. Cross a closed gate to get access to the chapel.