Rhinns of Islay
The Rhinns of Islay have some of the most beautiful and picturesque villages of Islay as well as stunning bays and views over the Atlantic Ocean. Highlights:
- Port Charlotte
- Port Wemyss
Bruichladdich to Port Charlotte
Start in Bruichladdich, perhaps after a coffee, cake or sandwich from Debbie's Minimarket. Head south towards the village of Port Charlotte. Below the war memorial on your left is a tiny and secluded beach called Port Ban. Continue on the main A847 road towards Port Charlotte. The Kilchoman parish church, St Kiarans, is located halfway between Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte. Just before entering the village, you will find the Lochindaal lighthouse on the left. On a clear day, the American Monument on the Oa Peninsula is clearly visible.
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 232m high. Near Nerabus, three miles to the south, the fishing gannets drop themselves into the waters of Loch Indaal. This long and winding single-track road offers wonderful views across towards Laggan Bay and the Oa peninsula. Nerabus (Nereabolls) offers the remains of a chapel and the carved stones. There are two enclosures, and the southern one was acquired by the Clan Donalds Lands Trust. 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 offers a scenic 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 basking in the sunshine. Both villages are attractive, both at sunset and during stormy conditions, when the waves hit the shores around Portnahaven. Just outside Portnahaven is a very secluded wee beach, Currie Sands.
By 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 include the abundant wildlife, the proximity to the ocean, Lossit and Kilchiaran Bay and Kilchiaran Chapel. Halfway, you will discover Cultoon Stone Circle where only one stone still stands. For a unique shop and warm welcome, visit Anne at Tormisdale Croft. After Kilchiaran Chapel, the road heads 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. A fitting end to a beautiful tour over the Rhinns of Islay.