Waiting for ferry departure time at Port Ellen
Waiting for ferry departure time at Port Ellen

I woke early as the sun heated up the tent, rising at 05:45 to find a cloud of midges massed outside waiting to ambush us. Christine was reluctant to confront them, hiding in the tent while I tried to sort out the breakfast amidst the attack. We finally left at 08:00 after speaking to an American, on his fifth visit to the island in ten years, and a Scot living in Salisbury. He’d wanted to walk the west coast of Jura and told his son, who opted in… with two male and two female friends. So the party of six were trudging through bog and camping during Sunday’s downpour, he said the midges at Craighouse were nothing compared with the ravenous clouds they’d encountered. They’d also collected deer ticks but still loved their trek in the wild west.

Lorries delivering malt from Port Ellen to the distillery were a hazard on the otherwise quiet road back to the port. We’d have liked more time on the island, but would have needed a day to get to the end of the road and another to return. I’d like to see the Corryvreckan whirlpool so one day we’ll be back.

We had to wait half an hour for the ferry back to Islay, on landing we paused at the hotel for coffee before toiling up the steep hill and then turned off the main road for a very peaceful lane over moorland, seeing only a van and two cyclists, one on a recumbent, on the entire stretch. This subsequently joined the B road to Port Ellen, which was much busier this time.

We reached Port Ellen at 13:00 and bought food for our picnic, which we ate at a table overlooking the bay. This allowed enough time for a pint of Islay Ales at the Ardview, so I strolled along only to find they were awaiting a delivery, a major disappointment. As we were preparing to leave, the cyclist we’d met at Finlaggan arrived for a chat, putting pressure on us for the 15:30 departure, although it didn’t get away until 15:48 as they squeezed as many vehicles as they could onto the boat, some being left behind.

It was rather hot in the sunshine on deck. I tried a bottle of Islay Black Rock Ale, a rich malty brew and so far my favourite of the three I’d tried from this brewery. We docked at 18:15 and followed two cyclists down the road. They stopped to wild camp at what looked like a midge haven. Halfway to Tarbert we saw a caravan and chalet park so enquired about the possibility of a one-night let. Luckily they had one old caravan spare so we accepted it at £40 for the night. It was a good move, as dark clouds formed quickly out of nowhere to produce heavy rain for a time.