First stop of the day was Finlaggan, the Ancient Seat of the Lord of the Isles, an island settlement in the beautiful secluded Loch Finlaggan in between Ballygrant and Keills. The derelict cottage rebuilt by the Finlaggan Trust is now a small museum and interpretive centre. We watched a film about the latest archaeological excavations which was very informative and demonstrated that Finlaggan has been occupied since very early times, but it achieved most fame in the 13th to 15th centuries under the MacDonald Lord of the Isles. The artefacts which have been uncovered are also displayed in the museum, along with the intriguing family tree of the MacDonalds clan.
There are two islands, the larger accessible by timber walkways and paths and very detailed information panels. The path across the island goes over the remains of the 13th century defences. Eilean Mor, the main island was the Lords’ main residence, the ruins can be seen along with its chapel and fourteenth century grave slabs. Adjacent to the Eilean Mor is the Council Island where the parliament of the isles met to adjudicate on matters of law. It is a very interesting site to visit.
We then drove back to Port Ellen to visit Laphroaig Distillery as it is Open Day here today. As we walked in we were given a special gift to mark the occasion; a steel water bottle, an engraved tasting glass on a lanyard and a dram of the 12-year-old peat malt whisky. This would have cost around £20 if you bought them retail, not a bad gift!
Once again, the distillery was packed with visitors, music was being played by a band, a seafood stall and burgers were on site and a few specialty stalls, one of which sold a delicious variety of cheeses which we bought. Later on, a group of bagpipers played music, one of the pieces was Mull Of Kintyre which was very moving. Today any samples of whisky had to be purchased but I suppose with a welcoming gift it didn’t seem too big an ask!
The visitors centre is a museum of the history of the distillery, which was very fascinating. They provide gumboots for tours to the distillery to enable them to walk through the distilling process and the peat used in the process. The distillery is situated on the Sound of Islay and has an awesome view.
After this we drove to our wild camp for the night which is overlooking the Port Ellen Marina just across the road from where we are going to listen to a Scottish comedian. Lucked out again!
The comedian, Fred MacAulay, who has been performing stand-up comedy for 30 years was absolutely hilarious. He began by asking the audience where they came from and the first ones were us! He used this as his bases to begin his act and had everyone laughing. This continued for an hour a half and by the end I don’t think there was one person in the audience who had dry eyes. It was a thoroughly entertaining night.