The Island of Islay, Scotland

The Island of Islay is itself a marvel. It is the seventh largest Island in the Great Britain territory and measures a whopping 239 square miles. Being 25 miles long and 15 miles wide, you could pick the City of Birmingham up and it would fit precisely.

However the Bull Ring may well end up on top of a mountain, with Islay's highest peak being 491 metres and named Beinn Bheigier. The capital of the Island is Bowmore and at the latest count it has 3,000 residents.

A huge part of the economy is reliant on the 60,000 people who visit as tourists each year. However the economy draws other revenues from its fine Scottish tradition of distilling for Whisky. A remarkable and fine history for such a small island, at its height it was home to twenty three distilleries and the oldest bottle can be dated back to 1779.

To reach the island, you can do so via boat and Caledonian MacBrayne which operates between Port Ellen and Port Askaig. Ferries from Port Askaig can visit Scalasaig on Colonsay and to Oban. A car ferry also leaves Port Askaig to Feolin on Jura.

Being an Island in such treacherous waters means it is well served by historic lighthouses which are an obvious place of interest to visit if on holiday. All are working lighthouses. there are four in total, Rinns of Islay light built in 1825 by Robert Stevenson, Ruvaal 1859, Carraig Fhada at Port Ellen and Dubh Artach, also situated near Ruvaal.

Being a keen bird watcher you may also pass your time with a little bit of fishing and sea angling. Wild brown trout and salmon fishing are popular within the island and at sea you will witness trawlers seeking out the many coastal residents of lobster, scallop and crab.

Approximately 20 fishing boats operate off the island so there is plenty of photo opportunities for some great sea views with trawlers operating in the area all year round.

The birds, the birds! Yes the birds. A multitude of species frequent the Islay. It is estimated that no less than 120 birds can be spotted throughout the year. An incredible amount I am sure you will agree. From Brambling, Great Tit, Mistle Thrush, Dipper, Wren and Robin, through to Wryneck, Black Guillemot and Little Auk but to name a few.

Wildlife is also abundant in other forms, otters, red deer, lizards and butterflies can all be spotted year round as you walk the island proper.