The quickest way to get to and from Islay is by plane. There are daily flights from Glasgow all year round. For most of the year there are morning and evening flights on and off the island with just a morning flight on Saturdays and an evening flight on Sundays. The frequency of the half-hour flights increases up to three times a day in summer.
The service is operated by Loganair loganair.co.uk or telephone +44 (0) 141 642 9407. You can also book through ba.com if flying from or to London with British Airways.
The flights are in small turboprop planes which take up to 36 passengers. On a clear day there are fabulous views of the Firth of Clyde, Kintyre and the Isle of Arran.
Ferries operated by Caledonian MacBrayne run from Kennacraig to Port Ellen, which is very convenient for Beach Cottage, and Port Askaig, in the north of the island. There are up to three two-hour crossings per day, depending on the time of year. You can book online at www.calmac.co.uk or by calling +44 (0) 8000 66 5000. Booking is essential during holiday periods.
If coming from Northern Ireland, there is a passenger-only speedboat service from Ballycastle which gets you to Port Ellen in around an hour. http://www.kintyreexpress.com.
Ferries to Islay leave from Kennacraig (Tel: 01880 730253) in Kintyre. Kennacraig is 105 miles from Glasgow and about 500 miles from London. The drive from Glasgow usually takes two and a half hours. Flying saves you time but you miss out on a drive through some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland.
You go up the western edge of Loch Lomond, skirt round the top of Loch Long and then down the western shore of Loch Fyne. A good place to break your trip is at the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, which is about half-way between Glasgow and Kennacraig.
There is nothing at the ferry port, so if you are ahead of schedule and want a cup of tea or to do some shopping, you should stop at Tarbert, a small fishing port about five miles before Kennacraig.
If using a SatNav device for the journey from Glasgow, insert “via Inveraray” to ensure you get the correct route.
IS EASIER THAN YOU MIGHT THINK AND ADDS TO THE EXPERIENCE. FLYING IS QUICK AND SPECTACULAR. THE FERRIES ARE GREAT FUN AND THE JOURNEY THROUGH ARGYLL IS ONE OF THE WORLD’S LOVELIEST DRIVES.