WALK ISLAY FROM THE BACK DOOR
From Beach Cottage you can walk all week without ever getting in your car. Breakfast tastes better after an early morning stroll along the shore. Forage for wild garlic in the woods at the end of the beach. Digest dinner with a walk to the lighthouse or the Singing Sands.
If you are feeling more energetic, head up the hill above the lighthouse. The track, which takes you past the ruins of the abandoned settlement of Lurabus, runs out after about a mile. But you can continue along the cliff tops or cut in land and, after half an hour of cross country scrambling, complete a three-hour circle back to the house via the road through the middle of the Oa. Perfect if you’ve got a slow roast in the oven.
In the other direction, make for Port Ellen and continue on to the Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin distillleries. Walks on the outskirts of the village take you past standing stones, chambered cairns and the remains of an Iron Age fort.
Hiking highlights further afield include the mature woods at Bridgend, big Atlantic surf on the west coast of the island, the RSPB’s marshland reserve at Loch Gruinart and Finlaggan, ancient seat of the Lords of the Isles. Or if only a big hill will do, jump on the Jura ferry and take on the Paps. The highest of them is Beinn an Oir (785m/2576 feet) and you can do the three peaks in one day.
A great time to be on Islay is for the annual and increasingly popular , in April. One or two walks every day led by enthusiastic, well-informed local guides.
From Easter to October there are interesting weekly walks at the and RSPB reserves.