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Wednesday, 09/Jan/2008

Islay Walking Week WalkIslay 2008 Programme

Picture of walkers on their way on Islay

Today I received something I had already heard a first few thoughts about back in October, now the details are all complete: The programme for WalkIslay 2008 has been published. It is now eight months since the Islay Walking Week 2007, as of writing this there are 93 days until the next one (check the Islay Countdowns for the latest). So what are the walks for 2008?

There are 16 walks listed on the programme, for some of them I can provide you with some background, some will be new to me as well. In chronological order the walks on Islay, Jura and Colonsay are:

  1. As is now tradition we start the week with a walk by Donald James MacPhee. He will take us to 6 ancient chapels including Finlaggan. The walk will touch part of the Lossit Walk in 2007 (we might get to see the rare breed pigs again) as well as Dùn Bhorariac we visited in 2004. I'll be on this walk to kick off the week.
  2. The second walk on Sunday is with Lindy and Bryony again, same as last year. They will take us to Margadale and Margadale Hill, an area we passed during the return from Giùr-bheinn. More importantly the walk will then continue to Sgarbh Breac, from where we should have great views over the north east of Islay. Another walk I intend to join.
  3. An easier option at the same time is a walk along the ‘Burma Road’, a track following the River Laggan between the High Road and the Low Road. I don't have any pictures I could show you for this and won't be on the walk either as I will be on the other walk.
  4. On Monday the fourth walk is one I'm looking forward to, as it will cover an area mostly new to me: Walter and Beth Ramsay will take us from Bruichladdich to Kilchoman Distillery and back. We will pass Conisby, Gleann Osamail and Sunderland Hill among others. I suspect there might be the odd wee dram on the way, considering we will pass two distilleries. Obviously I don't have any pictures I could show you of the area, but hope to have many after my return.
  5. The easier option parallel to the fourth walk is the Solam Walk Lindy and Florrie will lead from Ardbeg. A very nice walk I'll have to miss as I'll be on the other walk.
  6. Tuesday sees the big walk, a repeat of the Bholsa and Rhuvaal walk from 2006. The walk is limited to 14 walkers, so register your interest with Ian Brooke quickly. I already have.
  7. The shorter alternative will see Mike Coplestone lead a birdwatching walk on The Oa. Not sure if you will see Peregrine Falcons chicks again, but may be a Golden Eagle or two?
  8. Wednesday will be Colonsay Day, at least for me. James How will take us for a walk near The Strand on Colonsay (although we won't go to Oronsay).
  9. For those not going to Colonsay the first option is a guided walk in the Port Ellen area with James and Mary MacAulay. There are no further details given, so I don't know if there are any pictures I could link to.
  10. The second alternative for those staying on Islay is a short walk in the walkaboutabit series through the Islay Community Access Group, details of the actual walk to be announced nearer to the day.
  11. Thursday will be Jura Day, at least for me. In the morning Gordon and Louise will take us on a comparably short walk (compared to some of their previous walks, e.g. Loch Tarbert in 2005 or Corra Bheinn and the Paps in 2007) from Craighouse to the Market Loch. The afternoon will be left to explore Jura (or just relax on Jura).
  12. Those not wanting to go to Jura can stay on Islay for some walking with the RSPB: The longer option is a walk across the moorland and along Loch Gruinart.
  13. The shortest option of the day is a walk to the bird hide with James How, returning through the woodland trail.
  14. The last walking day will be the Friday, the big walk of the day being the climb up Beinn Bheigier, a walk I enjoyed a lot in 2005. I don't know if Tom plans to take the same route or show us something different, I'll be there either way.
  15. The easier option will be with Iain MacPherson, who will walk around Ardnave and tell the walkers about the herring station among other things.
  16. The final walk will be an evening walk (with potential ghost sightings) along Loch Gruinart, from Kilnave Chapel to the RSPB Visitor Centre. Led by Michael Coplestone, who I suspect will have the odd spooky tale to tell.

Those are all the walks for the week, in addition to the walks there will also be various evening events. Visitors Welcome Evening, illustrated talks, live music etc should keep us entertained.

I've been on all of the Islay Walking Weeks so far, they have all been excellent. I expect this one to be excellent again and hope that some of my pictures will get you interested to join. Feel free to ask me any questions about my experiences via e-mail or preferably in the comments (so that others can learn as well). For the official programme head over to the WalkIslay website or download and print a PDF version of the WalkIslay 2008 programme I've taken the freedom to create.

See you walking on Islay in April?

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