Glengoyne Distillery

A common theme to our days out or trips away is there is usually a trip to a distillery included in our travels. This trip was no exception. This time it was a visit to Glengoyne distillery just north of Glasgow. Despite its proximity to Glasgow it is a Highland distillery though it’s warehouses are in the lowlands.

As we arrived early for our tour we took a walk to the back of the distillery where the original source water of for Glengoyne whisky is – the water used is now taken Loch Carron. We found a very pretty waterfall.

We returned to the shop and were greeted by our tour guide Arthur. Like many distillery tours our starting point was watching an introductory film about the distillery but unlike many tours this was when we got our dram! I had to put my dram in a container as I was driving, though I did have a smell and sip beforehand.

The film over the main tour began. Like most distilleries, Glengoyne has its barley malted off site, but in the malting process no peat is used. Instead the barley for Glengoyne whisky is malted using an anthracite smokeless coal. The flavours for this whisky comes in the distillation and maturation process. The stills are much smaller and the low wines from the first distillation are slowly distilled in two smaller stills. Then in the maturation only oak casks are used.

The tour over it was back to the shop to purchase a bottle. Unlike other distilleries where your tour prices is then discounted on a bottle of whisky, there were discounted ticket prices on all bottles including miniatures.

We have visited several distilleries on our travel each one different and Glengoyne did not disappoint. Glengoyne is owned by Ian McLeod distilleries, a small Scottish company who have a few other distilleries including Spencerfield which make Edinburgh gin and Rosebank in Falkirk which they are in the process of restoring.

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North Coast 500 Day 1

We started in Inverness on a Monday morning in July. We headed west. Our first stop was Beauly.

Beauly is only 20 minutes outside of Inverness. A nice stop to visit Beauly Priory.

Beauly Priory is one of three priories founded in Scotland in about 1230 for monks of the Valliscaulian order. The Valliscaulians came from Val-des-Choux (‘Valley of the Cabbages’) near Dijon in France, and adhered to strict ideals of poverty, chastity and obedience.

Beauly, meaning ‘beautiful place’, must have seemed to the monks a wonderful location in which to devote themselves to worship. Only the abbey church still stands today, housing some fine funerary monuments. (Source – Historic Scotland).

After a walk along the high street it was time to get back into the car. We didn’t drive very far. Our next stop was Glen Ord Distillery.

On our travels we have visited many distilleries but each time each distillery is slightly different and Glen Ord was no exception. Unlike many distilleries Glen Ord has a maltings onsite.

Tour done and bottle of whisky bought – only place in the UK this can be purchased as the whisky is made for the Far East market – it was back in the car.

As we hadn’t gotten very far it was time to put the miles on the clock. It was a lovely drive and our next stop was Lochcarron for lunch. We parked the car and went in search for somewhere for lunch. We had lunch at The Waterside Café – worth a stop to check out their haggis toastie.

Back in the car but it wasn’t long before we stopped to visit the Kishorn Selfie Box.

It was Terry’s turn to drive as this was going to be a difficult road up Bealach na Ba. This is a historic pass through the mountains of the Applecross peninsula, in Wester Ross in the Scottish Highlands.

The road is one of few in the Scottish Highlands that is engineered similarly to roads through the great mountain passes in the Alps, with very tight hairpin bends that switch back and forth up the hillside and gradients that approach 20%. It boasts the greatest ascent of any road climb in the UK, rising from sea level at Applecross to 626 metres and is the third highest road in Scotland.

The names is Scottish Gaelic for Pass of the Cattle, as it was historically used as a drovers road. Source – Wikipedia.

At the top we had a brief stop to admire the view and stretch our legs. Then it was a descent into Applecross, where we had another brief stop for a snack. When we stopped in Applecross both of us had our ears pop due to the quick descent.

Back in the car it was a short drive to Shieldeig to our over night accommodation at Tigh an Eilean.






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Dalkeith Country Walk

Instead of going to the gym this afternoon I decided to take a walk in Dalkeith Country Park.

The first place I visited was the orangery. This is a symmetrical dodecahedral conservatory with rich Jacobean detailing, on raised dais over a heating chamber. Bays are divided by engaged Roman Doric Columns. There are large windows in each bay – currently no glass – the door is at the south.

The Conservatory was conceived as the centrepiece of W S Gilpin’s parterre design, little trace of which now remains. The heating system consisted of two hot-water boilers and furnaces located in the vaulted cellar; the furnaces were directly connected to the main flue within the central chimney. The strapwork is probably derived from Wendel Dietterlin’s ARCHITECTURA. Source – Buildings at Risk.

The orangery is next to River South Esk. A short walk along the river.

There are several walks in Dalkeith Country Park – see map – I opted to take the yellow walk. This took me along the river and up towards the town gates and St Marys Church. Once I reached the town gates I strolled down towards Dalkeith Palace.

Dalkeith Palace was completed in 1711 for Anna, 1st Duchess of Buccleuch, who appointed leading architect at the time, James Smith, to design the new palace based on Het Loo in the Netherlands. It is built on the same site as the fortified medieval castle and palace of the Earls of Morton, acquired by Francis 2nd Earl of Buccleuch in 1642. It is regarded as one of the grandest early classical houses in Scotland.

Many eminent guests have been entertained at Dalkeith over the years. Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed here two nights during the Jacobite Rebellion year of 1745. King George IV slept here during his visit to Edinburgh in 1822, in preference to Holyroodhouse Palace, which was then in poor repair. Queen Victoria also visited in 1842. Source – Dalkeith Country Park

I next strolled towards Montagu Bridge.

Crossing the North Esk is the lofty Montague Bridge. Designed by Robert Adam and built in 1792, it is named after Lady Elizabeth Montague who married Henry, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch. At one time the bridge was more ornate, but the two stags which supported the Buccleuch arms, frightened the horses crossing the bridge so much, they had to be removed. Source – Esk Valley Trust




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Islay Day 4 – beach, distillery and home

Our last day on Islay. Due to the ferry changes we weren’t catching the ferry until 3.30pm instead of lunchtime. We decided to revisit the beach at Kilnaughton bay. Last time we had visited we spotted a church in the rock so we went to investigate.


I haven’t been able to find out any information about this. Please comment if you know anything about this.

We got back in the car and headed further round the bay to Kilnaughton chapel and graveyard. It is also known as St Nechtan’s Chapel, Cill Neachdain or Mechtan’s Church and was dedicated to St Nechtan. What we saw was a roofless oblong stone building, which was probably built in the 1400s. The simple shape of the chapel is given added interest by the later addition of two stone burial enclosures against its north wall. Source – Kilnaughton Chapel.

The burial ground at Kilnaughton is fascinating in its own right. There are many recumbent grave slabs whose inscriptions or carvings are no longer visible, but which appear to date back to the early centuries of the chapel’s life.

We headed north towards Port Askaig. I thought that Bunnahabhain Distillery had a café so we thought we would have a quick stop there. I was wrong but on the positive Terry did get to taste the whisky! It was worth drive out to the distillery for the views over to Jura.

No coffee and cake on this detour so we headed back towards Port Arsaig. On the road we spotted a pottery shop which was also a café. A quick stop for coffee and scone in the sunshine, then a drive to the port for the ferry home. The end of a wonderful weekend away. We’ll be back – still have distilleries to visit plus lots more to discover.


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Islay Day 3 – Stone Circle, Distilleries and more ruins

Another hearty breakfast, car packed we headed off to look for the stone circle at Cultoon.


We parked and walked across a field as we couldn’t see another way to the stone circle. This was not the way to go. We walked through a farmers field which was a mistake – the gate was open and there were no sheep in the field –  but a farmer on a quad bike came to ensure we left his field. We left promptly. If you are visiting this area please be careful how you access the site.

Next it was on to our first distillery of the day – Lagavulin – one of three distilleries on the south of Islay.

The distillery of Lagavulin officially dates from 1816, when John Jonston and Archibald Campbell constructed two distilleries on the site. One of them became Lagavulin, taking over the other – which is not exactly known. Lagavulin is celebrating it’s 200th anniversary this year.

Next up was Laphroaig. The distillery was not in production when we visited but this allowed us to see inside the kiln. Laphroaig is one of the few distilleries that malts some of its own barley.

Laphroaig was established in 1815 by Donald and Alexander Johnston. The last member of the Johnston family to run the distillery was Ian Hunter who died childless in 1954 and left the distillery to one of his managers, Bessie Williamson.

Laphroaig is the only whisky to carry the Royal Warrant of the Prince of Wales, which was awarded in person during a visit to the distillery in 1994.

Well after visiting two distillery it was time to get something to eat so we headed to Ardbeg distillery. Coffee and cake but no tour around the distillery. There was time for photos.

Our last visit of the day was to Kildalton Cross. This is a monolithic high cross in Celtic cross form in the churchyard of the former parish church of Kildalton. It was carved probably in the second half of the 8th century AD, and is closely related to crosses of similar date on Iona. It is often considered the finest surviving Celtic cross in Scotland.


The cross is in the graveyard next to the ruins of Kildalton church which has other interesting graves.

It was then a drive back to Bowmore to book into The Harbour Inn for our last night on Islay.


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Islay Day 2 part 2 – beach, graveyard and sunset

After we finished at the distillery we headed south, this time the other side of the loch. We had a short stop in Bowmore for coffee and cake before heading to Port Ellen. A short walk in the harbour.

Back in the car we took the road to the Mull of Oa. Not far outside of Port Ellen we parked by a cemetery and started to walk towards the beach. We were not disappointed when we reached the dunes, we had a great view of Carraig Fhada lighthouse.

The lighthouse was commissioned in 1832 by Walter Frederick Campbell in memory of his wife Lady Eleanor Campbell. It is a very characteristic lighthouse with two square towers connected to each other.

We sat for a while watching the word go by in Kilnaughton bay.

We could have sat for hours but we had to head back up to Bowmore as we had booked a table at The Lochside Hotel.

After dinner we headed over to Machir bay. Before we went to the beach we visited Kilchoman church.

The church was built in 1827 after the medieval church was declared unsafe. Nothing remains of the medieval church, but the surrounding churchyard still has a wealth of evidence of its presence. Most striking is the Kilchoman Cross. The cross stands some 2.57m high and was carved in a style known as the “Iona School” at some time in the 1300s or 1400s. The carving on the cross is magnificent, and remains remarkably crisp despite the efforts of the local lichen population. More information can be found here.

It was then on to the beach at Machir Bay. We had been told that this was the place to see the sunset. We weren’t disappointed.

It started to rain so it was back to the car and back to our hotel for the evening.


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Islay Day 2 Part 1 – ruins, rocks and distillery visit.

After a hearty breakfast we headed up to Finlaggan.

A few miles to the south-west of Port Askaig on the island of Islay lies Loch Finlaggan, a place of great importance in Scottish history, In the loch are three islands, two of which lie close to the north shore. These are Eilean Mor (large island) and Eilean na Comhairle (council isle) which contain fragmentary remains of buildings. Here the installation of the Lords of the Isles took place. The Macdonald Lords of the Isles were descended from Somerled, a 12th century prince, and these lords, the chiefs of Clan Donald, chose Finlaggan as their home and the centre of their lordship, so that Islay is often referred to as the Cradle of Clan Donald. Source – Finlaggan Trust

Finlaggan is an amazing place and I hope my photos do it justice. It was amazing to see such structures stilling existing hundreds of years after they had been build. There is a wooden walkway to the first island, but no way over to the second island. Once on the first island there are information boards to help guide you around the island. Before heading down to the island there is a small information museum. It wasn’t open when we arrived at the site but was before we left. It is worth a look around to find out more about the site. As the museum is not secure a lot of the artefacts found on the site are now in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. Finlaggan is worth a visit on a trip to Islay.

Our next stop was Bruichladdich – the distillery. We couldn’t get on a tour until 2pm – book distillery tours in advance is advisable – so we had coffee and cake before exploring and relaxing on the rocks near the distillery.

It  was very relaxing lying on the rocks watching the clouds go by. I closed my eyes and thought I was in the Caribbean. The time allowed me time to try out my new camera.

We could have spent the afternoon on the rocks but the time had come for our tour round the distillery.

Bruichladdich is Gaelic (Bruchláddich or Bruikladdie) and means corner of the beach or gentle slope of the sea. The distillery was built in the year 1881 by the Brothers Robert, William and John Gourlay Harvey. The distillery is located on the Isle of Islay near the lake Indaal. The Harvey family ran the distillery until William died in 1936. Afterwards the distillery was sold and mothballed many times until Murray McDavid purchased the distillery in the year 2000. They refurbished the distillery in the old Victorian style and started production. In July 2012 the distillery was bought by Rémy Cointreau, who still own the company today. Source –

We have been several distillery tours each one is slightly different. This tour was made different by the old Victorian equipment which is still in good working order. The tour was also made enjoyable by our tour guide Heather. Bruichladdich is one of the only distilleries on Islay which does it’s bottling and marketing from Islay. Plus they are the only distillery on Islay to make gin – The Botanist – when they had money issues they diversified into making gin with great success. I would recommend a trip to Bruichladdich distillery.

Check out my next blog post will be what we did the rest of day 2 on Islay!



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