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Hiking trail

Port Wemyss and Portnahaven Loop Walks

Hiking trail
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Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Portnahaven inlet
    / Portnahaven inlet
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • Wild flowers along the coast
    / Wild flowers along the coast
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • The coastal path, Port Wemyss
    / The coastal path, Port Wemyss
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • Port Wemyss pier and Rhinns Lighthouse, Isle of Orsay
    / Port Wemyss pier and Rhinns Lighthouse, Isle of Orsay
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • Portnahaven church
    / Portnahaven church
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • The loch on the Portnahaven loop
    / The loch on the Portnahaven loop
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • / Currie Sands beach
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • / Portnahaven
    Photo: Catherine Allan, Macs Adventure
  • / Bruichladdich distillery
0 150 300 m km 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Two short loops combined to take in the best of Port Wemyss and Portnahaven on the south-western tip of Islay.

easy
7.7 km
2:30 h
87 m
83 m

A short walk designed to fit in with a long or short visit to the Bruichladdich distillery just further up the coast near Port Charlotte.  Discover two little fishing villages of Port Wemyss and Portnahaven with great coastal views of Rhinns Lighthouse, a hidden cove and seal spotting in sheltered Portnahaven.  Leave Portnahaven and walk the coastal roads to Port Wemyss passing info boards about the Rhinns Lighthouse on the island of Orsay just offshore before coming inland again, looping back to Portnahaven and walking inland on single-track road.  Walk towards the coast again with a new perspective on the lighthouse and descend to pass a hidden cove and raised beaches before looping back to Portnahaven and watching the sheltered harbour for seals hauled out on the rocks to rest.   

Author’s recommendation

The hidden cove of Currie Sands is a wonderful beach to spend some time listening to the gentle break of the waves on the sand (on a quiet sunny day) and get a new perspective on the Rhinns Lighthouse. 

outdooractive.com User
Author
Catherine Allan 
Updated: September 17, 2018

Difficulty
easy
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
46 m
Lowest point
2 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Safety information

The route is largely on quiet single-track roads so please take care of traffic and step aside to let it pass.  Take care on the coastal path at Port Wemyss, and use the handrail on the pier as it could be slippery underfoot. 

Equipment

This is short loop walk but as ever we always recommend taking waterproofs and spare warm layers as the weather on the island can change in an instant.  Comfortable walking shoes or trainers will suffice for footwear. 

Tips, hints and links

 

Points of Interest

Bruichladdich Distillery

The Bruichladdich distillery is situated on the west coast of Loch Indaal just north of Port Charlotte.  The distillery produces single malt whicky and The Botanist gin.  Depending on where your interests lie you can choose between basic distillery tours, premium distillery tours and tasting and a gin specific tour.  Please check webpage below for tour times, days and availability, or call the distillery shop on +44 (0)1496 850 190.

https://www.bruichladdich.com/distillery-tours-visits 

Rhinns Lighthouse

The lighthouse is one of 200 dotted around Scotland’s coastline, it is 29 m tall so that the light is visible for 40 km.  It was built by the famous lighthouse building Stevenson family in 1825.  Situated on the Isle of Orsay just off the south west coast of Islay the island’s only other building is the chapel.  The lighthouse was operated by a lighthouse keeper until as late as 1998!

Portnahaven

The village of Portnahaven was one of Islay’s planned villages built for it’s inhabitants around the sheltered inlet, as a fishing port, and provided with crofting land beyond the cottages.  In the inlet you can spot Grey Seals resting out of the water on rocks when the tide is right – these are curious creatures so you will likely be able to watch them watching you for a while if you’re lucky to spot some.  There is a pub called An Tigh Seinnse down by the inlet – a good place to relax in the sun while taking in the wonderfully relaxed pace of island life. 

https://www.islayinfo.com/portnahaven.html

 

Food & Drink

There isn’t a café at Bruichladdich distillery but there are places to pick up snacks in Port Charlotte before you leave.  There is also a small café, shop, and the An Tigh Seinnse pub in Portnahaven but it’s best to bring food and plenty of water with you as these have variable and limited opening times. 

Start

Portnahaven centre (19 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
55.680534, -6.506127
UTM
29U 656800 6173343

Destination

Portnahaven centre

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00 km – Facing the inlet of Portnahaven with your back to the built-in benches in the public toilet building TURN LEFT and descend on Crown Street.

0.04 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON as you descend on Crown Street and follow the road as it leaves Portnahaven with views of Rhinns Lighthouse ahead.

Alternatively, you can take a 400 m detour by bearing right and descending on the left-hand side of the inlet to the end of this street to get a good viewpoint for seal-spotting at the inlet entrance – they like to haul out rocks here when the tide is right. 

0.35 km – TURN LEFT to stay on the road as a track goes off to the right. 

0.50 km – TURN RIGHT following the signpost for Rathas nan Lasgairean (coastal path) and descend towards the small inlet then TURN LEFT onto the 1 m gravel path with the black and white bollard at the entrance.  Follow this path along the coast. 

0.60 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON at the Rhinns Lighthouse info board with great views of the lighthouse to your right. 

0.70 km – At the next info board TURN RIGHT to descend to the pier then TURN LEFT at the next black and white bollard to continue on the coastal path.

0.90 km – After a steep ascent on the shore path continue STRAIGHT ON to join a residential street.  Follow the street as it curves left behind the houses ahead.  [Notice the sheds are tied down with roe because it gets so windy here!]

1.00 km – TURN RIGHT to stay on the road and follow the single-track road out of Port Wemyss village between fields. 

1.60 km – At the T-junction TURN LEFT onto the road and walk into Portnahaven using the pavement on the left-hand side of the road. 

1.90 km – In Portnahaven with the turn off to the public toilets on your left continue STRAIGHT ON to pass the church on your right-hand side.  After passing the church in 100 m TURN RIGHT at the junction (with “OK” painted on the wall) to leave the village on a single-track road between fields ascending slightly. 

3.40 km – After passing the Celtic craft shop on your left at the next junction TURN LEFT and walk towards a loch.  In 800 m the tar will change to gravel underfoot. 

4.70 km – Continue STRAIGHT ON as the gravel becomes tar again then curve left to descend on the road.  There are lovely views of Orsay and Rhinns lighthouse ahead. 

4.90 km – Just after passing a house with a grassy parking area on the right-hand side of the road pass through a small wooden green painted gate and signpost welcoming you to Currie Sands.  TURN RIGHT to go through the gate then TURN LEFT to follow the path down to the cove using the rope on the steep descent if you need to.  After enjoying the beach head back up the path to rejoin the road. 

5.10 km – Leave Currie Sands behind and TURN RIGHT to rejoin the road as it follows the coastline. 

5.60 km – As the road splits ignore the track on your left up to a house and BEAR RIGHT to descend and cross a cattle grid on a broken tar road. 

5.90 km – Cross a low stone bridge then follow the road to TURN LEFT

6.60 km – At the T-junction with the road TURN RIGHT to follow the road back into Portnahaven. 

7.30 km – At the T-junction with the church on your left TURN RIGHT to descend to the shore at Portnahaven. 

7.40 km – Pause to look for seals hauled out on the rocks in the sheltered bay then TURN LEFT at the Porthnahaven bus terminus (the end of the road) and follow the road towards the beach passing the little shop opposite the post box.

7.60 km – After ascending to the junction TURN LEFT towards the public toilets.

7.80 km – Finish where you started the loop walks in the centre of the village.  If the weather doesn't allow for relaxing on one of the many benches in Portnahaven to spot some seals then you can take shelter in café or pub while waiting on either the bus or a taxi back to Port Charlotte depending on your arrangements. 

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

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Difficulty
easy
Distance
7.7 km
Duration
2:30 h
Ascent
87 m
Descent
83 m

Statistics

: h
 km
 m
 m
Highest point
 m
Lowest point
 m
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