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