Isle of Islay: more than whisky

We were on the Isle of Islay to visit the whisky distilleries. I did manage to steer us in the direction of textiles. It is good to be the navigator. “Lets explore down this road.. oh look, there’s a woollen mill here, can we stop darling?”

Islay Woollen Mill.

It’s a working mill using equipment from Victorian times.

There’s a small shop stuffed with scarves, knee rugs, throws and lots of clothing, all made from their tweeds. We visited when no-one else was there and were given a tour of the working part of the mill.

Up several flights of well worn wooden stairs were the bolts of fabrics.

I was tempted, but didn’t buy. Why? Two reasons: I don’t need a lot of woollen coats where I live, and the colours are very well suited for people with different complexions and hair colours than I. Like Scottish red heads.

Now if the tweeds had more hot pink in them, like the sheep, perhaps my suitcase would be heavier!


It was a cold and overcast day, with a bit of rain, but the island is beautiful. Lots of lovely sandy beaches. I wish we had more than one day here, but I’ve been wishing that everywhere we went in Scotland!

Kilnaughton Bay had an old cemetery with ruins of an even older chapel from the 1400s. Fascinating grave stones outside the chapel ruins, several old ones that were still legible: 1684, 1725 and 1733.

 The chapel itself was also packed with gravestones, and much older ones. The most interesting is a recumbent one with the effigy of a knight. He has a sheathed sword and what looks like an angel on his shoulder. Very medieval.


A wee dram was very welcome, especially after a visit to a cemetery.


Looks like a wee dram was required at Lagavullin too.

The tasting room at Lagavullin was particularly lovely.

Now back to sewing: I’ve been surprised how much I’ve worn my Simplicity 2603 merino wool wrap. You can see above how I wore it on Islay: over a light wool jumper (and under a raincoat outside). And it has been worn most other days too. Its light and warm, perhaps the perfect layer for travelling in early spring in Scotland. The waterfall front is silly and long, but wrapped around my waist and tied at the back it is smug and warm.

Whats next? More beautiful scenery through the Highlands (think James Bond and SkyFall).


9 thoughts on “Isle of Islay: more than whisky

  1. Lovely pictures! In my experience a merino wrap is needed every day in Scotland, regardless of season. I should like to visit a tweed mill, maybe I will one day.

  2. Looks like your having a fabulous time, I’m so glad. This post prompted a breakfast discussion with my husband of when *we* should go to Islay. He’s thinking about s beach rugby tournament and I’m thinking more along your style! Rachel ☺

  3. Lovely photos! What a great trip! You are definitely a stronger woman than i am, just from your photo of inside the mill i can see two fabrics that would have followed me home. I guess that’s why i’m “working through my stash” 🙂

  4. Oh man you did show admirable restraint not buying the gorgeous woolen fabrics ….. even if the colours didn’t feel right. I wouldn’t have been able to resist ….

    I love the history and sense of age in places like Scotland and, well, pretty much everywhere except NZ and Aus (if you know what I mean!). One day I’ll go abroad again but until then thank you for the lovely photos.

    1. Yes, that sense of history is totally fabulous. We get in in Aus in places like Kakadu with indigenous rock painting, but not in towns and cities. We are missing the sense that people have lived in permanent dwellings in the same places as us for thousands of years.

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