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Now here is a unique anchorage, once you can understand the sailing directions and get through between the two beacons without touching something. If you do have a wee bump, be reassured that you are not the only one – I am another! The anchorage itself is a delightful pool with terns on the rocky islets, views out to the Mull of Kintyre and Ireland, all much enhanced by the white-painted distillery and the decaying castle. To me it will always be the anchorage of Oli’s boxer shorts which must translate into something nice sounding in Gaelic – the boy dropped the dinghy painter, immediately stripped off to his boxers, plunged in to rescue the dinghy and ended up with the boxers round his ankles which slowed him down a touch!
The Lagavulin distillery began life as an illegal still at least as far back as the 18th century, the present legal distillery was founded in the early 19th century. The product you can buy in every airport booze shop in the world (perhaps not Saudi Arabia). There are formal tours but the men working in the place seem happy enough to give one an ad hoc explanation of the process and a look at the inner works when one goes ashore (ph 01496 302 749).
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The anchorage without any boats
The mostly 16th century, possibly some bits earlier, Dunyvaig castle is rather more impressive from the anchorage than close to. Indeed too close too is discouraged as it crumbles off its promontory, abandoned in the late 17th century. How our ancestors managed to perch their castles on such small rocky outcrops guarding important and strategic bits of the coast is truly amazing. By the way, the shore between the distillery and the castle is full of rubbish so either walk round by the road or go by dinghy.
The Islay Marine Centre opened in 2011, in the bay, very convenient for a chandlery, boatyard, visitor moorings and so on. Apparently pontoons will be arriving soon, so it will all look a bit different. How such an enterprise will prosper in such a relatively remote place remains to be seen, one can but wish it well.