Day 2 – Lochgoilhead to Bruichladdich
The Calm Before The Storm
The day started quietly, of the two residents in the hotel last night, I’m the only one that hung around long enough for breakfast. You wouldn’t ask a full kitchen mobilisation for 1 guest, so breakfast was from the menu, they couldn’t be negiotiated into brewing up some porridge. A bit like First in that respect, although not quite at the same altitude and I (touch wood) didn’t catch man flu.
It was useful to chat to the propietor though, apparently taking the chain of ferries is more the done thing than driving down the Mull of Kintyre. The clouds came down overnight and have stayed for most of the day, matching most of my memories of Scotland, not cold or nasty, just grey and overcast.
Still, that made for quite a moody drive out along the single track road
through Hell’s Glen. If you could guarantee nothing was coming the other way (far from reality) that road would have made a splendid hill climbing stage, although mostly forested there were plenty of opportunities to fall down the hillside.
Passing the original Loch Fyne oyster bar, the Royal Burg of Inverary would have been interesting to spend more than 10 minutes in. There were a few places to note including a well maintained castle and a historic jail. The church was keen to sell tickets up its bell tower, but I figured I could see the clouds perfectly well from ground level. I paused to get a couple of homemade munchies for lunch from a small deli. I can’t remember its name, but the two women running it were quite chatty. It was a single room split into sales and kitchen with few pretentions and some tasty stuffed mushrooms.
Pausing briefly for fuel in Lochgilphead, it was onto the ferry terminal at Kennacraig. I’m quite glad that I don’t have park ferries, even the middling sized pair that shuttle between Islay and the mainland twice a day and balancing loading the car deck looked very much like Tetris, except you needed to pay attention to mass as well as size and weren’t always sure what the next piece was.
I think I’m definately out of the city now, smiles and waves occur if you happen to glance at drivers going past the other way, although I do wonder at how possible it would be to graph ‘coat temperature’. When hanging around on the dockside, the car reckoned it was about 15 degrees C, with absolutely no wind, I was quite content kicking about in a t-shirt, as were the shore crew for CalMac. The tourists, on the other hand, were decked out in scarves, jumpers and coats. And that was just to go from the car queues to the coffee machine.
I quite liked the anonymous looking, slightly crennelated tanker driving off the ferry. The only clue to its content, apart from the Island of Origin, was a small sign demarking ‘Alcoholic Beverage’. Ha!
The crossing was pleasingly smooth, which was handy because I get seasick on a boating lake. I did have to smile at the Captain’s caution that “vessels at sea are subject to movement”. O’rly?
The phone’s internal GPS actually worked for once, and worked well, even when stuck inside the car on its perch. The crossing was at a pretty steady 25.2 km/h although it did vary 10% so controlling a ferry isn’t quite as exact a science as a train. Or it could be that trains aren’t affected quite so much by variation currents. That’s fluid dynamics, not amperes.
Sailing up the sound betweeen Islay and Jura was pretty special, you got to see both islands. My first impressions were that it was like being on the Yorkshire Moors, but at sea level and with more undersea cables supplying power to Jura from Islay. The paps of Jura look like they’d be fun to walk up some day. Most of the landscape was given over to moorland, with the occasional stand of mixed woods and a single grassed field with what looked like sheep on it. Dwellings were few and far between.
Driving around Islay is about 20-30 mph at a maximum. The majority of the roads were twisty and turny, but there were a couple of newer stretches down by the beach that you could have landed a light plane on.
Arriving at Bruichladdich was fun, the yard was very busy with tourists and it took me 3 goes before I could get in the gates. The shop was well stocked and if I’d have had more than zero mobile reception, I could have phoned the office and waved to the webcam.
I arrived at the same time as a Swiss couple who announced themselves as being on the Academy, so I piped up when Mary (who was doing a splendid job of running the shop, sheparding a Tasting and generally keeping things in order) called Ella down, who showed us up to the distillery’s guest house.
The apprehension has started to creep in a bit, I was expecting a bit of hard graft, but apparently breakfast’s always at 8, even if you’ve been at work since 6 and have to come back for it. Still, I left enough time to write up my voice notes from the day before shuffling through the paperwork. There’s going to be a lot to learn and memorise and they seem pretty keen for us to have a dram or two, which seems at odds with not working whilst at work. presumably it’s a work before play thing.
Mobile phone reception is practically nil, tho Orange is better than Vodafone, so for those who are following my trip here, don’t be surprised if you can’t get hold of me directly.
Oh. I’m at Bruichladdich. Really. And the sun’s just come out.
Definately going to be getting our money’s worth here, by a fluke of timetabling I’ve avoided the 0550 start in the still house tomorrow morning, unlike 2 of the 4 Swiss blokes who are joining me and another David (this one from Huddersfield) on this weeks’ Academy. I’ve got a much more civilised 0830 start in the warehouse, lugging barrels about the place.