The Thief’s Cross, Kildalton, Isle of Islay, Scotland

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We had a little rest from visiting distilleries on Islay, well I did, husband would have kept going, but I wanted to visit Kildalton, which is not that far from the distilleries we were visiting on the south coast of Islay, in May 2016.  I had read about the wonderful Great Cross of Kildalton and the old parish church full of the most marvellous tomb slabs, and how I actually visited three distilleries before I got there, is a wonder all of is own.  When we arrived, after driving on one of the most beautiful roads on the island, I was out of the car like a shot.  As I turned to look at the view, I saw a cross on its own, a little further up the hill, with a rusty old fence around it.  As we were the only ones on the site, I thought I had better take photos of the main site before any coaches turned up, which unfortunately they tend to do.  I was right, just as I finished, two coaches arrived and out tumbled vast amounts of sightseers.  I then walked up the hill and studied the cross, much smaller than the main cross, but still carved, not as old as the main one, but still, maybe 15th century, although there was nothing to inform me.  I took some photos and then we were back on the distillery hunt.

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I have now found out, that this late medieval cross has two names, ‘The Kildalton Small Cross’ and ‘The Thief’s Cross’  The reason for the second name, as the cross is outside of the churchyard on non-consecrated ground, a story has evolved that it’s the grave of a criminal.  More likely it was erected by a wealthy Lord as a private shrine in about the 1300 to 1400’s.  It might not be anywhere near the age of the Great Cross, but there was just thing about it, almost as if it was standing, guarding the larger cross.

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Laphroaig Distillery, Isle of Islay, Scotland

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Laphroaig Distillery is very close to Lagavulin on the south coast of Islay, which we visited in May 2016, and which I posted about yesterday.  Laphroaig – pronounced La-froyg – and named after Loch Laphroaig, is one of the most divisive Scotch whiskies, loved by those who enjoy its medicinal, smoky flavour and looked on in amazement by those who don’t.  Husband likes it, it’s just a bit too smoky for me, but then I am not a true Whisky drinker……. I’m a trainee 🙂   We haven’t got that many distilleries to go now……husband is please with the progress.  I just hope we don’t visit too many next week when we are in Scotland.

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Lagavulin Distillery, Isle of Islay, Scotland

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Lagavulin is my favourite distillery on the Isle of Islay, off the west coast of Scotland, as there is a castle located behind it.  We were doing our Whisky Distillery whirl wind tour, in May 2016, to see if we could visit all eight distilleries on Islay and the one on Jura.  We went to the Whisky Festival on Jura, but the rest were just quick trips, to see if we could, we did all but one, Bunnahabhain, which was having it’s own festival and you couldn’t get near it.  It was a lovely surprise for me that there was a castle, not that I had time to explore it, but it will wait until May and then hopefully I can take some photos.  But I also liked the interior, well the part you can take photos, it still retains an old world feel, there’s a lovely sitting room that you can sit and taste their whisky.   

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Situated in a small bay near the south coast of Islay near the ruins of Dunyveg Castle, Lagavulin Distillery is thought to be one of the longest established distilleries in the country. Distilling on the site took place as early as 1742 and by the late 18th century there were up to 10 illicit still operating in the area. In 1882 the remaining two amalgamated to form Lagavulin.

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Bruichladdich Distillery, Isle of Islay, Scotland

 

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Bruichladdich Distillery, on the Isle of Islay, in May 2016, the weather was getting progressively darker and a chilliness in the air, so a wee tasting of this whisky was something to look forward to.  In all these distilleries, you can’t take photos of where they make the whisky, all hush, hush stuff……I know its terrible, but they do look all the same to me.  But least I was starting to taste the difference in the whisky, peaty ones and not peaty….well just.

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Built in 1881 by the Harvey brothers, Bruichladdich Distillery sits opposite the western shore of Loch Indaal on Islay. The distillery produces three distinct single malts: Bruichladdich (unpeated), Port Charlotte (heavily peated) and Octomore (super heavily peated), along with The Botanist Gin.

Kilchoman Church Ruins, Isle of Islay, Scotland

 

 

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Kilchoman Church, on the Isle of Islay, is not a pretty ruin, compared to some of the medieval ones that I have posted about.  But it sort of compels you, to stop and have a look.  We had just left Kilcoman Distillery in May 2016, and were a little short of time, so I was allow a quick photo shot….unfortunately I knew nothing about the church, and had only noticed its outline on the hill as we were passing.  Its not so much the church that you would come to see, but the two Kilchoman Crosses and I missed them, also a very nice grave slab.  In one of the photos you can just see one of the crosses peeking out from the back of the church.  But not all is lost, as we are going back to Islay in May, so hopefully now I know they are there, I can take some photos.  

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The church was built in 1817, when the population of the island was much larger than today.  The ruins replaced a medieval church, thought to have been built in the 1300’s and which served a large parish.  This medieval church was deemed to be unsafe in 1824 and was replaced with the present one you see today.  Unfornunely the population has dwindled and many people who live on the island, now live in main settlements rather than rural areas.

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If you look to the right of the photo, at the back corner of the church, you will see one of the crosses that I missed……. carved in a style known as the “Iona School” at some time in the 1300s or 1400s….. and I missed it, I still can’t believe I did.

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There is nothing left of the medieval church, but the graveyard has plenty of evidences of its existence, which I will explore when I return, hopefully.  But it was now time to be off to the next distillery, I couldn’t complain too much, as it was really husbands trip to see all the distilleries, so I was quite lucky he stopped for all of the times that asked him to……and that was lots 🙂

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Kilchoman Whisky Distillery, Isle of Islay, Scotland

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Oh dear….my husband asked me tonight, if I had kept up a record of the ‘Whisky Distilleries’ that we have visited on my blog, which I had told him I would do.  Well nearly, was my answer, very nearly.  So it looks like it will be a mad dash to get them on, I know where this has come from.  We are going up to Inverness this time next week for four days, and he wants to visit some more distilleries, he just wanted to get in the mood and remiss on the ones we have visited.  So to start the ball rolling, again, we visited Islay, an island off the west coast of Scotland, last year 2016, which I think has eight distilleries.  Kilchoman Distillery produces single malt whisky on the western side of Islay, near the small settlement of Kilchoman, hence the name.  Established in 2005, it’s a farm distillery and the first to be built on Islay for 124 years.  There is a very nice cafe and a well stock shop, which kept me happy, while husband enjoyed looking and tasting the whisky.  I have also added a few photos for you to see the wonderful location.

May 201

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Jura Parish Church, Isle of Jura, Scotland

 

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Last year we visited the Islands of Jura and Islay, off the west coast of Scotland, mainly for the Whisky Festivals.  We stayed on Jura for their Whisky Festival, which was brilliant, even thought the weather was pretty cold, wet and miserable, the whiskey was great.  But this post is about the small church, Jura Parish Church which stands on the inland side of the main road up the eastern coast of Jura at the northern end of the island’s only village, Craighouse. 

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A very simple plain church, but has a very calming interior.  Built in 1777 at a cost of £115, this new church, replaced the old parish church which was sited more inland from the coast and less convenient for the villagers of Craighouse.

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I found this old photo of the church and it shows how the church has changed over time.  The original church had no seats and no belfry, and according to one report was already in a state of disrepair by the early 1800s. The building was extensively renovated and enlarged in 1842.  The current interior of the church dates back to another refurbishment that took place in 1922.  

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The stained glass window in the north east wall was dedicated in 1946 in thanks for the safe return of all but one of the Jura men who went to war. 

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The church has wonderful views, overlooking the Small Islands out in the bay.

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May 2016