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Walking on Islay

Top walking routes

A pathway through three distilleries, circular routes guided by sea stacks and waterfalls. Beach wandering, historic monuments and coastal rambling. We’ve picked a few of our favourite walks to explore from The Machrie.


1. Three Distilleries Pathway

Location: 10 minute drive/taxi/bus from The Machrie to Port Ellen or Ardbeg.

A winding route from Port Ellen to Ardbeg, with tours at Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin whisky distilleries all pre-bookable ahead of time.
Or, stride there and back for a 9.7km longer route starting and finishing in Port Ellen.

2. Kintra and Soldier’s Rock circular

Location: 10-15 minutes walk from the hotel to Kintra/ 15 minute drive/taxi from The Machrie

A 8km circular trail close to the hotel, with rocky outcrops and inland trails, an easy route that takes a couple of hours to complete. The walk passes Soldier’s Rock at Mull of Oa, at the southern end of Laggan Bay. The walk from the hotel hops over a stream to start from Kintra campsite.

Lighthouse on Islay

3. Port Ellen to Carraig Fhada Lighthouse

Location: 10 minute drive/taxi/bus from The Machrie

A 10km walk around the bay from the town of Port Ellen to the iconic square Carraig Fhada Lighthouse, built in 1832.

Cornish Chough

4. RSPB – The Oa

Location: 15 minute drive from The Machrie

Wild goats, sea cliffs and open moorland. Golden eagles, peregrine falcons and sunbathing seals. The Oa RSPB nature reserve is a working farm explored from the coastal path.

The farm encourages cattle and sheep grazing and maintains blanket bog for breeding birds. Otters can be found in the lochs, sea birds can be spotted from the cliff top, and old farm buildings provide nest sites for bats and barn owls.

Walking on the beach

Tips for walking on Islay

  • Wear sturdy boots for the changing terrain you’re likely to encounter.
  • Check your route before you go, there are plenty of walks to suit all levels of fitness or experience.

Explore the rest of Islay by car, boat or fatbike, find inspiration on our blog.