The 2 kilometers of fine sand which fringes Machir Bay is one of Islay's most beautiful beaches. Machir Bay is also the name of one of Islay's whiskies, recently released by the Kilchoman Distillery. The bay is a great place to walk, for example following the track towards Kilchiaran Bay to the south, which takes in an Iron Age fort. A climb up to the fort is well worth it for the magnificent view of the bay from the site. Machir Bay is also a perfect place for viewing the legendary sunsets in this part of Scotland. Bathing, however, is not recommended due to the strong currents in the bay.
Kilchiaran Bay is the next bay along, and besides the above-mentioned fort there are a couple of other historical sites. The ruined Kilchiaran Chapel, dating from at least the early 13th century, consists of a rectangle of low walls with the roof gone. The grounds of the chapel include a broken stone font and a number of grave slabs, some with intricate designs carved into them. Also in the area is the Cultoon Stone Circle, believed to have been abandoned before completion, and to have had an astronomical purpose, as two of the stones were aligned to show the position of sunset at the Winter Solstice. Only three of the stones are still standing. There was once an RAF base at Kilchiaran, and during the Cold War a ROTOR radar station was installed there, part of a 1950s government scheme to counter attack by Soviet bombers. Activity at the station was short-lived as it ended service in 1958, but the rather ugly, light brown buildings remain as a reminder of those paranoid times.
Map of the area.
© 2008 Mary and Angus Hogg, via Wikimedia Commons