Wednesday, 6 February 2013


Nestling in a perfect little circular bay with the Sound of Jura beyond is the ferry port of Port Ellen, linked to the mainland by a ferry to Kennacraig. Like Port Charlotte, the village was founded by the Laird of Islay Walter Frederick Campbell, and whereas Port Charlotte was named after his mother, Port Ellen was named after his first wife Eleanor. Port Ellen used to have its own distillery, but this has now closed, although there is a large maltings here which produces malted barley for distilleries throughout Islay and Jura. However, whisky connoisseurs need not despair, since just up the coast from here they can sample one of Scotland's most famous labels, Laphroaig, while there are two more distilleries a bit further still at Lagavulin and Ardbeg, making this a veritable "whisky coast". Towards the south end of the village is St Johns Church, built in the 1800s, with a simple white-walled interior and a venerable stone exterior. Near the Lagavulin Distillery is the ruined Dunyvaig Castle, a former stronghold of the MacDonald Lords Of The Isles, where several sieges took place during the 17th century before the Campbells came along and finished the castle off by demolishing most of it. Another point of interest lies beyond the Ardbeg Distillery: the Kidalton Cross, a fine example of an early Christian "high cross". The adjoining church and churchyard is a treasure trove of grave slabs, some bearing the images of knights.

Map of the area.

© 2004 J M Briscoe, via Wikimedia Commons

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