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Home: The Isle of Islay

I very rarely talk about the island I’m originally from, mostly out of fear of having the blog traced by locals and having to admit to owning it… but today was such a beautiful day, and a feeling of appreciation towards my little homeland made me decide to go a walk and get some photos to share with you all.

Looking onto the Loch Indaal Lighthouse in Port Charlotte - whathannahwrote

I was brought up on the Isle of Islay, a small island off the west coast of Scotland in the Inner Hebrides. Known as “the Queen of the Hebrides”, it’s probably best known for producing single malt whiskies. We currently have eight distilleries on the island, with others in the process of being planned and built.

I recall being told in primary school that the island is the seventh-largest island around Great Britain; I’m not 100% sure if that’s accurate or not, but it’s what I tell everyone! I feel like that makes it sound quite big, but it’s actually around 25 miles in length, and there’s about 3,000 to 3,500 people living on it. That’s about all my retained facts haha!

ok rock port charlotte, looking over the loch indaal - whathannahwrote

Speaking of schools, my primary and secondary education experience was a little different compared to others I know. With such a small population, the schools are pretty compact; when I finished Primary 7 (I believe that’s equivalent to Year 6 in England and Wales?), there was only two of us in my year. There was 41 of us in total throughout the school! This meant my class was Primary 4, 5, 6 and 7 which often saw me having to recite the 3x table in my final year to suit what the young’uns in P4 were learning… not great!

Then onto high school, where there was around 200 pupils in total throughout my time there… I’m pretty sure it went up to 220 at one point! Since I’ve moved to Glasgow and told people out there about my time in school, I’ve learned that that’s a really small school roll. Not for me – I was terrified about there being that many people when it came to joining! A big downside to choosing classes to study for qualifications was that there were a number of classes not offered to us due to the lack of teachers trained in that subject; it’s pretty difficult to convince people to move over to such a rural place. Discovering that there was such a thing as “Higher Economics” on the SQA curriculum was a bit of a shock in university!

rocks off port charlotte pier, islay - whathannahwrote

Of course, being such a small place, we don’t have any universities on the island. We do have the Argyll College UHI as an option for those who want to remain on Islay, which is within the high school, but I decided – without sounding too dramatic – that I wanted to see somewhere beyond the island. So, when I finished school at 17, I went off to study at Glasgow Caledonian University. Moving from Islay to Sauchiehall Street was a bit of a culture shock, to say the least! It’s been nearly four years and yet I still get incredibly homesick from time-to-time. I do get to come home at times like now, where the university’s still closed and I can come back and recover before the next semester starts!

Looking towards the Oa and Ballycastle - whathannahwrote

In the photo above, on a clearer day, you’d be able to see Northern Ireland in the horizon. I love telling people that I can see Ballycastle from my living room window! I talked about my travels over there in my Travel Diary post from last year – I got over there on a small boat that took about an hour. Fun fact!

As I mentioned before, Islay is home to eight whisky distilleries. These are Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Kilchoman, Lagavulin and Laphroaig. Yes, I know them alphabetically, don’t ask why I’ve memorised them like this. Bruichladdich also produces The Botanist Gin – totally not biased or anything but it is amazing and you should 100% try it *cough*. Islay itself is actually one of the five Scottish whisky regions, which I think is pretty cool. We also have an annual festival – Feis Ile – which takes place in the last week of May. Visitors from all over travel to immerse themselves in the Islay culture and try our whisky, and it’s genuinely my favourite time of year just because I’m a proud little Ileach.

I think that’s about it! I’ll stop here because I feel like I’m becoming a travel agent trying to sell you all a trip to Islay. Oh, and for the record, I can’t speak Scottish Gaelic, as much as my grandparents try to teach me.

Isle of Islay, January 2018 - whathannahwrote


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24 COMMENTS

  • Corinne and Kirsty

    I have lived in Scotland for a year and a half but I had never heard of the Isle of Islay. So interesting to find out about it. The photos are so pretty! xx corinne

    • whathannahwrote
      AUTHOR

      It’s surprising how many people from Scotland don’t know about it! It’s a small island to be fair, but I find it so mad how people I’m friends with even in Glasgow haven’t heard of it haha! xx

  • Sophie

    Beautiful photographs! It looks like a lovely place

  • Claire S

    Islay is one of the scottish islands I’ve not been too but it looks beautiful <3

    G is for Gingers xx

  • What a beautiful place to live! I’m now inspired to book a trip there! It’s also really interesting to see how different school life was for you.

    Beka. xo

  • Ashley Lennon

    I loved this post so much! The photos at stunning and being from Glasgow it’s reallt interesting to read how different your school experience was!

    Ashley | hiyaitsashley.com

    • whathannahwrote
      AUTHOR

      I 100% couldn’t have coped in a Glasgow school! When I joined Caley everyone told me how big their classes were and I was like “noooo way” hahaha x

  • This looks amazing! I’d love to be able to live in a place so beautiful! I’ll definitely be adding it to my list of places I want to visit!

    Jess xx

  • This is such a cool post!! I’ll be honest and say I’d never heard of Isle Islay but it looks stunning! Very different to my childhood home outside London haha. I’ve visited a lot of places in a Scotland, it’s one of my favourite places to visit so I may need to visit next time I go, especially if they specialise in whiskey and gin! X

  • pinkiebag

    Hi, what a stunning place to grow up, the scenery is amazing. I’m in a carpark in a busy town so my view is concrete and cars.

  • Alice Toby-Brant

    This looks amazing. Can’t believe how few people were in your school! 😂

  • Katie Henry

    This looks so lovely, such interesting hearing about because I grew up in a city and can’t really imagine. Thanks for sharing.

  • directlylaura

    It sounds absolutely lovely! I think I’d love a quiet little place like that to live, also fab that you can see NI from your living room window 🌹 the pictures you took are beautiful xx

  • molliewesthead

    Loved this post, your photos look amazing and your island seems so lovely and picturesque! X

  • Lena Dee

    Lol I come from a pretty small island in the Caribbean and I understand how you felt in the initial paragraph. Lol no one at home knows I have this little blog and a part of me is relieved lol. Your home is very beautiful and I’m glad you did a post on it. 💕

    xx Lena | https://lenadeexo.com

    • whathannahwrote
      AUTHOR

      Ahh a fellow islander! People seem to think it’s like an island in the Caribbean when I tell them where I’m from hahaha! xx

  • The diary of Ellie

    Looks like such a picturesque place!

  • Dani

    The pictures are stunning in this post! Makes me wanna go to there

  • Chloe O'Keeffe

    Ah, such stunning scenery Hannah! What a beautiful place!

  • Aleeha

    Beautiful photos. Wow, that is a small school haha, I think I would quite like having a smaller number of people at my school. It’s easier to get to know everyone and makes it feel like a close community!
    Aleeha xXx
    http://www.halesaaw.co.uk/

  • Katey

    It looks like such a beautiful place to live!

  • Madiha

    It’s so cool that you can see NI from your window!! Your home island sounds like the perfect getaway! Don’t think I could survive in such a small school though!!

    • whathannahwrote
      AUTHOR

      Hahaha, it was very tight-knit to say the least! I don’t think I’d have coped with anywhere bigger!

  • CherishingFLo

    Your island looks beautiful!

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