Route: Portnahaven and Port Wemyss

Area: The Rhinns of Islay

Date of walk: 23rd March 2022

Walkers: Andrew and Gilly

Distance: 1.7 miles

Ascent: 150 feet

Weather: sunny but hazy

The twin coastal villages of Portnahaven and Port Wemyss (pronounced ‘weems’) are unspoilt and very picturesque, being set in an idyllic position overlooking the sea. Both villages were built to house tenants who were cleared from the interior during the 1830’s. They share one church, with separate doors for the people of Portnahaven and Port Wemyss. In earlier times, when the people of both villages regarded each other as rivals it sometimes gave rise to problems, especially with weddings when the Portnahaven people didn’t want to sit in the Port Wemyss side of the church and vice versa

We walked along the road for a short distance. Looking across, there were good views out to sea, including the island of Orsay and Rhinns of Islay Lighthouse, built by Robert Stevenson in 1825. This is one of over 200 that are located around Scotland’s wild coastline. We left the road to turn onto the Fisherman’s Path, or Ràthas nan Lasgairean, a delighful short path which is maintained by the locals. The path starts on the seaside at one side of the village and ends on the other side. It’s possible to spot grey seals, otters and bottlenose dolphins from here

We rejoined the road and walked out of Port Wemyss, turning left to approach Portnahaven, passing by the shared village church along the way. We followed the road around the sheltered harbour, a lovely section of the walk, and along the way we had good sightings of several grey seals on the rocks below the whitewashed cottages. A short climb brought us back up to the parking space and the end of a short but very sweet walk

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